—From CB—

What’s the point? I’ve asked myself that all my life and never come up with an answer—except maybe “That’s what I do.”

Right now, we’re preparing TAPDANCER for publication. No deadline: the world isn’t waiting with bated breath. It’s gone through the usual procedure—69 submissions to agents, 23 to small publishers, all rejections—and now self-publication, with modest sales likely. It involves endless hours of layout on Indesign, hours of designing the covers, and now an oral reading to catch any typos or spasms of literary diarrhea. I read, my co-writer and editor Elizabeth follows a printout.

It’s a great pleasure. I think it’s the best thing we’ve ever written, certainly the funniest and friendliest, and it deserves to have a life. Beyond its long life.

It began with a tearful dream. A friend and long-time colleague was convicted of defacing a billboard that bore an obnoxious political slogan and was sentenced to death by lethal injection. In the dream I watched him die.

As happens often, in outlining it as a play, it changes texture: don’t ask. We had an offer. A theatre in Seattle (we were in Lancaster, PA, at the time) offered to host us for a week’s run of a show we were touring, and at the same time give us the daytime use of their ensemble actors to work on something new. This became TAPDANCER.

We’d improvise all day with them, transcribing and writing all night. In a week we had a play. Their work was wonderful, marred only by the fact that when we gave it a reading, most of the cast hated it: too namby-pamby on the political implications, we gathered.

At the time, we were negotiating moving from our Lancaster theatre to a rehearsal studio—that’s another story—and weren’t certain how to stage TAPDANCER. At last we opted to stage it in a different facility in Lancaster and a very small stage in Philly. It was a hit, not overwhelmingly so, but a hit. Later, we did an audio version, and it was staged by another theatre. I did the draft of a novel, redrafted it, and let it lie fallow. I also attempted a screenplay, which mostly encouraged its gradual drift into the surreal.

It was only with the advent of Covid and strictures on our touring that the move to prose fiction was furthered. It lay there beckoning. Three drafts more, and it seemed ready.

It’s taking its time. I have about a dozen or more short stories I’m working on, and Elizabeth’s pushing forward on the second volume of her memoir. The calendar shows us we’re respectively 81 and 83, not the point where literary careers blossom suddenly. But plays, novels, short stories are like children. Even if the world doesn’t care—it has its own problems—you have a responsibility,. You nurture your stories as you’ve nurtured your children. That’s what you do.


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