Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Letters from Marilyn - Update 19

Happy Wednesday, loves!

I have been having a simply fabulous week. Why, you ask? Let's take a little life stroll before we get into the latest update on Letters from Marilyn. First, all of my 500+ student papers were graded in time for conferences. On the theatre front, I have written the blocking for my entire musical, audition and callbacks material is ready to go, the set is designed, and I have my first two weeks of rehearsals mapped out. And with life: I've had opportunities to see family, celebrate my sister's birthday, and time to catch up with people. Lots of love to all of you for the conversations and your good vibes. I enjoy hearing from everyone. Thank you world, things can only continue to go up from here. I'm excited to see what you have in store for me in the days, weeks, and months to come.

I also have some exciting news to share regarding Letters from Marilyn. I have a prospective literary agent, and am now in the stages of writing sample chapters to send to the agency (along with other agencies, of course!). One thing I love about writing is the flexibility it gives me, so I can continue to write remotely from wherever I like and still do all of the other things that I love: theatre, music, education, etc. It's hard to focus on just one thing when you have many things you are passionate about! It also gives me the flexibility to be both an introvert and an extrovert. I get the time to write, to reflect, and yet still get the time to talk with you, my close family and friends. So those of you I have had many conversations with recently these past few weeks or so (whether it be in person or via social media!) know that I appreciate and value you. Just hearing how you are doing makes my extrovert-heart happy. Now that things have settled down for me, I hope to spend more time focused on you.

Put in the words of one of my students, I have apparently been living on "cloud nine" this past week as a result of all this news. Education sidebar (since I promised this story for my family following on Facebook!): every time I have had a student use this phrase, they also must ask if I have a boyfriend. That's middle schoolers for you - very interested in all aspects of my personal life. "No, children, I do not have a boyfriend yet. Yes, I realize you find that information clearly more fascinating than our textbook, but we still have 10 pages of reading to cover in the next 45 minutes, so please don't make me go all Severus Snape with the 'TURN TO PAGE 394!' okay?" Now that I have had a chance to come down from my writer's "cloud nine" a bit, let's shift our focus to Marilyn and her life.

The reason for today's life and education tidbits is two-fold: first, many of you following my Facebook & Twitter page have asked how I've been and how teaching has been going. Here you are: it is going well, much better than last year. I am flattered you want to hear about my life and silly ramblings, and I am more than happy to supply those here and on my Facebook page. I hope you don't get sick of my crazy stories too quickly!

The second piece of this is in connection to my last update. After all, you know I feel a close kinship with Marilyn and the fact that she was going into vocal music education. She was a pianist, a musician, a vocalist - all things that I am too. In my previous post, I mentioned struggling with the style of this novel. I've decided for now - with the help of the lit agencies - to write this with my infused life stories too. After all, I've already been doing that on some level when I've shared snippets of her letters. Think a la Julie and Julia.

The downside of this style (but not enough of one to discourage me!) is that I have had to do a lot of restructuring to my current drafts. I've had to review and pour over letters, pulling details that were not included in my first set of drafts. I had hoped to share some of this drafting with you today, but I need more time to complete it. Now that all the life things are caught up, I hope to have more time to write in the evenings with a clear mind (and hopefully, clear sinuses - thanks a lot October for all the seasonal allergies, it is not distracting at all).

We do not have school the next two days, and I do not have any plans for the first time in a while (which is a remarkable feeling, because it means I'm not set into a fixed schedule and can make whatever plans I desire for the next 4 days!). So look for another update soon, dear readers. On Facebook alone, so many of you offered congratulations on this next big step. I appreciate you. Your well-wishes are so thoughtful and kind. Within the last 4 weeks, Certainly Candid has received 1,307 views. I am floored at how far we have come since I started this project, so thank you again. More to come soon. 

Love always.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Letters from Marilyn - Update 18


That sentence both excites and terrifies me. I'm. Writing. A. Book. The light at the end of this very long writer's tunnel is now visible to me, readers. I am so close, I can feel it.

Today I dragged out all of my college writing resources to brush up on how I want to approach writing Marilyn's story. Because readers, you have only seen a glimpse of her life and letters. I have shared here only what I feel is most important. Certainly Candid has included a snapshot of her life. Now the overarching goal is the full picture - including all of the historical components.

I struggle making monumental decisions like the style of this novel. Do I want to write it in 1st person, from Marilyn's point of view? Do I want to infuse my own life lessons and this journey into it, a la Julie and Julia? Do I want to switch perspectives and write from Jennie's (her mother's) point of view in alternating chapters? Or do I want it to purely be a story - written in the 3rd person, as a narrative of Marilyn's life at Augsburg?

Right now, the answer is all of these! Not permanently, of course. As a general outlook, I believe play has a powerful impact on how we approach tasks and goals in life. If you don't get a chance to play, to practice, to take risks, how will you know what works best? I remind myself of this daily: to play and have fun. We only get so many days on earth (as the condolence letters to M's family reflect). We must enjoy our days, our activities, our passions, our work. Because if we don't, are we really fulfilling our life purpose?

With that being said, I am approaching Letters from Marilyn in a similar manner. It's been 15 months since I started this project, and even on the days where I feel stressed and overwhelmed with the magnitude of it, I remind myself of this: I am doing this because I am passionate about it, because it is fun, and because it makes me (and others) happy

As a result, today's update is merely that: an update on how this is all going. I know it's short, but that doesn't mean I'm not writing. The picture of this post very accurately depicts where I am at. 543 pages of letters. 15 months of research. 3 potential literary agents. 2 notebooks filled. 1 trip to Augsburg. And now, the crafting of a story. The next update will include the final set of condolence letters and a snippet of the actual novel (since I'm not writing that here online).

I know I've said it many, many times, and yet each time it doesn't feel adequate. So once again, thank you, dear readers, from the bottom of my heart. Views are climbing higher into the thousands. You have shared these posts hundreds of times. I've had many emails, FB messages, Twitter responses, and comments with your support. I don't deserve such a dedicated following, and yet, you are all still here, as equally (or even more so) invested in Marilyn. You all have my unwavering gratitude.

Love always.
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