I’d been having such a blast writing my INTERVIEWS WITH THE DEAD that I had begun considering using this space almost exclusively to develop and extend the form. Problem is, if I go by the number of readers who view Mondays’ posts, too many interviews too often, get boring. And the idea of boring is a writer’s worst nightmare. So I couldn’t put an interview on the docket for this week’s column.

Then what? This question usually pops up about twenty minutes after I’ve published my last post. I’m used to it and push the anxiety aside. I need the mind space to work on the fourth Matt Jacob book, TIES THAT BLIND. Also, if Mondays are publishing days, Tuesdays are music days. It takes me a fair amount of time to practice the sax, and prepare for my lesson and ensemble hours at MusicMakerStudios. That “performance” comes fully equipped with its own anxiety; what I lack in talent I try to make up for with work—which often isn’t terribly successful.

But Tuesdays are always fun days and nights, which is very much the calm before the storm. Wednesday morning, my Monday worries are in full bloom. This past week I struggled to engage, to find myself interested enough in a topic to write about. I thought about reviewing Hugo Chavez’s legacy, but everywhere I looked interesting articles about him–pro or con–were everywhere. I couldn’t imagine writing anything that could conceivably change anyone’s mind, so why bother? Felt like I’d be talking to myself.

I return to the newspaper and go through three days of ink but nothing jumps so I reconsider another interview. Desperation move, I think. Like I said, too much repetition makes for a drag. I tell myself I have plenty of time and that worrying won’t help my subconscious churn something out. After all, if an idea doesn’t come from current events, the arts, or other externals, it’s got to rise up from the deep. I’ve always believed that consciousness is the last stop for information, not the first—let’s hope it’s true this week.

Another two days pass and it’s Friday. The Northeast gets whacked with yet another snowstorm, while I pour over my copy of Baseball Prospectus, hungry for the season to begin. Ahh, an idea, perhaps? PLAY BALL!! A review of my Arizona trips to Spring Training? An analysis of the Red Sox? Uhh, I think not. Can’t imagine anyone interested in baseball after shoveling their cars out from another foot of snow. Even if the post is three days away. Around here, three days just means you’re no longer allowed to save your parking space with chairs or trash barrels.

Not a good idea to eliminate all my northeast readership. I just can’t count on Wyoming to flesh out the numbers.

Late Friday afternoon and head-banging time. The walls are moving closer and closer together and I’m scrambling to find a way out. I got to find a way to chill.

Break out the bourbon.

I’d like to say that one swallow opened the door but it didn’t. Two swallows though, cleared my mind enough to begin thinking. I considered a piece on Benedict’s abdication and the upcoming conclave. But we all know why Benedict really resigned and can only suspect which definition of damage control and conserving Empire the conclave will send up along with their white smoke.

It’s Saturday morning and too early for more alcohol.

Okay, Klein, you’ve been doing this for a couple of years now. You’re either all dried up or you ain’t thinking. I prefer the latter so I’m gonna either stare at a blank computer screen or beat this horse into talking. (Before animal advocates get too angry, the horse I’m talking about is me.)

The horse finally talked. “Write about the struggle you’re having this week with the column, but make it interesting!”

Damn horse sounded like Captain Pickard: “Make it so!” But in truth, the idea caught my fancy. Why shouldn’t you share my tsouris? Or, more writerly put, why not share my weekly process? This was an idea I could get behind. Just recount the truth. Write about the mishigas I go through every time I sit down to write my post. On top of which, this week was perfect since it was an “I got nothing” five days, a day of writing, then Sunday to turn this into a coherent article.

So here it is, my friends. A look inside my past week of writing—or nonwriting, as it were. I suppose I could finish by reciting various “Win one for the Gipper” homilies, but truth is, I’m left with only one head-scratcher: People want to know why writers drink?

You’re not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on.— Dean Martin


It’s an understatement to say I’m not a fashionista. It’s an overstatement to suggest that I spend any real time picking my clothes. I may know about Dior and Michael Kors and Lagerfeld, but my real designers are Champion and Fruit Of The Loom. My daily wear consists of sweats and sweatshirts unless I have to leave the house–in jeans and a variation of a t-shirt.

So what’s a schlub doing watching Project Runway for ten years? Certainly not for Heidi Klum’s Auf Wiedersehen as she thins the herd of wannabe clothing designers. Tim Gunn’s warmth has started to feel pro forma and his wardrobe choices bizarre. Worse, I really don’t like Nina Garcia, the longest lasting judge.

There’s more to dislike. The fact that producers have input on who stays and who goes, based, I’m sure, more upon the personality of particular contestants than merit. That’s a big one. Also their decisions about who stays and goes based upon that single week’s showing as opposed to a body of work over time—or so they say.

What draws me to Project Runway is my opportunity to watch the creative process. Sure, I can read a great book and marvel at the author’s creativity. Same with movies, plays, art, and good TV (which is not an oxymoron). But those things are done deals, finished products to admire and analyze from the outside. Following the process of creation—complete with its ideas, false starts, aha moments, adjustments, is endlessly fascinating—be it designing clothes, cooking (The Iron Chef), house renovation (Property Brothers), or even the art of the sale (Selling New York, etc) continues to be one of my greatest pleasures. It makes me feel better struggling with my job of channeling it from within.

Another example: Tuesdays I go to Music Maker Studios ( for my sax lesson followed by a session playing in an ensemble. There are times when one or the other of our group really gets it going and improvises the hell out of a song. Just listening makes me incredibly happy. It’s as if a muse is in their head. Which it probably is since my best writing occurs when I’m just scribbling down the movie in my mind.

Somewhat similar, I remember watching a YouTube clip of a policeman in the middle of a crazy busy intersection on his box and using his arm signals and body motions as if conducting a world class orchestra. Perhaps he was. What is certain is everyone who passed him by caught at least a glimpse of “performance art.” Call me crazy, but I find moments like that spiritually uplifting.

The point? Exposing myself to others’ creative processes is nourishment for my own. My Tuesday nights will never turn me into a Stan Getz, but I’ve listened and learned to play better. And more importantly, write better.

Years ago, I wrote a post, “Writing From The Heart,” ( which was an attempt to identify the place my best writing comes from. That column still holds true, but I’ve learned through music, the cop (and Heidi) that immersing myself in other peoples’ creativity enhances and informs my own.

What’s nice about this realization is its compatibility with my political beliefs. We really don’t stand alone as individuals but are interconnected to others. We build upon and are inspired by people who came before or work beside us in ours and other fields. Seems like a simple idea, but in these Randian times even simple gets blowback.

Sadly, all too many in the arts would vociferously defend their work as theirs. And it is, though from where I sit, never only theirs.

So fellow writers and artists, musicians and policemen, and everybody who gives a shit about being creative—you are not alone. It makes sense to remember that. Makes all the solitude a little easier to take.

“Your chances of success are directly proportional to the degree of pleasure you derive from what you do.” Michael Korda