Thursday, November 28, 2019

The One-Trick Pony 1

Quite early in your writing career, when you were hopelessly in love with a girl named Riva, and not convinced your love of writing had much future, your awareness of your lack of ability at plotting brought you considerable angst.

The method by which you hoped to earn a living--writing short stories--did not lend itself to your dreams of future, appeared, in fact, to be as beyond reach as Riva, who would at least greet you when you passed in the halls at UCLA, or even sat next to you when you had the same class.

Most of your then versions of story were about events. One of these narratives, which you wish you had now, took place in twenty or so pages that i
involved a character not unlike you, who stood in a long line in order to purchase tickets for an event scheduled at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, made yet more ephemeral because Riva had agreed to attend the event with you.

While in that precarious stage of life, you were what you have come to think of as a one-trick pony, an individual who had moderate success doing one thing, writing longish narratives about people waiting for things. The things they awaited became the essential theme of the narrative, a fact you pounced on. With sufficient theme, who needed a plot?

Riva continued to greet you in hallways, but she also formed with another the sort of romantic relationship you wished to experience with her. You also discovered, thanks to a fellow student named Ed, the pulp magazines, bordering on evolution toward massmarket paperbacks, featuring mysteries, science fiction, and Westerns, the exact sorts of stories you'd hoped to write.

You dissected such stories the way you dissected frogs and rats in Ms. Thomas's science classes when you were still at the high school level. Your passion for the formula story ruled you to the point where, within the next ten or twelve years, you'd become an editor who was able to acquire books from some of the writers whose work you dissected.

You were no longer a one-trick pony. Nor did you have to stand in line for tickets to events at the Greek Theater or The Shrine Auditorium. You were able, in fact, to become interested in Deidre, whom you knew to be devoted to singing, in particular operatic but as well other program music and a Capella.  You were able to invite Deidre to operas without having to stand in line to buy tickets or, indeed, to devote your full attention to the opera.

Deidre lasted longer than you have, in retrospect, any right to expect. You were still pursuing that other love, the one where you might share your morning coffee, toast, and eggs, along with such thoughts and conversation that arose. How many of your stories began between sips of coffee and bites of breakfast?

You'd stepped off the path of writing short stories in order to follow the accidental distraction of becoming an editor. Then, you met Anne. At the time, you had two of the accouterments needed to pursue a longtime serious personal relationship, a job, and a weekly salary. Had cancer not cut things short, you'd have accomplished with ease the fiftieth anniversary with Anne. As it happened, you reached forty-six.

You still have morning coffee and breakfast with one of the longest relationships of your life. The topic of conversation or thought often relates to ways in which you are no longer a one-trick pony.

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