OT: My Rosie (Or Why I Write)

One night, three months ago now, while driving one hour each way to one of my gigs, I heard a song on the radio that made me drop everything else I was writing.  I wouldn’t know its title, nor hear it again till two months later (which I announced on Twitter because I’d been looking for it forever), but it stuck with me, seeping through my pores against my will.

At that time, I was in the midst of writing this historical fiction novel.  My heroine, Luna, was in deep, deep trouble, and the hero, Dev, was — well, it doesn’t matter what he was doing now because the entire story got steamrolled to the side all because I heard this one song that changed everything.

In a matter of days, maybe less than a week, I wrote my first 15K words.  The heroine was forming slowly – and begrudgingly, we were  getting to know each other.  And the hero, well,  he had the guise of one Michael Fassbender, and the way his character, Erik, wriggled his way into my writing was slow but sure.  And just like the song, I may not have known its title or its singer then, but I knew, or rather felt, its message.

Finding Sam
I call it my “inspirational cover” while I’m working on the story…

The night Finding Sam was born was April 28 and months later, I’m getting to the finish line, when I ready myself to say good-bye to Sam and Erik and let them live their lives without my meddling (for a while – because there is a Book 2).  But there is one character in the story that propelled Sam and Erik’s stories forward, and that is the character of Rosie, whose name appears in the novel’s opening line (and one that I probably will keep there, even for publication).

Readers who stumble upon Finding Sam have written about how the story makes them cry, and I’ve seen how people read Chapter One in the morning, and eight or ten hours later, they’re voting for Chapter 40 (it’s not done yet).  It’s a marathon read, but one that’s made me realize just how far I’ve come after hearing a song one night, and at first wondering, do men really think that way about love or is it just a way to sell records? to asking myself why the hell am I writing something as vulnerable as this?  Who am I writing this for?

And it made me realize, really realize, that the real muse for Finding Sam isn’t its main character, artist and vulnerable Sam.  Nor is it the patient and stalwart Erik.

It was Rosie, Sam’s friend who starts the novel, well, dying.

Rosie is my friend, Pam.  I met her on my first day in  massage school 17 years ago and we became good friends long after massage school was over.  Each month, we got together and exchanged massages (newsflash:  most massage therapists don’t get regular massages) at my office, then spent 2 more hours having burgers, or Thai food and lots of coffee.

It was to Pam with whom I shared my secret passion for writing.  Up to that point, friends I spent more time with knew me only as the party-loving, always laughing (probably because she was drunk) girl who couldn’t spike a volleyball – but never knowing that I preferred writing more than playing.

It was to Pam to whom I told my wish to write a story set in 1895 Philippines, complete with a brief summary of my characters and little tidbits about my home country.  Not even my family knew about it.  Pam had this knack for listening to you that made you just want to spill your life story.  She was the best – hands down – massage therapist I’d ever allowed to touch my body, because she touched hearts just by being there with you.

My last conversation with Pam was over three years ago, when she called me just as I was getting ready to leave to see clients.  Though Pam was always the one on time all the time, she was also someone worth being late for.

It was during this conversation that she asked me how my novel was shaping up – over ten years since I told her about it, and had  actually NOT written a word.  Pam wanted to learn what happened to Luna, my heroine, and whether her story would continue because she would certainly love to read it when I finished writing it, and when I’d publish it.

But Pam would never get to read my story.

She died a week later — I think, from a pulmonary embolism, for her radiation and chemotherapy treatments had left her with two blood clots just biding their time.  Her final wish was not to have a memorial held for her, and I remember how perplexed and angry I was then as to why, for I needed the closure.  I needed to talk about her, and all the good she had done for me by being my friend.

Most of all, I just needed her.

It’s been three years since Pam’s been gone. She would have been 55 or so and probably giving massages still, her waiting list probably longer than the three months’ wait that it had been before her cancer diagnosis.  Since she’s been gone, I’ve distracted myself with other things, like spinning wool into yarn and gushing over an actor  — yet always feeling an emptiness that I knew only one thing could fill.   This time, there seems to be no escaping Pam’s memory, and her desire to one day read my stories.

Which means, now I write.

And now Pam’s in this story that came out of nowhere, all because I heard a song that touched my heart and my soul – and maybe through this song, she finally got through to me.  And though her character in my story is dead, she’s not forgotten.

Instead, she propels the story forward.  And not just this story, but every story that I’ve written ever since I remembered exactly who it was I was writing for.

It was never for the actors, the so-called muses.  It wasn’t to inject myself as the heroine, as some people scoff is what writers really do (and even if we did, they’re just jealous we can plant ourselves into our worlds). It’s not even for money since I haven’t made a dime .

I write for me – and because of Pam, the real muse.

My Rosie.

Daily Prompt: A Friend In Need

Finish this sentence: “My closest friend is…”

Photographers, artists, poets: show us FRIENDSHIP.

This one’s an easy one.

You see, my closest friend is…me.  Sometimes during days such as today, when everyone wants a piece of me – whether as a massage therapist, instructor, wife, mother, friend, I just want to go to that quiet place inside myself and hang out with me.  Just me, myself and I.

And in this quiet place inside myself, one of me pours the other me a glass of nice expensive Chianti and that other me, lights a cigarette and blows smoke rings in the air.

We’ll talk about how one client totally pushed our buttons – first, as a person resenting having religion pushed down our throats while in the middle of a session, and second, as a writer/poet forced to defend another poet because the very same client is one judgmental bitch.

Then one of me will muse that the day will come when we will no longer be kneading bodies nor teaching about bodies to people who do not get it, that one day we will simply just write and hang out.

We’ll talk about the muse that drives our writing, the one who reminds us of someone real, who really did love us once upon a time, but we were just too much of a handful for the poor guy, even with all his money and his brains – for he could simply not deal with someone who would rather write or work her own hours for a living when to him, the world was simply black and white.  You either work a real job or you don’t.  You can’t have too many grays.

Or we’ll talk about the man who got away, and why we were simply too childish then that we let him go, and wondering out loud how life would have been if we’d taken that other door open to us.  Maybe while we’re doing this, we deserve a few pieces of chocolate while we’re at it.

And after we bitch and moan and dream, we finish our wine and stub the remains of that cigarette, and go back to the world that constantly calls to us.  And then we say good-bye and hope that we’ll get to hang out again very soon, for times like this are the only times we get to feed our souls.

photo-14
Yes, that is totally a boa constrictor named Mistress whom I met at Battery Park

Daily Prompt