The last concert of the symphony season is upon us; the performance is Saturday night.
Wednesday night, I found myself at rehearsal. I had been planning on attending some of it because we have a guest composer here, the amazing Richard Blackford, and I volunteered to shuttle him from the concert hall to his lodgings. I thought I could arrive at 8:00 or so, spend an hour, and then be gone.
The phone rang soon after they left. Would I bring the orchestra bells? Yes, yes. So I spent two hours at rehearsal and never shuttled Richard, as he had to stay to work on a sound issue.
I tell this story not to complain, but to point out that there has been a whole lot of music and music talk and music stuff the last several days. On Wednesday, before rehearsal, Richard, Warren, and I had a light meal at the house before the two of them went off.
The talk was of music and the therapeutic drumming program Warren created and the art of composing. Then poetry was introduced (it was still National Poetry Month, after all) as Richard had collaborated with Maya Angelou on the work "King" (he wrote the music; she wrote the lyrics). That added a layer of poets and poetry and verse to the music discussion.
Warren excused himself after the meal to change and pull together his case for the rehearsal. Richard looked at me and asked "Do you write?"
Shades of the old high school cheer with the emphasis on a different word in the short sentence. Do I write? Do I write? Do I write?
I fumbled my initial response. "Yes, but not professionally. I mean, I blog and I write a monthly column for an online site but I don't make money at it..." Then like the receiver downfield, I recovered the conversational ball and had a surer grip. "...and I used to write a monthly column about local architecture for our newspaper, so yes, I do write." I paused to draw a breath and added "I love to write."
"How about poetry?"
Not really, I admitted. About poetry, yes. But not poetry. Richard nodded.
He acknowledged that he preferred to write prose. "But I'm writing a novel," he confessed, his face lighting up. "I've finished the first draft and am now on the second."
A novel! I jolted upright. A novel! And while he explained where the novel stood, including the novelist friend who'd read and marked up the first draft, my mind raced to my own confession.
I finally opened my mouth and said, "I'm writing a youth novel and am about two-third through my first draft."
We did not talk plots. We talked about leaning a scene down, about moving a scene along after it had stalled out up a blind alley, about the aha! moment when you realize what the character really was up to and why the character did what he or she did.
I said that for me the hardest thing was making time to write. He talked about the shortage of time; I talked about honoring that time.
"Yes, I write." The statement, buried though it was, opened an amazing door.
There is an entry in the journals of Anne Morrow Lindbergh after Harcourt, Brace accepted her first book, North to the Orient, for publication. She received a call from Harcourt himself, who after praising it and tell her the firm accepted it, said "You've written a book, my dear." Anne hangs up the phone and stands looking out the window, "completely happy. They like it—and my happiness was pure and tangible and right there. It's true—I have it, then...[one of those] moments of personal triumph."
I've never submitted a book for publication, let alone ever had one accepted. My manuscript, in first draft stage, is at 21,000+ words and maybe (I think, I hope, I want) about two-thirds complete. But...
"I'm writing a novel."
The glow of those words—just getting out those words—carried me through the rehearsal and on into the night.