I always remember dates. July 22nd, 1980 is when my grandmother died. June 16, 1991 is when I graduated from high school (you bet I was counting the days until graduation) I've always remembered two days in January: January 24th, 1994 was when I took a Creative Writing class with a teacher that truly changed my life. Nine days before on January 15th, we lost one of our best singers: Harry Nilsson.
I've written about Nilsson before; one of my favorite movies of 2010 was the documentary Who Is Harry Nilsson and Why Is Everybody Talking About Him? I knew he died way too young. Yet hearing about it was so bittersweet: In 1993 Nilsson had a massive heart attack. He was told he had a year to live, maybe less. All the years of drinking/using drugs caught up with him. But he decided to go forward. He managed to get his family out of bankruptcy (a former manager embezzled all his life savings) and did the best he could. The night before he died, he was watching Enchanted April with his wife Una. She was nodding off, so she told him she had to go to bed. He looked at her and said "I just want to tell you I love you so much." He drawled out the so as long as possible. They'd been together twenty years; meeting at an ice cream parlor Una was working at the summer of 1973. She was nineteen, he was thirty-two.That January night, Una kissed her husband good night. They knew the end was coming. It came that night.
Flash forward nineteen years. I am doing my usual puttering around, figuring out what books I can donate to the Friends of the Library, which ones I can keep. I opened up a drawer. There was a folder there. I picked it up. It was a short story I wrote during one of the first writing workshops I took. The story was about a girl who was visiting New York. She was lonely, confused, and hot. Many things were going on in her life, some of it way too much for her to deal with. While the story was based on a trip to New York City I took when I was sixteen, I changed so many details. It was truly fiction. While the character Oona and I are alike, the story is mostly made up. The story had my teacher's comments on it. I realized wow, she was right on about it. I also thought: I need to revise this story.
I walked to the computer. Opened up a Word document. I titled the story "I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City." I knew it was the title of a Harry Nilsson song; he wrote it for Midnight Cowboy. I started writing. I wrote all that afternoon. A month later, I revised, then revised again.
Last fall RR author Jennifer Niven announced she was creating a new ezine for teens: Germ Magazine. She got the name because sometimes we have "germs" of ideas; we either make them into something more or they stay germs. I had a germ of a story that had been revised into a short story. I looked at it again, did some editing, then sent it to Jennifer, praying she would like it. She loved it. Later I heard from her and lit editor Sheryl Monks that the ezine would make its debut on New Year's Day.
The acceptance gave me a total lift. I had some setbacks in 2013. I'm not ready to say anything about it yet; it concerns my family/extended family, plus there are some things I want to keep private. I know, hard to believe. I will say don't worry, I'm fine. I'm just trying to figure out what to do next with my life. The road always goes back to writing. It's what I do. It's in my blood.
The ezine was delayed two weeks. At first I was bummed. Then today it was born. And oh, what a beautiful ezine it is. Okay, I'm biased because I'm in it, but it truly is beautiful (And you need to read it once you're done with this blog)
Then I remembered the date: January 15th. Twenty years ago, we lost Harry Nilsson. Today, a story I wrote was published that shares a title from a song of his. It's set in the city where by chance, he wandered by an ice cream parlor and saw a brown haired girl he fell in love with. They were meant to be together. I was meant to write that story. It was meant to be published today. The brown haired girl even shares a name with my character. There are no accidents here.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries