Fiction

From Westport to Montgomery

In 1920 Zelda told Scott she was homesick and had a serious hankering for biscuits and peaches. At the time they were living in Westport, CT. Scott suggested they drive down and surprise her parents. curise coverNot an easy jaunt even today, but imagine what the roads were like back in those days. No AAA to bail you out when the car conked out. Few service stations along the way either. Scott wrote about the adventure in a short story called The Cruise of the Rolling Junk.

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My partner in crime and I are making the same trip, albiet by airplane for the Fitzgerald Society Conference. We’re presenting our thesis about Westport’s role in Scott’s writing. Should be lots of fun, but we’re both a bit antsy given that the conference is attended by academics, folks that have dedicated their lives to the study of Fitzgerald. We’ve hired a film crew and we’ll be capturing all the thrills and chills along the way.

One Hundred False Starts by F. Scott Fitzgerald

fitz essay coverLast week I obtained a copy of ‘One Hundred False Starts,’ an essay written by F. Scott Fitzgerald that ran in the March, 1933 issue of the Saturday Evening Post. The essay captures what appears to be real ‘false starts’ Fitzgerald had experienced as a writer.

Snippets, phrases, names, scenarios, often unintelligible scraps of thought, all captured on paper to jog his memory to flush out the idea at a later date. As a writer who has dropped the ball on countless sparks of so-called brilliance, it was comforting to feel the struggle, the joy, and the confusion over bubbles of inspiration that felt flat upon later inspection.

Fitzgerald concluded that the key to avoiding a future filled with false starts is to begin with an emotion, one that’s close to you, one that you can understand. He was talking about himself, but his words resonated because I’ve grappled with false starts for years. My output is not nearly as prolific as others. I often lose interest in an idea that at first glance appears to be the mother lode.

This fool’s gold typically lacks an emotional connection, it’s one of the reasons I struggle to co-write songs, all too often the team is writing about things that have no meaning for me. I might intellectually get the concept, but I’m not feeling it, it doesn’t pump through my veins with urgency.

Fitzgerald also said in the essay:

Mostly, we authors must repeat ourselves—that’s the truth. We have two or three great and moving experiences in our lives—experiences so great and moving that it doesn’t seem at the time that anyone else has been so caught up and pounded and dazzled and astonished and beaten and broken and rescued and illuminated and rewarded and humbled in just that way ever before.

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People often ask why I didn’t write a memoir about my divorce. They wrongly believe that My Year as a Clown is a thinly disguised novel for what actually happened in my marriage. My Year as a Clown works because I understood the underlying emotions that were in play during those difficult days. Perhaps more important, I put enough distance between the writing and the events to create a narrative that harnessed those emotions in ways that made my characters feel real even though most of the facts are fictitious.

When I set out with my partner, Richard Webb, to do this Fitzgerald film for the Westport Historical Society, I had no idea what I was really getting into. I got chills holding letters from Scott and Zelda when we were in Princeton reviewing personal correspondence. And now, as an added bonus, I’m learning about Fitzgerald’s process. This is like taking an MFA in Fitzgerald at a University without all the hassle or tuition.

The adventure continues . . .

 

West Village Reading, Tuesday September 17 @ 7 PM

IR Approved Sticker 2I’m reading next Tuesday at the Indie Reader event Authors Unbound. I’ll be joined by three other authors. I’ll be reading from My Year as a Clown as well as playing the song that’s a free download in the book. Hope to see you there.

Entwine Wine Bar

765 Washington Street

West Village

 

 

 

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My Year as a Clown hits the Virtual Road this Fall

 

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be rolling through the virtual book blogging world throughout the fall, first with Teddy Rose:

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and then with Tracee and Pump up your book:

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More details to come as tour dates and locations are sorted.

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