At the desk: Editing and abetting | AspenTimes.com

At the desk: Editing and abetting

Benjamin Welch
The Aspen Times

Rarely am I ever propositioned.

And I don’t just mean being hit on in the Eric’s bathroom line at 1:20 in the morning; I mean for freelance opportunities, too.

So when Paul came looking for a comma wrangler to copy edit a novel he had finished, I knew I had to get off my couch, turn off the double TVs and say, “Ugh, I guess.”

Other than a sex scene I don’t believe is anatomically possible, Paul’s Aspen-based Western was an adventurous read, starring me as I lassoed proper tenses and em dashes across a wide, wide plain.

Since then we have met up semi-frequently to talk shop and have a laugh over a beer. His glass sits barely touched as he’s very busy telling me about his screenplay, which is allegedly being shopped around Hollywood. In this time I’ve had, like, four additional drinks — my turn to buy.

“There’s no such thing as chance. Everything you’ve ever done up to this point is for a specific reason,” he says to me in his Australian accent, still discernible after decades in America.

“You either have to believe in chance or God,” I reply, in my Midwestern accent. When talking to grown-ups I try harder to sound intelligent.

As my late-20s existential crisis rages on I find myself making more Jesus jokes to cope with the guilt of a religious upbringing. Our Father enacts vengeance upon me by causing my favorite sports teams to lose in crunch time of the playoffs or having their best athletes injured early in the season and essentially nullifying the entire year as far as my avid fandom goes.

“God would never let me be successful, he’d kill me first. He’ll never let me be happy!” is my favorite George Costanza quote. I yell it as I slump over during another “NBA2K19” loss wherein my guys commit seven straight inexplicable turnovers in the fourth quarter. Am I drunk or are the players moving in a sporadic fashion thanks to another broken controller? (Both.)

If I had put as much time into actual basketball as the “2K” franchise, I could maybe try out for the Aspen High team. After all, I still have four years of eligibility.

I doubt they give dream trips to adults, but my Make A Wish request would be to suit up for a girls junior varsity game. No disrespect to the ladies, of course, but as a full-grown short man I would like to score 30 points one last time in a competitive environment, and also I can palm the ball. Oh, and let’s use a Little Tykes hoop. Not sure what MAW’s ethics code is, but hey, I’m the one who’s hypothetically sick here, and it’s not like I’m asking to meet Neil Diamond.

Anyway, Paul says he has the blueprint for a Netflix Original, and graciously wants me along for the ride. He asks me to consider writing a treatment and breaking into the movie-making game.

“You are a very talented writer and I think you have the chops for this,” he says. “Your paragraphs were very snappy and clever.”

“Geez, thanks. How much of my stuff have you seen?”

“Oh, the one page.”

This is the real-life equivalent of when your friend compliments you with, “I loved your article. Didn’t read all of it, though.” If you want to show your support without actually having to do anything, just press the like button or retweet. After that we’ll never speak of it again.

As we part we discuss the benefits of a working partnership, and I casually allude to the Writing Switch column I do with Sean Beckwith (who will think this mention is me flirting with him and not shameless self-promotion) that Paul apparently read once.

“That’s great. This will be the time of your lives,” he says.

Either this or when Sean and I are done filming seven Grammy-winning seasons of “Eskimo Brothers: SnowBORED in Aspen.” Until then, read us in the Aspen Times Weekly — or don’t; I still get paid the same, so whatever.

Paul Harris is the author of “Independence Pass,” offered at Explore Booksellers and the Pitkin County Library, and “The Silver Queen,” out soon. Benjamin Welch is the author of his own destiny, available at (SPONSOR HERE). bwelch@aspentimes.com


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