The view from here


Hope everyone's had a wonderfully productive week. I'm in New York working on a bombastically fun project. Rue McClanahan's book is being adapted for Broadway, and as her memoir guru, I've been brought in to collaborate on the script. Suddenly, everything I've learned in my script/screenwriting studies over the last year is coming into play (ba-dum-bum CHHH!). I had no idea where, when, how, or if I was ever going to use any of that, but now here I am.

The last few times I've been in the city, I've stayed at the pleasant Park Central Hotel on 7th Ave betwixt 56th & 57th. Close to the publishing and theater neighborhoods, an easy hop to anywhere on the subway. This week, I'm on the 11th floor. From up here, the people on the street look busy but not as intimidating as they seemed to me the first few times I came to New York. What looks like a tangle of traffic from street level -- dodging taxis, rumbling buses, daring pedestrians -- from up here, it all makes perfect sense. It's like looking down on the June Taylor Dancers and seeing their ridiculously fabulous legs forming stars and asterisks.

Looking up, there's a lot going on between here and the skyline. And a whole lot more between skyline and sky. Last night, I opened the window and listened to someone practicing violin somewhere overhead. This morning, someone a few floors above me leaned out her open window to air a slinky red dress. As I scan the windows straight across the way, I see no less than a dozen people tapping away on laptops.

The 11th floor is about where I see myself as a writer, professionally and artistically. My father always told me, "Luck is preparedness meeting opportunity." By that definition, I've definitely been lucky in my career. This job is a prime example. Writers lay the foundation for their work starting with "Pat the Bunny"; I don't know any writer who wasn't a voracious reader from tiny childhood. By being insatiably interested in people, places, and things, we live in a constant state of research, never knowing how one tidbit or another will come in handy, but knowing that sooner or later it will -- as long as we keep working at our craft. There are always apocryphal tales of those who find an express elevator, but most of us climb, word by word. Don't be afraid to look down once in a while and see how far you've come.

Meanwhile, one glance upward reminds us how far we have to go. We look up and see other writers who (from our perspective) have "made it", and we think their careers are a breeze now. We think, wow, if only I could catch a break, maybe someday I'll get to where they are, but my dears, they're all looking up and thinking the same thing. (Except Stephen King. He looks up and sees...Pluto.) There's no such thing as "arrived" in this business. No such thing as "done" or "enough" or "over." That's part of the thrill. Look up at the skyscrapers once in a while and feel dizzy with your own potential. Look up at the sky and know that there are no boundaries between you and your future.

Then crack out the laptop and get back to work.

Comments

What an exciting opportunity! Congratulations, Joni, and best wishes with the project!
Jo Anne said…
Cool project, Joni! Good for you.

As we get older, with various body parts refusing to perform to our expectations, it's tough to keep passion alive. We writers are lucky, lucky folks. No matter how many floors we've climbed, the process is about looking up - and out and ahead. That's passion.

Ain't life grand?
mamele said…
aw, how fun! and a lovely metaphor to boot. congrats, and you deserve it.

i'm desperately trying to finish my book (hungry, coming from S&S in sept, gulp) and then am off to CA for a wedding, but if you're back or still here in march and would be up for coffee or a drink, i'd love to buy you a bev and say thanks for your wonderful collaboration contract advice.
Dorothy Hagan said…
Congrats, Joni. I am so happy for you. If my time in NY ever comes, I know I will smack down my "fear of high places" tendencies. And yes, there is a metaphor in that.
By the way, that's an especially apt metaphor about the 11th floor! You should be a writer. ;)
Suzan Harden said…
Way to go, Joni! Such a cool opportunity!
Jen Singer said…
Okay, this isn't funny at all, Joni. I came in here to wish you well in the big city, and the stinkin' word verification I have to type in is "chemo."

I am not making that up.

There are so many jokes to make here, and so little time. Insert your own, as God seems to have taken the time to add His.

Meanwhile, congrats on your project. I hope you wind up in NYC a lot so I can take you out for dinner one night. But not when it's this windy and cold.

"Chemo."

Oy.
Joni Rodgers said…
Snarg. That is bad, Jen. (The worst one I've had is "crunt".) I'll be back in a few weeks, and I intend to buy you a bagel. Or something with lots of sugar.
Patty Henderson said…
With your attitude and outlook on life as well as all the blessings you carry how could you not know you'd be there?! I look forward to the shining beams reaching all the way to Texas! Hugs!