I was fifteen the day my father bought me my first electric guitar. We went to see it after calling about an ad I’d shown him in the paper. We called then went to the home of the young man who was selling the instrument. He showed me this beautiful, crazy-shaped cherry red guitar. He plugged in the practice amp that came with it and he offered it to me to play. But I couldn’t. I’d never played a guitar before. I wanted to so badly that I hadn’t shut up about in months. I wouldn’t have cared if it was ugly, but I was glad it wasn’t. I wanted to learn to play so I had to have a guitar to learn on.
Because, you know, I was going to be a rock star.
|Age 17. Gonna be a Rock Star.|
A friend of a friend showed me Barre chords and suddenly I could play everything AC-DC ever recorded. I was a veritable rock goddess. <insert choral “HALLELUJAH” here>
By the time I was sixteen I was playing lead in an almost-all girl rock band. We kicked ass. I really was good. Though it was accepted at home that I played in a band, it was not exactly encouraged. I wasn’t blocked, but I wasn’t really supported/guided either.
In the end, I learned that trying to maintain a group of 4 or 5 people, manage all their schedules, personality conflicts, and all the crap that came with the “group” aspect of a group-minded effort was much, much harder than playing music.
Then an all-girl band out of California, a group with a real recording contract and real cassette tapes available in real stores, came to our little burg and my band got to open up for them. How awesome, right? I was really psyched. We even got to go out and see their tour bus which was little more than a bunch of bunk beds and a laminated booth taken right out of a BK dining area.
WHAT? <insert that “needle-scratching-over-a-record” sound here>
The view of that bus, the cramped quarters, seeing the musicians I’d looked up to coming in looking half-dead and tired instead of bad-ass glamorous like I’d expected, the kind of blasé attitude their bassist took with me when seeing me in the ladies room after I’d nearly been electrocuted….
I was 17. It made me happy to play rock-n-roll. It was easy. It was fun. And I’d just about died.
So, I wanted to be a rock star. I had talent. I had drive. But seeing what choosing that lifestyle really meant through the ladies we’d opened up for that night, and believing with acute certainty how Odin’s lightning bolts of divine intervention can be delivered through rock-n-roll stage gear, I decided that I was better suited to a different career. One where I depended on me alone to produce a product singularly, not as a group. One where I alone had creative control. One where I alone could succeed or fail according to my abilities /product. I’m sure that also mixed in there was the perk of having control over whether or not the circuits around me were overloaded.
I’d always loved writing. I’d also always loved drawing. Both could be solitary-type careers. I dabbled in both. But books won me. Truth be told, I was happy to write even without success. Telling my own stories made me feel successful inside regardless of not being published.
Then I /did/ get published. <repeat “HALLELUJAH” here>
And I learned that, considering editors, agents, copy editors, typesetters, and cover artists, as well as the “unseen” team of folks like the book buyers at retail outlet corporate headquarters and the publisher’s sales staff…that there’s still a “group” to be dealt with, who have varying portions of –usually valid– input all along the way.
I still play rock-n-roll on my guitar. I still draw. That comes and goes.
But writing is my constant love. If I don’t get to give my time and affection to this love, my general sense of happiness gets effected. Depleted. When I get to spend time in the arms of my new story, all is right with the world.
Maybe I chose to be a career writer. Maybe my stories made that choice for me.
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