Last night, I discovered a streaming series entitled, “The Movies that Made Us.” In its first season, the series explored the making of “Dirty Dancing,” the iconic coming-of-age story of a young woman who falls in love with a dance instructor during her family’s summer vacation at a Catskills resort.
“Dirty Dancing” was released in 1987. I had just moved to Stamford, Connecticut, when the movie came out, but I didn’t know that the studio responsible for “Dirty Dancing” was also based in Stamford or that this studio was known at the time for adult videos, not feature films. I also didn’t know the driving forces behind the movie were two women, or that at least part of the movie was based on the experiences of one of the women, or that they’d ended up with the now-defunct Stamford studio because literally every other studio had turned it down, many claiming it was “too girly.”
The managing editor of Tuxedo Cat Press would like to share a few thoughts.
My name is Charlotte Antoinette Burgh. Once upon a time, I was a pregnant stray. Then, I was a shelter kitty, waiting to be adopted while my adorable little kittens easily found homes.
Today, I am the managing editor of Tuxedo Cat Press.
It wasn’t an easy road. My time on the streets was rocky. In addition to getting knocked up, I got into a few scuffles that left me with a scar on my nose and another on my eye. Not terrible, but enough that some potential adopters didn’t think I was pretty enough.
Several days ago, a friend and I went to a local farm to pick blueberries. In the field, it occurred to me that this would make a terrific blog post, because there were similarities between blueberry picking and the writing process. I took some photos, and I even asked my friend to take photos of me picking. As I filled my container, I looked for ways I could link writing and blueberry picking. It was going to be brilliant, the kind of post that would inspire writers for years to come.
In its way, everything we write reveals us. Not because we’re naming names, but because who we are—what we think, believe, and have experienced—comes through in what we choose to create.
Here’s an example. The novella I plan to publish later this year arose out of the juxtaposition of two very different elements. One element was my beloved Bonanza; in fact, the original version of the novella was created as fan fiction. The other element was my long-ago experience directing a high school drama club, where the kids were talented and enthusiastic and I was utterly clueless. Put the pieces together, revise the living daylights out of them, and voilà! It’s a lighthearted tale about siblings and community theater: My Brother, Romeo, slated for publication this fall.
Benjamin Franklin famously wrote, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” While he was not writing under circumstances even remotely resembling the events I am about to relate, I almost feel as if I understand a little better today the sentiment he expressed more than 265 years ago.
Last night, I was completely ready to be done with this #1000wordsofsummer challenge. This evening, as I watched the news and late-night television for the first time in ages, I wasn’t even thinking of writing.
My original plan for this final day of the #1,000WordsofSummer challenge was to write another 1,000 words in my novel, but that’s not what I’m doing.
Instead, my final 1,000 words will be directed to you, the wonderful folks who have accompanied me on this journey. (This means that my post will be a bit longer than usual, but I’m trusting you to handle it.)
The end of the #1000wordsofsummer challenge is near, and I’m starting to look ahead.
I need to devote serious thought to the structure of the book. Even before the challenge, I was writing discrete scenes here and there in an effort to figure out what the story is–how these people will move ahead, how they will grow and change, what will happen to them and how they will adjust. As a result, I’ve amassed thousands of words with no particular connections. It’s like creating a group of islands with no bridges. Sooner or later, I need to figure out how to get from one place to another.
It helped that I didn’t wait until the wee hours to write, because I’m still exhausted. It’s been a big day in a few ways. I didn’t do a lot of the things on my list, but I did some that came up unexpectedly, plus a few (like mowing the lawn) that I just didn’t want hanging over my head all weekend.
In the law, we often criticize the opposing party’s position by arguing that they’re elevating form over substance. In other words, they’re too concerned about how something is to be done, rather than focusing on the purpose of what’s to be accomplished.