Easier said that done. The novel continued to languish. I felt blocked from getting into regular short-story production while I had this novel hanging over my head. Then I was suddenly and unexpectedly offered a job as fiction editor of Omni magazine. Ben Bova, whom I didn't even know at that time, had made me the offer. The salary was good, and I would only have to work in the Omni offices three days a week. This would give me a chance to make a living and finish my novel, and continue the slow-moving divorce proceedings between Abby and me. She had returned also, and was living in Woodstock, New York. I took the job and moved into a new apartment building on Greenwich Avenue. I was getting my life back in order.
I worked for Omni for two years. I enjoyed the editorial work very much, and enjoyed even more the writing chores I did for Omni. I liked my new apartment and my new life. I was making friends again. Everything was going well...except that I was not finishing my novel.
I gave it all my spare time. For four days a week and my vacation time I worked on it. And got nowhere. I had never been so stuck in my life.
During my stay at Omni, I devoted all of my free time to the novel. At the end of two years, I asked for a few weeks of unpaid leave. My request was turned down. I quit.
And as soon as my severance pay ran out, I was broke. The apartment had to go. Even more important, I had to go. There was no way I could live in Manhattan on my vanishing resources and finish my novel.
I had met a woman during this time. A writer named Jay Rothbell. She was eager to leave New York, too. We came up with the idea of investing what money I had left in a car and camping equipment, and driving to Florida. There we'd live in the state and national park systems, and I'd complete my book. We bought an old clunker of a car from Abby, my ex-wife, and took off.
A week or so later, we were in Florida, staying at one park or another. I had bought a state-of-the-art tent, and a folding table. I had an Olympia standard with me. We moved around from the Keys to Sebring, and from Miami to the West Coast. We ate mostly powdered camping food, except for the odd hot dog or hamburger. It was a pretty good life. We did this for some months. Finally, at a campsite on Florida Bay, at the tip of Florida, I finished my novel.