Monday, May 14, 2012

What Am I Going to Write Next?

Ahh, what a question! When I began the quest to write a book, I started, as many writers do, with a story that was nothing more than "Bibliotheraphy". Did I coin that word? In any case it was centered around a rather unsettled life I was going through at the time, not that much has changed. After putting that beginning aside for twenty years to pursue borderline careers in Rock & Roll and theatre and at the behest of college bud, Tom Robbins, I picked it up again.

I was again unsettled, but thought maybe if I continued where I left off, I could prime the pump. When I read it, I couldn't believe how (wonderful? No. Awful) it was, but it was a beginning, so I persisted. After two thousand pages with nothing happening, characters I could no longer relate to, affected description and more, I threw it away and faced the proverbial question: "What am I going to write next?"

I was lucky in one sense. I didn't have to live up to a previous "best-seller". I didn't really have to live up to anything, but I didn't have a subject, so I began another self-serving "Bibliotherapeutic" (I know I coined that one) novel. It would have been easier to write a biography of someone else. I did complete it, though not my literary therapy, and even came up with a decent title: A Slow and Careful Dance. A couple of agents liked it, but did nothing with it; consequently I went back to my old technique and "put it aside". (It is still there). The same question then faced me again: "What am I going to write next?"

I asked friends and fellow scribblers and was answered by one friend with a question. Don't you love that? Actually, it got me started on the right track. The question was, "What do you love most?" Obviously, in my previous two attempts it was "myself", but that didn't work. I thought about it for a minute and a half and answered. "Music." It was a revelation. An epiphany. I was elated and then asked myself what I was going to write about music.

The answer was not immediately apparent, but the more I thought about it, the more I knew there was something to that suggestion. I had, after all, been in the business for many years, had taken part in almost every form of music, except classical. Pop combos, progressive jazz, doo-wop, rock and roll country and finally management. Much has been done with R&R(Almost Famous) and Doo-wop(The Five Heartbeats), so I discounted those. It was in the last two, especially management, where I believed I could use the knowledge I had gained through experience and come up with a decent story line.

I had been in Nashville when the country music industry changed. The old familial atmosphere was becoming a money-driven environment that competed with the most popular forms of music. Lyrics began to loosen up a bit with sex becoming a significant ingredient via Kris Kristofferson (Help Me Make It Through the Night), the white and black hats arrived and with all these changes, the more seedy elements of Rock & Roll and other forms of music tagged along.

This was where the story lay. I had dealt with these elements in managing groups I represented in Philadelphia and New York. Michael Corleone had nothing on some of the people I had to work with back during my Rock & Roll days and the general public had no concept of what the industry was like. Even many of the performers had no idea. They had people like me to handle those things. The story was there. The characters were there. I could write about something from first-hand knowledge that provided information that not many people knew. Now all I had to do was write it.

The ghosts of novels abandoned past haunted me, but I made up my mind to persist and the quest began.

(To Be Continued)

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