Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Where there is more than one child, inevitably, there is inequality. Just as some are born blonde, or hazel-eyed, some are born with perfect pitch. And some, alas, are not. That doesn’t keep both of them from trying out for a singing troupe. And it doesn’t keep one of them from falling short.
Yes, the one who can go toe to toe with Kelly Clarkson is cut. Does the other child, less musical, offer something else? Stage presence or joy? Of course. But even she realizes the decision is both unfair and typical. They watch reality TV. They know talent has nothing to do with anything.
I tell my middle daughter, as I wipe away her tears, that one audition is just a moment in time. That rejection is part of success. And finally, that you can’t let one man determine if you will or will not sing. Don’t give him that power over you, I say, and I am suddenly stopped in my tracks.
Because I sit, waiting on pins and needles, for my agent to weigh in on My Next Novel. Three years of work. A revision that took twice as long as the first draft. Other novels, finished or on their way, not chosen to go next, once shimmering on the desktop with possibility, fade. Up on the bookshelf, two published novels, and four years’ effort to promote them, appear to hang in the balance. They dangle too close to the edge. Their spines look fragile to me now, delicate as tidepool creatures. The vulnerability of paper and screen. Light a match, hit delete.
I, too, wait like a schoolgirl to see the audition list taped to the door.
Don’t do it, I tell myself. No one, even a wise and witty agent, has the power to hold your whole career in her hand.
I summon the presence of a small army behind me, the editors and readers and book bloggers who said yes. The reviewers from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews and Entertainment Weekly who said love. A flash mob with bookmarks approaches, the 250 book clubs I’ve visited, the women who have underlined my sentences and grasped my hands and fed me their homemade coffee cake. We hear you, they say.
Let no one tell you that you cannot sing.