THE MOVING FINGERS TYPE
29 May 2003
Hey look at this...
This is a check I received yesterday, as royalty for my part in the lyrics for The
Big Voice (have I mentioned it's playing in Rochester right now and that everybody in
the area should go see it immediately?)
This is like being...you know...a professional writer.
It occurs to me, as I look over the past year, that I'm regualrly earning money for
writing reviews, whether I feel competent to write them or not. I'm occasionally earning
money for writing feature articles for the newspaper, and now I've just received $100 for
writing lyrics for a stage show. (OK, it's only one song, and Jimmy wrote some of it--and
they've decided to take it out of the show anyway because, though it's funny and everybody
likes it, it's not autobiographical...but it was part of the show when it won the Drama
Critics Circle award for best musical score...)
I'm starting to be accepted...in very, very teeny circles...as a ... you know...
I can't remember a time when I didn't write. Interestingly, a woman I met recently in
Sonora was a palm reader. She didn't know anybody in our group, but she read each of our
palms and she marveled (or so it seemed) at mine and showed me where every line in my hand
indicated a strong talent for writing. Several years ago a woman I worked with, who was
learning astrology, decided she wanted to create a chart for me. I still have it, but
don't have a clue what it means. She said that in every house on my chart there was some
sort of reference to writing.
People have been telling me all my adult life that I should write a book, that I'd be a
great story teller. But I'm not. I write absolutely abominable fiction. I've tried. For
someone who writes as compulsively (and as constantly) as I do, you'd think there would be
a story somewhere in all of this, but my pathetic attempts at fiction are so awful I
wouldn't even begin to show them to anyone.
I also can't write poetry, the royalty check notwithstanding. I can rewrite someone
else's poetry, but to create the rhythm and meter myself does not come easy, unless it's
tossing off some silly little thing like the poem I wrote for my friend Melody's 40th
birthday (a poem about all of the clients with whom we dealt at the typing company where
we both worked).
Non-fiction is my forte and even though I go through the tortures of the damned to
create a piece on deadline, I love every bloody drop of sweat it takes to create the
I did actually write a
book. In the late 70s, I was named as co-author on the book, "The
Lamplighters: 25 Years of Gilbert and Sullivan in San Francisco." My
"co-authors" Alison S. Lewis and Carolyn McGovern were very generous to list me
as an "author," since my role was to transcribe interviews. Initially we were
going to divide the book up into thirds and each of us write a thirdbut I was struck
with such a sense of inadequacy that I choked and Alison wrote my part. Still, I did write
a paragraph or two in the Introduction, and they let me be co-author.
However, ten years
later, after Gilbert died, it was important to me that there be somewhere recorded
his accomplishments in the 10 years since the first book was written and so Alison and I
collaborated to produce The
Lamplighters Story: 1977-1987. This was partly my story as well, since I'd
participated in most of the events covered and so I was the principal author on that book.
It never made it to the NY Times Best Seller list (or even the co-op newsletter best
seller list!), but you can look me up in the Library of Congress and even check the
book on Amazon.com (where you'll learn it is "out of print--limited
availability," which means that the boxes of leftover books are lost somewhere in the
We weren't paid for either book, but I can honestly say that I'm a published author.
I'm never going to win any writing prizes. (Well, other than the coveted Diarist.net awards, of course!) I am
not a trained writer. Ironically, when i was in college, I didn't take an English class, I
succumbed to the (bad) advice of a roommate and took a speech class, because she told me
it was "an easy A." I kinda forgot the fact that I'm terrified to speak in
public! (I didn't get an A...I don't remember what I got now)
In the days when I had time to read a lot of journals, I was blown away by some of the
true talent of other writers. That's not me. But I have my own stylewhatever it may
beand it's not likely to change much now.
The nice thing is that as I put together these journals and go back to read what I
wrote a couple of years ago, I occasionally come to an entry and think
"Heythat's not bad!" It's nice when you can please yourself.
I would dearly love to find a niche somewhere writing something that would bring
in a regular (small) salary...a bit larger than doing a couple of reviews a month. When I
return from Australia, that will probably be where I start looking to earn money.
Wouldn't be nice if, at my age, I could finally look to make a regular income by doing
the thing that I have loved doing all of my life?