Friday, June 24, 2011

On throwing my bra and changing my life

Tonight I’ll be attending a concert by one of my favorite artists on the planet, Marc Cohn.

I’m still mulling whether to toss my bra at him, and trying not to be offended he hasn’t thanked me for the previous six.

Though he won a Grammy in 1991 for best new artist and has produced a number of albums in the past 20 years, he’s known by most people for one of only two songs: “Walking in Memphis” (which I’ll admit I’m not terribly fond of) or “True Companion.”

If everyone who used the latter as part of a wedding ceremony had to pay Marc Cohn a dollar, I suspect he could retire tomorrow. It’s a lovely song Cohn wrote for a woman he was dating and eventually proposed to. They got married, had two children, and lived happily ever after, as the song suggests.

Only…well, they didn’t. Live happily ever after, that is, at least not with each other.

Like a lot of marriages, theirs ended in divorce. Before you shed too many tears for Marc Cohn, you should know he’s happily remarried to television journalist Elizabeth Vargas and they have two lovely children.

And yet, at every Marc Cohn concert I’ve attended (six, in total—just like the bras), audience members continue to shout requests for “True Companion.” You can’t blame them, and I’m as happy as the next person that he plays it at every show.

While introducing the song a few years ago, he made a comment I wish I’d written down, but it went something like this:

I’m so glad this song continues to have meaning for so many people long after it’s lost its original meaning for me.

I’ve thought about that a lot lately as reviewers say wonderfully kind things about Making Waves and as I work through edits on the other two books in my contract.

Though all three books have gone through oodles of rewrites, they were originally created while I was married. It’s probably not surprising to anyone that I can see traces of “married me” in the stories.

When things were still pretty raw a few months ago, I’ll admit that made it tough to get through edits. Now? I can read any of them with a sort of clinical detachment. It’s not that there’s no emotion in them for me, but just that it’s a different emotion now.

I suppose this is something all kinds of artists deal with throughout their careers. Even if whatever sparked the original idea isn’t there anymore, the work itself takes on a life of its own.

Does anyone besides me find that fascinating? Have any of you looked back on something you wrote at a totally different stage in your life and thought, “who the @#$% was I then?” Please share!

I’ll be looking at my bra collection thinking I’ll give Marc one last chance. Black lace, maybe?

22 comments :

talk talk talk / Shireen said...

I too find it fascinating. And not only that, but my writing has changed as well. It's a bit strange to edit something I wrote in a different way than how I do it now.

alwayscoffee said...

Oh, I love this. I know what you mean. I look back on things I wrote, even a few years ago. I was a Totally Different Me then -- and I can see it in the writing. One piece in particular bears certain emotional scares (that were unintended at the time), and it is so interesting to see that.

Beautiful post. Thank you for writing this. And now "Walking in Memphis" will be stuck in my head the whole day. *grin* ~Ali

Patty Blount said...

MY GOD, yes!!!

I used to write lots of fan fiction - which I still recommend for new writers. I think it's a great training ground, getting to play with plot and structure for characters someone else created. But I do look back on that stuff and cringe now.

Even earlier, some of the stuff I wrote while in my teens - work I thought was angsty and edgy. I was a lonely and very serious teenager (nothing like I am now). When I read that stuff today, I want to smack me.

But your post reminds me of something Billy Joel said when asked if he'd re-write/update the song, We Didn't Start the Fire. I can't recall his exact words but he said something along the lines that the song reflects the time in which it was written and should not be updated.

Enjoy your concert and for God's sake, send a link to True Companion so we can get Walking in Memphis out of our heads. :)

Debra Lynn Lazar said...

Every book I've written is from a different stage of my life. I am no longer that person, but traces of me remain.

Sadly, I can totally relate to the married vs soon-to-be-divorced me. I'm trying to distinguish the new me with every breath I take. I'm committed to becoming a more fascinating, sensual, artistic, loving, and all-around more sensational version of myself. A girl's got to have goals, right?

(And, if black lace doesn't work, nothing will!)

Dana Elmendorf said...

Very interesting post. I never thought about songs or books or anything loosing their value over life circumstances but life happens. I have poems for boys I wrote in high school and laugh comically now at them. I think it's awesome you have healed enough to look at you work with cynicism. Good for you.

scarlettspace said...

I love love love Make It With You w/ India.Arie = ) Sexy times a million. I think everyone has a point in their life when the look back and think, "What the @#$% was I thinking?" I've had that moment and I'm 27 I'm sure I'll have many more WTF moments to come lol

Kristina said...

Good luck choosing the appropriate lingerie to toss, but may I offer this thought? If sexy bras don't get a reaction, perhaps a extra large pair of granny panties are more titillating for the man. One never knows...

Kelly Breakey said...

Oh. hell yes!

I even do that on my blog. Go back and read something and wonder who I was when I wrote it. And sometimes I read something and think...damn that was good. Where is she when I need her?

You are not alone.

I would go with red lace if you have it. You want something that really stands out.

lora96 said...

Yes. I look at the draft I'm editing now and think, "my were we having a cynical moment in life then! tone it down!"

lora96 said...

PS My fave Marc Cohn is The Things We've Handed Down.

Sarah W said...

I second (or is that seventh) all the Good God, YESes in the previous comments.

I recently found a box with my first attempt at writing a Whole Book at age 13. There was an orphaned girl with an unknown magical legacy sent to our world to hide her from the forces of eeeevil. There might also have been . . . elves.

Things are a bit different now . . .

Lindsey said...

Totally! In hindsight, my first novel was so obviously autobiographical (I think my novels aren't now. Maybe??), and when I'd get critiques on what a mess my MC was, I'd think, holy crap, that's me. I'm the mess. Yikes! It's like therapy through writing. And since I think (?) I've changed a lot since I wrote the first one, it's weird to see 24 year old me looking up from the pages.

And I'd say you can't go wrong with a pink bra!

Shakespeare said...

I have found that WRITING about something changes it for me. I joke with all my friends that writing is therapy for me. Lots of parent issues pop up, especially in my plays, but as I revise the first gut wrenching draft, and then revise again, and revise again, the work becomes both more polished AND more its own story. I have one play still that is too close, that I can't revise at this point, but I trust that someday I will have grown enough to go back to it.

And I love Marc Cohn. True Companion was played at my wedding, and we danced to John Denver's "For You," also written for someone whom he eventually broke with. I wouldn't toss a bra at him, though. Might give him a black eye.

Kimberly Sabatini said...

Very fascinating and my writing leaves a trail of who and what I am so, if you look closely, anyone can follow my progression of me on this crazy journey. <3

misanthropology101 said...

For what it's worth, I think Steve Earle has a different wife every time he comes through on a concert tour. He once introduced a song with the abbreviated description of "Same sentiment. Different wife."

Kind of lends credence to all those dead white male poems we read in English class about "my words living after marble crumbles and bronze rusts" or what not, doesn't it?

I'm not sure bronze actually rusts. Any road.

Geoffrey Cubbage said...

...and I'm still struggling with a way to use my actual name instead of a URL in Blogger's comments interface, apparently. Sorry. I don't mean to make a mess of your comments section.

Linda G. said...

I think you should go with a leopard-print bra. Or zebra. Yeah, zeBRA. That works. ;)

Karin said...

I had that experience recently when I translated my own novel into Swedish (from English). Quite often I stopped and shook my head: "What on earth has she written here, and why!?" Then I realized the "she" is me...

And don't toss a bra – toss a copy of Making Waves!

Karin said...

PS... and as a matter of fact (on the theme of detachment) I have had a poem rededicated to me once. The author tried to explain how and why that was a good idea. I didn't even listen, but today I can understand how it works, even if I still think it was a bad idea.

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jesswords10 said...

Have fun at the concert, Tawna! He sounds like a great performer. I love the quote you shared and can definitely identify. I've kept a journal since I was 13, and one year I actually only kept a poetry journal. When I pick that one up, I go back and forth between "I was so brilliant then!" and "I was so delusional then!" LOL. So it goes.

Claire Dawn said...

I just finished re-reading the first MS I wrote. It's like a time capsule.