Once I went to a Sing-Along-Messiah, thinking that, Hey, I used to read music and Hey, I love Handel. I mean, both are true. But there I was with the music and the lyrics, staring out at the group of people singing along around me, realizing, I don't know JACK!
I was really happy when that known part came along--whatever it is--and I could hum a few bars, but the rest, as they say, was silence. At least on my part.
I think my experience with Handel's Messiah was what many folks experience as they start writing. Hey, they think. I can write and Hey, they continue, I love to read. They show up on the first day of their writing class and realize that a little bit more is involved. some, as I did with song, stay silent. Most try hard and are irritated that their readers don't get it. Others work really hard and push their way into knowledge and then, truly, write. Even then, years go by before they are writing well enough to gain a mass audience. More than likely, they stay in the chorus and keep at it, important but not celebrated.
Once, a writing teacher said, "In what other profession do people who on the basis of literacy show up and proclaim themselves writers? Would you, on a given day, walk into a hospital, tell the tech to give you a lab report or x-ray to read? Would you proclaim one night at a cocktail party, 'By Jove, I think I'll be a doctor!'"
The answer is no, of course, but we, her class, were appalled to hear her subsequently state that we should consider our first ten years of writing as an apprenticeship.
This was hard to hear. But now, going back to my Handel horror, I get it. Again. It's as if I showed up there ready for my close up. My opera career was coming hard upon, and all I needed to do was open my mouth and sing.
If only it were that easy.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org