I awoke with a toothache, or rather a toothache awoke me, and I envisioned a big title for a posting, the boldest of bold print, the kind of type that leaps off of the page, or computer in this case: "The Greatest Toothaches in Literary History." That could certainly lead to a lot of tangents about pain.
But as I opened my copy of "The Writer's Almanac" for the morning, I see there are some momentous happenings this day.
1. In 1920, F. Scott Fitzgerald published his first novel, This Side of Paradise, which took its title from a Rupert Brooke poem (excerpted at the left side of this column), and which this thog borrows from both Fitzgerald and Brooke.
2. It's Robert Frost's birthday (1874). We've already written lots about Robert Frost in a previous thog posting, and will again in future postings, I'm sure, so, "Happy Birthday, Robert Frost!"
3. Tennessee Williams was born on this day in 1911.
New Orleans has a spectacular Tennessee Williams festival each year. In 1999 (I think it was 1999), Kim Hunter, one of the original cast members of the Broadway show, "A Streetcar Named Desire," was a special guest. She reprised her role for the film version, as did most of the cast, including Marlon Brando, and won an Academy Award for her work.
During the festival, Kim Hunter stood on a balcony, playing Stella one last time, and anybody could enter a contest to scream up Brando's famous line, or word-that-he-turned-into-a-line: "Stel-la!"
I got up enough nerve to enter, and like every other person in the competition, I dropped to my knees when my number came up, and I opened my arms, and I did my best "Stella" scream. I lost, but that doesn't matter so much. I got to meet Kim Hunter later, and she was so incredibly sweet, and telling stories about the Broadway production of "Streetcar" in particular, about when Brando used to sleep on the stage after rehearsals, staying in character the way that only Brando could do. (Or else he really needed a nap -- we might never know for sure.)
If I should scream today, I'll try to scream my even-better "Stella" in Kim Hunter's memory, and Tennessee Williams' too. My tooth should help that effort to no small effect.
Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Frost, Tennessee Williams: let's do lunch. Actually, I'll sit in the corner, with Stella, or rather, Kim Hunter, and we'll tell stories of grand adventures we've had because of your inspiration.
Save some Anbesol (maximum strength) for me, though. I might need it.
Kim Hunter: "I think it's because it was an emotional story, and emotions come through much stronger in black and white. Color is distracting in a way, it pleases the eye but it doesn't necessarily reach the heart."
To Reach The Green Light At The End Of The Pier
FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES: "We are saving ourselves through the words," says Eleanor, the leading lady of a novel-in-progress. This exploration into the creative process -- which includes plenty of distractions/tangents /thoughts & rants by Eleanor, her Biographer, and selected guest artists -- will continue until Eleanor is certain her story is "right." (But we dare not jump ahead of ourselves.)
There will be the occasional typo (as Eleanor points out), and much of this is intended to be "original draft" -- what comes out of our mouths (heads) first, and then set down in that order. Not all of it will be included in the novel, but all of it is happening in real time.
ELEANOR says: "Please turn the page. Keep reading."
For more of Eleanor and her Biographer -- as well as the work of our many guest artists -- check out the older postings. "Everything is part of the process, and the process is the journey," Eleanor says.