a novel by Geoff Schutt
There was a scene from one of the last times the three of them were together. Her father and her mother and their little girl, Eleanor. The "Tonight Show" was on. One of the girls from "Little House on the Prairie," Melissa Gilbert, all grown up and starring in a made-for-television movie, was telling Jay Leno about her years as Michael Landon's daughter.
Eleanor, on her stomach in front of the TV, her elbows bent so her chin could rest on her upturned palms, turned to look at her father. "How old was Melissa Gilbert when she became a big star?" she asked.
Her father, Jay Spain, shrugged his shoulders.
"I'm being passed over," Eleanor said, sounding very old. "All of the good parts have been taken."
"No they haven't," Jay said. "If you want to be an actress, you'll have plenty of chances for good parts."
But now Eleanor was sitting up. "I'm already an actress," she said. "And I'm already a failure!"
"No, you aren't," Jay said.
"We're all failures!" Eleanor said. "We all are!"
Nina Spain was standing beside the door to the kitchen. She held open her arms for Eleanor but Eleanor ignored her and began to run around the room screaming "Failures! Failures!"
Nina came over the couch and kicked Jay in the leg. "See what you started?" Nina said.
And Eleanor was in the corner, curling up into a tiny ball, her arms wrapped around her legs. "I'll never be a star," she was crying. "I'll never be famous."
Nina, her mother Nina Spain who wasn't a big hot-shot Hollywood TV star, went to her. Nina, her mother, was consoling her. "There's only one Melissa Gilbert," Nina said softly. "And there's only one Eleanor Spain."
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.