Do NOT make me play Bach.
Bach and I don’t get along the way Beethoven and I, Mozart and I, Schubert and I, Schumann and I, Kabalevsky and I, even Khachaturian and I get along. I can play “Linus and Lucy,” the Vince Guaraldi theme heard in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and the other “Peanuts” cartoons, but don’t make me try to struggle through a J. S. Bach Invention or Sinfonia. Aside from a few of the early preludes in the WTC (Well-=Tempered Clavier) and of course some of the Notebook for Anna Magdalena, I struggle too much. It’s just too hard.
I was smokin’ wild tonight. Played through the better part of my higher-end repertoire, finishing up with the two Schubert Moments Musical. (Nos. 3 and 1. #3 is the happy bouncy one that everyone loves.) It was sad that there was no one there to hear. Except the dog, of course. He always appreciates my concertizing.
Still couldn’t play Bach. Had a few glitches even playing the easiest Prelude, #1 in C. Why? ? ? ‘Tis a puzzlement.
Also, I’ve got “clicks” on C2 (the C above middle C) and the D and E above it. Time to call the piano technician. It sounds terrible and ruins the tone and resonance of those notes. Just about everything you play needs ’em, too, unless you want to play in G-flat and stay mostly on the black keys.
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So . . . this afternoon, we caught the film “Overboard” starrting Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell . . . for the hundredth time. I watched it again, gleefully reciting the dialogue (pretty much). “Don’t call me Jojo, Mother. I feel like a Pomeranian.”
If you want to see a perfectly structured film, IMHO, see this one. The structure is just about perfect.
Ditto for the *first* “Back to the Future” flick. Perfect setup, perfect plot points, perfect timing, perfect wrap-up. At first I thought they’d forgotten the dog in the van, but then I saw it the last time I watched the movie, so they even got that detail right. Bravo.
Lots of movies that rake in the bucks don’t have that no-plot-holes, character-driven, no-false-motivation structure.
You can learn (from watching these) a lot about writing novels in three-act format, which is pretty much how salable commercial novels are structured these days.
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This afternoon I met one of my writing friends at Borders. We’d been meeting as the D/FW NaNo (National November Writing Month) group that’s been together since last year, but today only she and I showed up. She is still early in the game, at the stage where she still says “WHEN I sell” and “WHEN I start selling on proposal” and all that stuff I used to say when I still believed.
I’m afraid I wasn’t particularly grand to listen to for part of the time (although I did play plot hamster and invent a couple of outlandish plot twists for her. I don’t think she’s going to use them, though.*) My Tarot readings and horoscope and anywhere I turn . . . they’ve all been saying, for a while now, “wake up and get out of your fantasy and enter reality before it’s too late.” I can’t help but think that if I haven’t cracked any markets after all this time, I am not meant to. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with any particular aspect of the craft in my work (as far as I can tell from what agents, editors, book doctors, and my professors at SMU/UTD say when they see it)–it’s just my ideas and the way I write that doesn’t seem to appeal to agents.
So I’ve stopped talking like that. “WHEN I win this contest” and “WHEN I get an agent,” while fine for those who still think that you can visualize a life into being, just make me sound like a ridiculous fool. So I’ve stopped saying them.
Pretty soon I’ll surely accept that it’s never going to happen. And why shouldn’t I be happy without it? I survived the life-threatening illnesses, we’re finally on our feet financially, we’re all getting along well, the dog is almost housebroken, and I can afford to replace this carpeting (and could, if only I’d concentrate on packing up the three floor-to-ceiling bookcases and somehow figure out how to take apart the TV-TiVo-stereo-VCR-etc stack and put it back together again so it works. I fear it never would go together correctly again.)
It’s tough for someone who has been a True Believer to face reality. But sometimes it may be what’s in the cards. The grand destiny doesn’t come to pass because of some past error or just the twists of fate. But if you’re not dead yet, then you can still enjoy life and be happy.
At least I hope I can “get there” and believe that, at last.
* (Okay, so the plot about the kid who finds the magic banana might not fly. But when I was at the half-price bookstore, I picked up a book called “Toby’s Banana” or something similar, a chick lit tome of about 300 pages on sale for a dollar–so that tells you how popular it was, that it got turned in a lot–and the only plot I could imagine for it is that a guy buys a banana and funny stuff starts happening and then soon he figures out IT’S THE BANANA (first plot point), and he figures out how to use the magic, but then THE BANANA STARTS TO TURN BROWN AND GO BAD and he can’t control the magic (second plot point), and he can’t figure out how to destroy it because anything he does just releases more rotten magic (dark moment or turning point) . . . Um, that’s not anything like the plot of that book. It’s just another sex novel about youngsters and their friends searching for sex and pretty shoes, unfortunately. So she didn’t like that plot. And then she wanted a conflict and I offered “a NeoConservative guy buys the building where the local Organic Food Co-Op is and wants to raze it for a parking lot for his church, and the hippies fight back,” and she wouldn’t use that either. My plot hamster fell off the wheel. Perhaps my style/voice is not the ONLY reason for all these rejections, eh?)
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Yet there are still life’s little ironies, aren’t there?
Go check out the 2004 Summer Reading List, Grades 6-8, as compiled by the Newton Middle School Librarians. Click on “Fantasy” and see – – my book is the FIRST listed. I discovered this by googling up* my name. This is not the webpage of anyone I know. I didn’t talk to any of these people. My book was just discovered. And they LIKED it. If only it had a fair shake by being put out by Viking, Warner, or some other NY house, I know it could make money for them. I wouldn’t care if they paid me a cent in royalties, if I just saw my book being put on library shelves and bookstore dumps (displays) and spied people carrying it around to read on the bus. *sigh* Anyway, that’s nice. I guess it would make me feel happy if I weren’t in this “wake up to reality” mode.
* Sounds horrid. Googling up? Clean that up before it leaves a stain! Barney Google, with his goo-goo-googly eyes!
Anyhow. Perhaps, like playing the Bach Inventions, publication by a New York house will remain just tantalizingly out of my reach . . . (pray that it won’t, but anyway, I have to face that possibility.)
To end on a lighter note–check out The Lost Books Club, a group aiming to get some forgotten but worthy books back into print and in readers’ hands. I applaud them. The same is being done on a larger scale by A Common Reader. Good show.