My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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onward and upward

Since this morning’s post, ten thousand more have joined the movement – how amazing is that? Membership is now at 68,372. It makes me feel warm just to think about it. And feeling warm, right now, is a very good thing.

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This is a story about how the right friend at the right time can save your sanity. I was sitting at my desk two mornings ago going nuts, papers piled high, struggling with reams of material. I used to compare writing my Jewish Shakespeare book to wrestling with an octopus, and the memoir was starting to feel the same way, always one snaky tentacle or two around my neck. How to make this work? I’m dealing with two interconnected but separate stories, one all the tales of childhood up to 1964, and then, just as I hit adolescence, the story of the Beatles arriving in my young life, how they transformed everything, how my love for Paul was the sustaining fantasy for many years.
But these two strands, no matter how hard I tried to weave them together, were not working. As I told you a while ago, I showed Wayson some of the Beatles material, and he dismissed it in seconds. A light, humourous take on teenaged angst and fantasy romance in the Sixties is not what he wanted to read. But it’s one of the things I wanted to write.
I thought, I need help, and though it was only 9 a.m. her time, I called Patsy in B.C. She’s one of my dearest friends; we’ve known each other since 1970, when she was already a professional actress and I an aspiring one. Through the years, we both moved from the stage into writing, teaching and editing, though I did so in downtown Toronto and she on a remote Gulf Island. Patsy is a superb teacher and script editor (and writer and poet too.)
After listening to my sad tale of confusion and despair, she said, “Beth, you say you’re dealing with two separate stories. So why don’t you tell them as two separate stories?”
I am embarrassed to say that this most obvious of solutions had never occurred to me. I’d spent endless hours trying to jam together two things that do not fit. Separate them, said Patsy. You have a fine journalistic voice, the relaxed, chatty voice you use in the blog that details the ephemera of daily life. That’s the voice for the Beatles’ saga. The childhood memoir voice is deeper and darker, different altogether.
The skies cleared and the birds sang and from one moment to the next, I saw what I had to do. Praise be.
This is a story of how we make life so much more difficult and complicated for ourselves than it needs to be. However, if we’re lucky as we flounder and sink, a dear friend is out there with a life preserver.
Later that day, I spoke to Lynn in France. “I’ve been thinking,” she said. “Your voice in the blog really works. Perhaps that’s the way you should tell your stories.”
“Funny you should say that just at this moment,” I said.
Once more to quote my beloved Wayson: Onward!
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Just checked again – in the half-hour hour it took to write this, almost 1500 Canadians have joined the fight. Membership now at 69,848. I love them all.

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2 Responses to “onward and upward”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I was delighted to discover, upon signing up for this group, that it showed "Recent Members" on the left, and I saw some friends there already.

    And the rant by Rick Miller? Says it all!

    – C. D.

  2. beth says:

    C.D. – welcome to the new, easy-to-use comments page. Yes, I think the members of the anti-proroguing group would be fun at a dinner party. Someone should set that up.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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