Monday, January 17, 2011

My Writer's Manifesto

Photo from

     "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?"  


     I learned to sing relatively "late" in life.  I was 25 and I wanted to audition for a musical at the local community theater, Carrollwood Players in Tampa, FL.  I had never sung before, not even in the chorus during high school.  But I love musicals and I really, really wanted a part in this musical.  Let me repeat that: I wanted to be in this show.  The musical was "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and I love all things Sondheim.  I took voice lessons and I practiced.  And practiced.  And practiced.  I should also mention that I was then a full-time student and working part-time.  I also lived with my Mom.

      My Mother thought I was nuts.  She actually told me that I could not sing and that I was wasting my time.  Thanks, Mom.  I kept going.   The auditions came.  At the auditions, I was surrounded by "real" theater people.  I thought, "What am I doing here?"  My name was called and as I walked to the stage,  I was literally shaking from head-to-toe.  I opened my mouth and I bungled the first line.  Stopped.  Asked to try again and I sang my song.  Not well but at least in tune.  Finished the rest of the audition.  I would get a phone call if I got a part.  I went home.  Two days passed.

     Miraculously, I got a phone call from the director.  I was offered a part in the chorus, Tintinabula.  Yes, yes, yes, I'll do it.  Tell me when and where.   Rehearsals for a musical are life-consuming.  There are lines, songs, and dances to learn.  I used every spare minute either studying for school or practicing for the show.  My Mother watched all of this and was a Deputy Downer.  She never came to the rehearsals.  She said I wasn't even getting paid for this...what was the point?  The point was: I was having a glorious time.  Where else would I be able to perform in a musical??  I was exhausted but it was worth it.

Cast Photo, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to The Forum."  I am third from the left, in the black wig and the purple costume. 

     Opening night.  The show was a hit!  Eleven amazing performances.  We were voted the best show of the season!  I was nominated for "Best Supporting Actress"!!  I didn't win, which was not a surprise, because I didn't have a speaking role.  Today, I still sing and my friends tell me that I have a beautiful voice.  To which I always respond with a heartfelt, "Thank you." 

     This brings me to my writer's manifesto.  Anyone can be a great writer.  Anyone.  I am learning how to write, I mean really write.  To quote Fran MacDonald of the blog, Staying On Story: "If you want, you can be a great writer.  You can write exactly the story or poem or song or article or book that you most want to read.  Listen to [your] passion instead of your imaginary friend... As long as you have the nerve.  Develop your own style, and develop it to the max.  Don’t compromise on this."    

     I have taken Fran's advice to heart.  I work full-time in a demanding job.  I enjoy the work.  But I love writing.  So I come home and I'm exhausted.  And I write.  Every night.  It takes me two hours to write a post.   Slowly, I am getting better.  Slowly, I am learning the craft of writing. 

     I want to write the stories that are living inside of me.  I want my readers to connect to my stories, to feel the gamut of emotions and to walk away satisfied.  That is my goal.  And I am having a glorious time.

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