Saturday, April 18, 2009


When I began this blog, I told myself I would never deviate from the process of writing, that I would devote these pages to my struggle to be heard. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to remain within self-imposed parameters, we must move outside those boundaries. This, my friends, is one of those times.

In the past few days, I've been hearing chatter about a Scottish woman, Susan Boyle. A contestant on one of the myriad of television programs that echo the format of Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour from 1950's America, Ms. Boyle took the plunge. She gathered her courage and auditioned for Britain's Got Talent. For the first time in her life, she faced more than her church's congregation. At forty-seven years of age and unemployed, she faced the sobering visage of Simon Cowell.

Ms. Boyle's nervousness gave the impression that she was just another addle-brained housewife looking for an opportunity to be on television. When Cowell asked, "What is the dream?", she responded, "I'm trying to become a professional singer." The audience roared with laughter, as did the judges, with Cowell rolling his eyes.

"What will you be singing for us?" was Cowell's next question.

"I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables," Ms. Boyle said as she gave the high sign to the audio engineer and he pushed the button to start the soundtrack. The rich music swelled and the dowdy little woman began. Within the first two bars, the audience rose to its feet as the purity of the voice brought many to tears. The soundtrack began to fade and Ms. Boyle almost whispered the last line, "Life has killed the dream I dreamed." The laughter with which she had been greeted was lost in the roar of the crowd and its standing ovation.

I can only imagine what Susan Boyle's life has been. Here, I give way to conjecture. Imagine spending nearly half a century with a dream. Imagine having heard the accolades of fellow choir members or from family. Imagine the times she's sung to herself and wondered if she was really any good. Imagine the one or two voices who dampened her dream. Think of the voice that whispered, "Actresses are beautiful. Take a look in the mirror if you think you can make it." Think of that voice that warned, "Showbiz is tough. You're good, but..." Think of the courage it required for her to stand on that stage.

Like Ms. Boyle, I have a dream. Like Ms. Boyle, I'm making the effort to realize my dream rather late in life, and I, too, have endured those discouraging voices. I can only hope that what I believe about myself is true. I can only hope that I'm not too late, that I'll have a moment in the spotlight and that, like Ms. Boyle, I can prove to myself and all those voices that talent transcends time.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


The third of my attempts at becoming a novelist is slowly forming within my word processing unit. I've just rounded chapter six. Given illness and a death in the family, I suppose I should be happy that I've made it this far. I'm not. I'm beginning to get that nagging feeling that I should, as they say, 'get a move on.'

Why? Because, as always, I'm impatient. I keep telling myself that by now I should be working on revision rather than first draft. And believe me! This is a first draft. A friend of mine finishes her first draft and sends it to beta right away. She can. She's been at this longer, she's managed to snatch an agent and a publisher, and she knows who she is as a writer. She's not exactly Father Time, but compared to me, she's an ancient, wizened writer. I'm still a toddler while she's got the writing biz down to a science. Can she make mistakes? Sure, but she's far less likely to do so than this babe in swaddling clothes. What's she got that I ain't got? Patience.

I'm reminded of Shawshank Redemption, of the hero spending decades pounding through the concrete with his little rock hammer. The whole escape process from the movie is very much a metaphor for becoming a writer. We hammer at our keyboards instead of concrete but getting the agent and publisher we need is equally difficult. The main character in Shawshank never gave up, no matter what obstacles he came across or what voice told him it was impossible. He didn't rush the process. He looked at each segment of concrete powder, grinned, and kept on pushing until, one layer at a time, he managed to reach his goal.

That's what it's all about, I suppose. We just have to keep on pushing, pounding away at the concrete wall that separates us from success. The powder will drop to the floor each time we made headway, and then finally....poof! Goal reached.

I'll try to keep Shawshank's hero in mind as I struggle with the WIP. BTW, I'm feeling better already!