Sunday, July 20, 2008

Where Did the Time Go?

I am still finishing up making the crochet projects to go with DEATH AND DOILIES. I noticed that without the focus of working on a the manuscript my time seemed to be disappearing. In a few blinks of the eye my whole morning is gone. When I started to pay attention, I found the leak.

It started innocently enough. I noticed that Love with the Proper Stranger was on TCM the other night. Natalie Wood is in it, along with Steve McQueen. I think it was his only romantic lead. I have seen the movie enough times to practically know the dialogue, but hadn’t watched it for a long time, so I set the TV to record it.

As I was watching it, it occurred to me that Steve McQueen and Natalie Wood were both dead and then I wondered how old Steve McQueen was in the movie. Now, in the old days, I would have probably just made some kind of guess and forgotten about it. Instead, I headed for my computer and I typed in Steve McQueen and within moments had ascertained that he was 33 in the movie. I noticed there was a Chad McQueen listed as well. Was it an offspring?

A few more clicks and I knew he was Steve McQueen’s son from his first marriage and that there was another child named Terry who died. Male or female and what happened? A few more search words typed in and followed, and I now knew that Terry was a woman and she died of respiratory failure at age 38. While I was thinking how sad that was, I began to wonder about Steve McQueen’s death.

Not hard to find out. He died at 50 from the kind of cancer you get from being exposed to asbestos. One website said no one knew how he had contact with asbestos, but another website offered the fact that the suits he wore when racing cars had asbestos and he had dipped cloths in liquid asbestos and put them in his mouth. It gave me the heby jebies to read that last part. Did he know what he was doing? Didn’t he care? Did he think he was invincible? Did he think that the fact the asbestos was liquid, it wouldn’t get in his lungs? Did they even realize the danger of asbestos then?

I clicked around some more and the next thing I knew I was reading bios about his first wife, and then watching a recent interview with his last wife on David Letterman has she promoted a book of photos she’d taken of him. The interview was in 2005 and he died in 1980. Interesting that there would still be a desire for books of photos of him.

Hidden in all the information about his love of motorcycles and action – he was clearly an adrenalin junky – there was something that surprised me. It only came out after his death, but he had done a lot for children in need. He had a rough childhood abandoned by both of his parents and ended up in something called the Boys’ Republic – no, I didn’t start doing a search on that. But I found out when Steve was rich and famous, he went back there every year at the holidays with presents and understanding. He wanted those forgotten boys to see he had survived all the hard knocks and managed to succeed in an effort to give them hope.

I clicked around some more websites and found more stuff. There seemed to be some disagreement about whether he said “Racing is life... Everything before and after is waiting,” or his character in Le Mans said it. I also found out the movie that started my whole search Love with the Proper Stranger was considered one of his lesser movies. Who knew? But one thing I did know by then – the secret of my melting time. Hours had gone by as I wandered around the Internet and for what? I’m not really looking to become a Steve McQueen expert.

I am going a diet – not food, but time wasting. Next time I watch an old movie on TV I’m just going to ignore my curiosity.


Terri Thayer said...

Great post! Now all you have to do is create an asbestos-eating character with two kids (one who died tragically too young) who grew up in a boys home (you must learn more about Boys Republic)in your next book. That way you can call it research.

Good thing you didn't look up Natalie Wood. Your character would have to fall overboard after arguing with her husband and the guy who may be her lover and die completely alone.

Oh, I said that like it was a bad thing.

Camille Minichino said...

Betty, I IMDB even movies I don't like!

But I'm with Terri -- call everything like that research because something will end up in your books, consciously or not.

The trick is to do that and also make our deadlines!

Betty Hechtman said...

Thanks, Terri and Camille. I hadn't thought of it that way. Yes, it's all reseach.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Loved your post, Betty, especially since I'm always wondering where time goes while I'm under deadline --and then realize I've been on the Internet researching interesting stuff, usually relating to my writing, and I keep going with it!
And now, after the meeting of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Romance Writers of America that you and I just attended on blogging, I have all sorts of new stuff on-line to look at that will help me blog even better at KillerHobbies...

Betty Hechtman said...

I had the same thought, Linda. As I was listening to the panel talk about all the different blog spots they go to and all the comments they post to all of them, my head began to spin and I started to wonder how they had any time left to write their own blogs, let alone anything else.