I don’t write to be famous, I don’t write to be known, I write because I am and I want to be read. How sad to fill a room with paintings no one sees or play music no one hears. Writing is talking without sound, singing without score and dancing without movement and yet, it is all of them. It is a solitary art conjured from thought and expressed by the need to communicate.

HEAD SLAPS, SPEED BUMPS and LIGHTBULBS, one woman's WTF, oops and ah-ha moments of life.

They were published once, and as every writer knows, once is not enough.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Singing in the lane

This column ran last July. I am posting it because of the angst some of my on-line brilliant writer friends exhibit regarding reading their work in public. This method may seem a little weird but it works for me. Maybe I should file it under the boy-scout motto, be prepared.

After a co-worker and I worked a particularly difficult day we hung around for a few minutes after work talking, or rather bonding, over the significance of our efforts, or insignificance depending on which side of the paycheck you’re on. That’s when she admitted something quite personal about herself, something she said she has always hesitated to share with others. Since I’m not shy about sharing information, especially someone elses, I’ll just come right out and reveal…she sings in the car. Not only does she sing but when she’s on a long road-trip and plays car tag, you know, passing and being passed as the miles pile on, she stops singing if the same car goes by, she doesn’t want the total strangers she will never see again, see her as back-up for Madonna or Celine.

I laughed, not because it was funny but because I used to do exactly the same thing. That was way back when AM was standard and FM an option; I was the fifth Beatle. Now… not so much; NPR does not inspire auto-dueting.

Our after work conversation went from…since you revealed something…it’s now my turn. I talk to myself, in my car.

Because I write I sometimes practice dialog, opening sentences or log lines. If a particular phrase seems stilted I speak it out loud until it sounds just right. But…here’s the interesting and kind of weird part, sometimes, I’m interviewed. On the way to work the ladies of The View might be asking the questions and on the way home, Diane Sawyer or Anderson Cooper. Yes, I actually practice questions and answers. Why?

I am comfortable speaking in front of ten people or ten thousand; I was interviewed on Fox News at their national studio in NYC, (they sent a limo, 3 hour trip each way to use five minutes of my Andy Warhol fifteen minutes of fame), so amend that comfort level to millions. It really doesn’t make me nervous, if I am prepared.

Years back I was invited to be the guest speaker for a group of writers in New London. Even though I had garnered some small success I didn’t have a clue what they’d ask or what I’d answer. So I practiced my speech alone, in the car on the way to work and on the way home, until I felt comfortable with my presentation and with answering just about any question I thought they would come up with. One afternoon, as I was stopped at light, jabbering on and on,  I looked at the car stopped in front of me, it was one of those big old station wagons with a third bench-seat seat facing backwards. Three young boys were staring at me while I was being interviewed by Walter Cronkite. I went mute, embarrassed by those three little boys staring at the whacked-woman flapping her gums in the car behind them. (This was before cell phones and Bluetooth.) One of the young boys pointed his index finger at his temple and drew small quick-circles, the universal sign for, “lady you are crazy”.

Glancing into the back seat of my car, I pretended to talk to a child in a car-seat; an action in it's self which qualified me for the funny farm.

Now, I don’t care who sees me being interviewed by Morley Safer; they’ll just think I’m on the phone.

The next morning when I went to work my co-worker asked me, “So, on the way in this morning you were interviewed by...”
“Oprah,” I said, “and you sang with…”
“Aretha,” she said.


  1. I love the story. I talk to myself ALL the time. Sometimes I am my own best company. With a boring husband I find conversation with him aggravating. On the other hand, I am quite deft at conversation and thoroughly enjoy my own sense of humor. Yes, talking in the car is much easier these days - they can only assume you are on a hands free cell phone! But at my age, with my lunacy I don't give a rats ass who sees me.

    1. Isn't it wonderful when you reach an age when you don't give a shit what people think. That's why I like to say 'fuck' so much. It freaks people out that a gray haired matron born when a haberdasher was President spouts profanity. I love it.
      The downside, death is closer.

  2. Nice! Car as world stage, now that's an idea I can use.

    I envy your confidence, Carolynn. I think it comes from your sense of humor---you never take yourself too seriously. It's a lovely quality in a person.

    1. Averil you are so sweet.
      I have learned that if I don't take myself seriously other people won't either. The only problem is when you have something serious to impart people look at you like you're about to come up with a punchline.
      And that's okay because if I piss people off, I lose them, make them laugh and I own their temperament, if only for a moment.