Save the Cat for Novelists

Kicking my writing intentions into high gear for 2019, I dug out my Save the Cat! Writes a Novel. And what I realized is that I’m living the “Save the Cat” life. Art imitating life or life imitating art? There are two thoughts on that one.

Case in point: If you look closely at the “Save the Cat” beat structure, you would see that this time last year I was living my normal life, the status quo, the Setup. We’d just moved into a brand new Florida beach house, a new kitty had joined our little family, we’d had to trade in our Jeep that kept stalling at inconvenient times for a brand new Dodge Challenger (which I love, btw), new furniture to decorate our new house (especially when the electric recliner couch got permanently stuck in the open position), and life was looking pretty darn good. We were set up to live in our forever home, right?

Then, last summer, out of nowhere, we were blindsided. We didn’t see it coming. First, our beloved 18-year-old cat Skipper died and this may sound minimal to non pet lovers, but this was a huge loss that I’m still suffering through (okay, he was old and we knew he couldn’t live forever, but he’d been doing so well). Then, two weeks later my father died. The next month, hubby was summoned back to headquarters in Las Vegas, where we’d just moved from the year before. We thought we’d left Vegas behind. Ah, yes, we were faced with a Catalyst.

So after returning to Florida, the Debate begins. Should we leave Florida, move back to Vegas? The job situation really looked like it. Personally, it seemed like it, too. I was missing my home back west, and the losses were too much for me being so far from home. But we had a brand new house. The cross-country moving expenses are huge. Was it worth it? Where would we live now that we no longer had our Vegas house? Could we recover?

Then we break into Act 2. As Save the Cat says:

The game is afoot! The challenge is accepted! The adventure is upon us! The new way of life has begun! The Debate is over, our hero knows what they have to do, and now it’s time to do it.

This is where we are now. Unexpected challenges occur, resistance is futile, it’s time to take action and move forward into my pursuit of what I really want, and, hopefully, find what it is I really need.

And now, my friends, it’s time to get to work and structure my wip, “save the cat” style.

Ode to Cecilia (#poem)

Stories of California Missions and Father Junipero Serra
Disneyland fireworks from our childhood era
Beach Boys and Beatles and Screamie Birds groupies
Cecilia and I sang “Hang on Sloopy”

From “sexy scientist” to Las Vegas beautician
She called herself “CeeCee” following her ambition
Sitting next to Alan at the sixth grade spelling bee
On stage I saw green but he was mine, she reassured me

“Cecilia, you’re breaking my heart”
Paul Simon sang years later and many miles apart
About a Patroness for poets, novelists, and musicians
Discovering decades later, it was a year after my audition

Hiding in plain sight God touched my soul
He sent priests and musicians and witnesses and moles
Pursuing me relentlessly for as long as it took
Saint Cecilia leading me to sing and write the book

You’re Somebody Else (Warming Up for #2019)

We all have goals we set for the new year, and I’m setting goals for both writing and songwriting, I’ve been struggling with how to juggle both but I find that instead of saying I’ll do music in the morning and writing in the afternoon or vice verse, I just have to go where the muse leads me – as long as it leads me somewhere on a daily (M-F) basis.

The best way I know to start warming up with music is to do some rehearsal vocals as a singalong cover song. So as I was rearranging the kitchen cabinets (have I told you how tiny this kitchen is?) in the Vegas house, I heard this song on Spotify and just had to do my thing with it.

So, here it is, warming up with “You’re Somebody Else” (Flora Cash).

Through the Looking Glass (#poem)

Through the looking glass I see the past
Funny shapes go round and round
Reaching for the wind I cannot grab
Carousel spinning bringing me back

Night times looming without slumber
Fear gripping my skull
Frozen shards preen their splendor
Creative forces strike my surrender

Hearts on fire near my beloved
Breath on the window pane
I feel the essence of its touch
Memories gentle yet so rough

Worries abound in the midnight hour
I pray to shut it down
Counting down to daylight’s power
Sunlight optimism, my favorite flower

With age comes wisdom and its dark side
Absolute terror
Knowledge you cannot hide from your mind
Abounding in the night

Turning back is not an option
Time to put away yesterday’s toys
Would I have gone if I had known the outcome?
Questions I strum on my drum

Throwback Tuesday

So I’ve been sorting through my music files to make a “2018 Accomplishments” list as recommended by the CEO of TAXI A&R (see yesterday’s episode), and I ran across this fun cover version I did sometime last year. It took me back to junior high.

Yes, it’s Christmas and almost winter and the end of the year, but maybe that’s the perfect time to get all nostalgic and look back to the past.

Summertime

 

My Father’s House (#poem)

I slept at my father’s house
But I never saw him at Christmas
How did he decorate with his spouse?
His favorite carols I did not hear or witness
For wanting more, am I such a louse?

He drank coffee at the kitchen table
Reading the morning paper with jam on his chin
I ate his food and listened to fables
He showed me the mountains I would never see again
But nothing more, of that he was not able

No Christmas gifts for me under the tree
No cookies for Santa or Scotch in a glass
Did he celebrate Christmas morning or Christmas Eve?
Or swim in his pool surrounded by grass?
One year I was invited but she did not want me

I slept at my father’s house
For two nights or maybe it was three
High on a mountain away from the lights of town
Why was I a secret, why couldn’t he introduce me?
Was it the other daughter, did she have a breakdown?

So many questions, but the answers are barren
John Wayne was his hero, this I do know
I knocked and I knocked, but I was not let in
The time that we had was something we’d borrowed
Now that he’s gone I sing with the night heron
And the empty space in my heart brings such sorrow

My First Christmas (#poem)

Silver trees, silver cards, and silver bells
The neighbor’s Christmas I remember well
Christmas carols and the Rita and Reesa twins
Jewish tradition mixed with Christian

Presents stacked in the closet
Trees forbidden, I know she fought it
Red wagon pulling brother and me
Backyard tetherball for me to see

Seven years old in the new house
Shiny new bicycle in the land of the mouse
The Rose Parade and Santa Clause Lane
Memories of my first Christmas take me back again

Looking back many years later
Questions demand answers but I mustn’t hate her
Her wounds kept me from my father
Regrets, I’m sure, I must consider
No matter what, I know he loved her
And love is all that really matters

The November Unplugging Experiment

I managed to unplug from social media and blogging for the month of November but I’m not quite sure of the results. Perhaps it’s too soon. But I can say I did more reading, took more classes in electronic music production, learned more songs on my music keyboard, and wrote more lyrics by unplugging.

December finds me halfway across the country in another cross-country move. The new house will give me a casita for a dedicated music studio, which I’m very excited about. This reinforces my belief that I’m supposed to be focusing on music at this stage of my life. I’m certainly being equipped. Now it’s up to me to do the work.

There’s so much more I long to learn and do and accomplish when it comes to music. I’m hungry for it. I’ve got so much lost time to make up for by neglecting it for so many years. I urge you to never give up pursuing your art. But there’s a specific time for everything. Perhaps only now am I ready for this.

And thinking now about how all of you reading this blog and I are connecting in some artistic way inspires me more than I can say.

#Blogtoberfest Day 31: Happy Halloween

Halloween or All Hollows Eve or All Saints Eve is a remembrance of the dead and celebrated liturgically in some churches such as Roman Catholic, Byzantine Catholic and Eastern Orthodoxy.

Not to take away from any of that (the liturgies are beautiful), but speaking of the dead, I’m reminded of recent discussions I’ve read online where people seem to be competing over who has had the worst loss – the death of a mate, the loss of a pet, or divorce and I’ve said that it all depends on the person and the circumstances. But whatever it is, it’s not a competition. And so when I read this quote from On the Brink of Everything (see yesterday’s post), I had to share it:

“At my age, I know people who have lost the dearest person in their lives.”

That is the key – the “dearest” person in their lives. And for some people, that dearest “person” is a pet.

He goes on to say:

At first, they go into deep grief, certain their lives will never again be worth living. But then they slowly awaken to the fact that–not in spite of their loss but because of it–they’ve become bigger, more compassionate people, with more capacity of heart to take in other people’s sorrows and joys.

Loss is not a competition nor is it a narrowly-defined category. Loss is loss and all must be dealt with in compassion.

Happy Halloween, Happy November! See you in December.

Halloween on Mount Charleston

#Blogtoberfest Day 30: On the Brink of Everything

On the Brink of Everything by Parker J. Palmer caught my attention on my recent visit to Barnes & Noble. He may be on the brink of turning 80, but while I don’t agree with some of his thinking, he does share the things that are true for him about growing older, being mentored when he was younger, and becoming a mentor to younger people now. The point is that people of all ages have something to learn from or share with others.

I totally agree. When I was in my 20s through 40s, I often gravitated toward older women who taught me so much. I even wrote a song called “Wise Woman” about my friend from Montreal who I met in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Then somewhere along the way, I noticed younger women were gravitating toward me, looking at me as a mentor and I love fulfilling that role. Sometimes it’s people I’ve met online or at church or wherever. Sometimes it’s my readers.

They say that when you want to learn something new, you have to be willing to be a beginner. And that’s me with music. I have to be a beginner. And so I’ve met such interesting young people as we travel this road together, whether music or poetry.

November is just a couple of days away and I really do feel like I’m on the brink of everything, experimenting with a bit of unplugging and planning another cross country move. I invite you all to travel that road with me. And while I hope to take a blog hiatus during November, I’ll be back to share any experiences/insights worth sharing and I invite you to do the same.

No matter how young or old we are, we’re all on the brink of everything that’s going to come next.