Practice, Practice, Practice

That old joke, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?…”

It’s showtime, folks.

Here I am, back home again. Not that I can’t blog from the hospital, I just didn’t want to. Husband has yet another brand new part, Art Child has a brand new diagnosis of walking pneumonia, and me? Well, I’ve got the same old pile of dirty laundry staring at me. Much like the file that holds the current manuscript I’m sort of kind of querying, I’m ignoring it. Every morning I get up, make my coffee, exchange emails with my writing buddy, squint at the newspaper while I try to pretend I’m not living through the death of American democracy, do my stretches, open the file intending to make notes for a synopsis (some agents require these when you’re querying), read a couple of paragraphs, weep, and close the file again.

Life has been pretty damned weird these days, and I feel like I’m…on the cusp of a new stage, or grieving, maybe both. I think those two things go together. Grief, not just for dinner dying anymore.

No, no, don’t get nervous, I’m not going to go on about health, hospitals, or death. We grieve a lot of things at different stages: loss of friendship, loss of marriage, job loss, major financial difficulties, leaving school, starting school, menopause (so I’ve heard–personally, I celebrated), children growing up, viagra prescriptions, a healthy planet, elected officials who understood the term public service, and dreams. Oh, those traitorous, treacherous fucking dreams. Mine, as anyone who’s been with Mrs Fringe for any length of time knows, is tied to my writing. A contract. Someone in the industry who believes in my words, my fiction, enough to think they and I could earn a dollar from them.

That clip above? From All That Jazz, my favorite movie, I honestly don’t think I can tell you how many times I’ve seen it. Gah! I was an adolescent during one of the golden ages of movie musicals. All That Jazz, Saturday Night Fever (I know, technically not a musical, but it was the soundtrack of my youth), Hair, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Grease, Fame, Yentl, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, The Rose, Shock Treatment, Fame (yes, I wrote it twice), The Blues Brothers–there were a lot of them. They were all great fun and great tears with a message. If you had talent, determination, someone who believed in you, willingness to put the work in and put up with various setbacks and humiliations, booze and/or mind altering substances but didn’t OD by the time you were 30, well. You would make it. That or you’d be beaten by life and give up those stupid dreams for a house in the suburbs. Or financial security. Or you’d just be too busy with financial insecurity to care anymore. See above, “I acceeeeeept!” Whichever way the chips fell, there was definitely no soundtrack telling me I’d take a twenty year break from trying, wake up one day to hear the alarm ringing from Pink Floyd’s Time in my head and start writing again, and write and revise and write and revise and connect with other writers and learn about the publishing industry and get derailed again and then write and revise and submit, and write and revise and submit, over and over again until I was 50,000 years old, still care, and what’s playing in my head is no longer the alarm clock, but Clare Torry’s brilliant, wordless vocals. Yeah, I’d like to see that movie. It’s possible this manuscript is a version of it.

I want to accept. I say I accept. I think I’ve accepted. And then I don’t. Because even as I grieve the loss of my writing dream, the writing is how I get through, how I live, how I grieve.

The closing scene of All That Jazz is below. Kind of long but you should watch it, about the death of a dream realized, and also Ben Vereen is a god.

3 comments

  1. Oh Mrs Fringe, I can relate to your post on so many levels. I started writing again after a great loss. Writing lifted me from a dark downward spiral. For that reason if no other, I’m grateful to it. But as the years have passed, I’ve come to view my writing less as a saving grace and more as a testament to who I am and what I’m capable of.

    Like you, I long to see that validation reflected back to me. I had and lost a literary agent. Since then, it sometimes feels as if my well of inspiration has run dry, I’ve grieved for what may never be, allowed myself to consider the idea that my work will never be published–

    And yet, an ember of hope remains. How, I don’t know, especially since Life has pushed its way to the forefront. There are new realities to deal with and they won’t have a happy ending.

    But my writing will still be here–words I put on paper when I needed to most. Stories I was compelled to tell. . .and a little ember of hope is tethered to those words. Like you, I’m not ready to break that tenuous bond. That tenuous sliver of hope just might carry us through, Mrs. Fringe.

    And maybe, one day. . .

    Like

  2. That’s lovely, Karen, “…less a saving grace and more a testament to who I am and what I’m capable of.”
    It’s true, published or not, the writing is always there; comfort, torment, and ember. ❤

    Like

  3. But not an albatross, thank god. Sometimes it’s more like a life preserver so yeah, we’re lucky we have it. For better or worse, it’s a part of who we are/who we hope to be.We write and query and write and query for the same reason people buy lottery tickets or say their prayers or wish upon the stars . . . hope for better things.

    Thank you for posting, mrs. fringe. I surely have missed your words.

    Like

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