Thursday, June 23, 2011


PhotobucketI always wanted to be a rock star. Still do.

Never mind the fact that my musical skills are extremely limited. In high school, I got kicked out of chorus for having a bad voice. By the teacher. In front of the class. This did not phase me as much as I thought it would, and since it was too late to drop the course, the teacher gave me an A as long as I showed up and did not sing. He called the time ‘study hall.’ I used it to read historical romance novels.

I took piano for several years as a kid, and as a result, I used to be able to play 99% of the theme from MASH from memory. The missing one percent being the ending, which meant I would keep going until whatever adult was present lost their last nerve. I tried again as an adult, trading private lessons from a musician friend for dogsitting when she and her hubby had gigs out of town. I mastered scales. We will not mention the guitar incident.

None of this deterred me. I’m an extrovert. Put me in a bunch of people and I can run off the energy for days. Put me in front of a bunch of people and let me do my stuff and I can run off the energy for weeks. If I’m doing it right, it’s an even exchange and they take away something good as well. All of which means a career in the arts is probably a good thing.

While my high school musical aspirations came to naught (oh Glee, where were you in the 80s?)I did love theater, and if I had to do college again, I’d have majored in that instead of education. Still, the Tardis is broken, so I can only go forward. Theater and a middle school English teacher who consistently picked my assignments to read to the class pointed me towards the areas where I could excel.

Theater not only gave me the chance to experience the pure magic chemistry of a really good cast and the ability to jump into a character and walk about in somebody else’s skin for a couple of hours in front of people who paid to see it, but two moments unique to performance.

Nothing can compare to that moment in the wings right before taking the stage, the only thing between backstage and the audience being the curtain that is going to go up any second now. No more chances to get it right; this is do or die. It also leads to the other one, that skip of a heartbeat when the performer does take the stage, eyes adjusting to the footlights, and best of all, can see the audience. All those faces, focused on the stage. It’s perfect.

If I could distill the rock star ambition into one snapshot, it would be the opening frames of James Blunt’s “I’m Your Man” video, (coincidentally a song I’m playing a lot while revising a certain scene from my hero's POV.) Walking/running down the corridor on the way to the stage, right before the show is slated to begin, said corridor lined with well-wishers who all have a hand in what everybody's about to energy drink can give that kind of rush.

So far, I have been less than successful in convincing my family members to reenact this on my way to the keyboard each morning, so I'll rely on knowing my cheering section is there in spirit. Then again, knowing my notoriously bad depth perception, any euphoric rush into the footlights would likely result in something perilously close to the true story behind Ben Folds' "Hiroshima" (aka "Benny Hit His Head.)

The attitude, though, that I can have. Nobody can tell my stories but me, and if I give each story my all and do it the way only I can do it, that's rockstar writing in my book. Pun intended. As long as I have the vision and the confidence and know that even if I do end up charging off the stage and doing a faceplant -and those days will come- I can get back up and with the right attitude, make that into something good.

For me, being a rockstar is about knowing my voice and finding the right platform to connect with the audience - since I'm a writer, that would be the readers. It's about dedication to doing the best job possible, to introduce the people who live in my head to the world at large in a way that connects and lets the readers into the story world. Knowing that a reader caught the writer's vision, visited the story world and met the people who live there, that's a rockstar moment for sure. Holding up homemade glittery signs for a favorite author isn't mandatory, but it couldn't hurt, either.

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