Musical Youth, the manuscript of mine that placed second for the Burt Award in 2014 and is soon to be published, was fresh in my mind, recently, as I dug through my e-folder filled with scraps of things – unfinished things, ideas for things. If nothing fresher is present-please, I sometimes go, during my writing time, to this folder and rip and stitch these unfinished things. On this occasion, I opened a doc entitled The Guitar Lessons. Here’s part of the synopsis:
“… a girl who … didn’t believe in herself… guitar lessons … delighting only in the time it allowed her to spend at the home of her mother’s mother … who frightened her as a child but now intrigues her teenage self searching for self. But when the school talent show to send a selectee to national competition comes up she nurtures a secret dream of entering…but lacks the confidence…”
That’s not the plot of Musical Youth, those aren’t the characters, but in the notes and scribbling in the five pages of the unfinished Guitar Lessons, I was discovering, with a kind of wonder, connections to, in fact, what might well have been, the seeds of Musical Youth.
Note well, I hadn’t even remembered The Guitar Lessons existed when I wrote Musical Youth, or since, hadn’t been thinking of it at all, and there’s enough that’s different that I know it’s not the same story. Still, maybe that’s why I was able to write Musical Youth as quickly as I did…maybe the seed of the story had long been there, forgotten scribbles, just waiting to be told.
It’s a good argument for hoarding those bits and pieces of things that impress upon us somehow but don’t quite go anywhere, not right away.
It’s fascinating to me as I try still to figure out how all this works, this thing grounded by craft and experience, buoyed by memory and imagination; and a certain unfathomable magic. It fascinated me no world to flip through those long forgotten scribblings in the Lessons doc and realize that some version of the characters that danced their way into Musical Youth, some version of the scenarios and themes that shaped it had been there somewhere in my subconscious, waiting.
Makes me wonder what else is lying dormant, waiting.