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So True’s truths

I’m sure you’ve heard this before – but yesterday felt like a plateau in my life, a place of peace I’ve spent 67 years climbing to, an achievement, yes, to be proud of. So I’ll celebrate with you.

So True was remarkable. We’d had a big problem – one of the eight pieces for the event turned out, at Thursday’s rehearsal, to be confusing; it was my fault, choosing a new writer with a quirky style that in the end, didn’t work for reading aloud. We tried to fix the piece but could not, so with only a day to go were one reader short, when I came up with an idea – to remember and honour Gord Downie by reading a piece by a talented student of mine who’d also died far too young of a brain tumour. Only months before she died, she was writing powerful, moving pieces for class, and I’d saved the last and best one, “The Night Bus.” Another longterm student, Sam, agreed at the last minute to read it, and in a flurry of emails, we mended the hole in the program.

This time, as our MC Jason said, it felt as if we know how to do this; those who’ve read before were relaxed and comfortable on stage, and even those who were new did beautifully. There was a good mix of ages and styles, though I wish as always for more diversity – but that’s a problem of the genre and the demographic attending my classes. The place was packed – over 70 people – and the audience reaction was rapturous. One reader had a group of dog-walker friends who came to hear her read in the first half and intended to leave at the intermission, to go to dinner. Instead, she said, they stayed for the whole thing and were in tears at the end.

From those who read:

it’s just goddam inspiring — I want to keep coming, to keep writing — you all, all of you who presented today — you’ve given me hope and inspiration. This particular afternoon at SO TRUE will stay with me forever!

Thanks to all for sharing your truths so eloquently and with such passion…I left buzzing, proud to be in such company.
Ah the truths! So refreshing. Even the sad stuff – it’s real – and it makes you feel alive. We need more truths in today’s world – less hate and more love. And more Beth! Thanks for all you do, you make the world a more inspiring and interesting place to be 🙂 I’ll be submitting a piece for your next show – I am addicted.

And from my writer friend Isabel Huggan, who could only stay for the first half and whom I asked to give me a critique:
As for critique – heaps of praise on all four I heard, each sequence polished, with constant forward movement and not too much explanatory detail slowing things down… each one so different and written and spoken exactly according to the “type” of true-story-memoir it was, the voices were all so individual, as unique as the experiences. A great crowd you get there, I can imagine this scene expanding — but could you handle that? 

No. We want to keep it just as it is – 70 plus people in this warm, comfortable room. No desire to get bigger – it’s enough work as it is.

Wayson was there with me, taking money at the door; afterward, at home, I pulled spaghetti sauce from the freezer to make us dinner, grateful for his company – another time it’s hard to be single is after an achievement, when there’s no one else to witness it. Wayson is my witness. We watched “The Durrells in Corfu,” the best yet, a hilarious series, and at 9, simultaneously, a doc about conjoined twins in B.C. and “Poldark.” 

And while we watched, I received a text from my son. I’d given him and his girlfriend Amy an early Xmas present – tickets to the last matinee of “Guys and Dolls” at Stratford, morning bus tickets there and late train tickets back. He’d arranged to have dinner after the show with dear family friends who’ve known him since he was a baby. The weather was forecast to be hideous, thunderstorms all day, and I was concerned they’d have a terrible time – these 30 somethings, especially Sam an aficionado of action and horror films, wouldn’t necessarily enjoy a dated musical written in 1950. In the rain. 

Sam wrote, from the train home, “Mom, what a truly wonderful day. We had a great lunch and walked by the river. Played Pooh sticks (Amy cheated) and that was all before seeing the most wonderful musical. Tom and Anna fed us a wonderful meal and are just amazing. Love you.” 

Pooh sticks, from one of the Winnie the Pooh books. When the kids were small, whenever we went for a walk over a bridge, we played Pooh sticks, throwing sticks in one side and waiting excitedly to see whose came out first on the other.

That moment – sitting on the sofa with my beloved friend, full of my homemade spaghetti sauce made with MY OWN BASIL, GARLIC, AND TOMATOES, with the success of So True that afternoon, and my son’s happiness – it was good, my friends. 

I hesitate to write it down, because we know life – just around the corner, who knows? Up down up down up. Earlier that day, as I walked home from the Y, I stood watching the Remembrance Day parade down Jarvis Street, Canadian army men and women marching to honour those who’ve died. The world is particularly fragile right now. 

But right then, last night on the sofa, yes, I thought. Thank you.

P.S. Here’s what’s missing from this charming picture: a work ethic that has me WORKING on my next writing project instead of spending the morning going over past successes on the blog. Missing! Failure! A profound lack. 

Just in case I am feeling too proud of myself.



3 Responses to “So True’s truths”

  1. theresa says:

    Thanks for sharing this rich account, Beth. All the goodness — stories, spaghetti sauce, friendship, musicals, families — so necessary to record and be grateful for at this point in human history.

  2. Congratulations, Beth! Think of the pride in the room — in the speakers and their friends, relatives and even strangers. More than just good writing, you create pride. That's quite a gift to give.

  3. beth says:

    Thanks to you both, dear friends – more witnesses, albeit at a distance. Yes, there's so much horror in the papers that recording and being grateful, as you say, for these small uplifting moments feels important. And yes, the readers are proud. I hadn't thought of giving pride as a gift, but you're right. One, a supremely talented writer who refuses to believe how good she is – well, when people repeatedly applaud and pound her on the back, she may have to come to accept her own worth.

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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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