Dance of the ∞ veils Part One

Stephen Sondheim said he’d have trouble if you asked him to write a love song, but no trouble at all if you asked him to write a love song about (here I’m inventing the details) a woman in a green hat sitting alone on a bar stool in a dive on 54rd Street at 5:45 p.m. on a Thursday and repeatedly glancing at her cellphone.
I’m horrified when my writer clients tell me the hoops they have to go through to pitch an idea to the New York markets, the tiers of editors who have to approve it, the way writers are forced to shape a pitch to match editors’ attempt to depict a reality they’re inventing. “A second-rate boxer,” a London Sunday Times editor would tell me on the phone. I’d call a boxing magazine to get a suggestion, call the man to ask him if he’d cooperate and the date of his next fight, then call the editor back to assign a photographer. (Actually that was one of the rare stories that had to be rewritten. “It’s reported,” the editor told me on the phone. “It needs to be written.” That’s all.) Usually the story went into the magazine or paper with not a comma changed, not a fact checked as far as I knew. Oh, a subeditor once called me for an extra line to fit the space.
So once upon a time I was spoiled as a journalist just as I’d once been spoiled as a fiction writer. Since I wasn’t used to generating ideas I stopped writing when I moved to the U.S. and the requests for my writing dried up. (I did other things: eleven years in under- and grad schools, years of writing psych research papers in that awful clunky pseudoscientific jargon psychologists use—nearly as bad as the impenetrable stuff English Lit majors at Berkeley turn out these days. Enough to stop anyone writing decently.)
I’d written nothing for years apart from a few radio perspectives and an unsold piece about trying to learn Russian, until Jay Jenkins called and told me he wanted to republish Waiting for the Sky to Fall, which of course required a new intro from its not-yet-extinct author. (He added republishing Aubade seemingly as an afterthought.) He suggested a website, a website needed a blog, which needed content in case anyone ever wanted to read it. I’d thought of blogging before, maybe calling it The Psycho Therapist, but blocked on the issue of confidentiality. What my clients tell me stays told only to me. I don’t like the idea of using even disguised clients to illustrate therapy issues. I don’t even like the idea of discussing therapy issues. I’m too involved in the day-to-day details, working in the trenches. (Which is one of the reasons I have GRUNT tattooed on my left calf.)
And I was trained not to talk about myself. MORE TO COME

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