Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bread Loaf 2010: Day 5

Until I went to college, my twin sis and I played in the pit orchestra for our town's summer musical as well as for the town next door, where my private trumpet teacher taught. We spent every night of the week rehearsing and watching the theater kids flirt with each other. The first few weeks would be a haze of happiness and hormones. New music! Out sort of late with boys (and girls, but most importantly, boys) our age, who were sometimes cute! Big dance numbers!

We would be convinced that Anything Goes/ Once Upon a Mattress/ Oliver (okay, maybe not Oliver. Do you have ANY IDEA how many measures of rest the brass section has to count out in that musical!?!?!) was the best musical ever written. Not only that, but our performance would be the most perfect ever performed.

About a month into rehearsals, we would hate everything about the musical. We would hate the cheerful female lead, whom everyone had a crush on. We would hate that horribly written Entre Act. We would hate the director. And the boys--who paid no attention to the pit girls. We never wanted to look at the sheet music again.

Then, a strange shift occurred about a month or three weeks before the performances. Not only did we stop hating the musical and everyone in it, we loved it. We loved them. And it was more than that: we had no idea how we could possibly go on living once the musical ended. It was oddly euphoric, almost manic. I could never decide if we had simply developed a deep appreciation for this massive spectacle, or if this was simply a trick our minds played, to protect our fragile psyches from the horror of playing the same songs for hours every single night of our summer.

Reader, I may be in the euphoric state of the conference. I hope I can ride it out until the end on Friday. Today I had a wonderful conversation with a couple writers, who said my novel sounded fascinating! And then I had a meeting with an agent, which wasn't entirely successful but began with him saying, "What can I do for you." Do you know how gratifying it was to hear an agent say that??? I went to dinner and sat with people! I had a craft class with a hot instructor (win!) and learned something too.

And tonight there is a DANCE. Yes, a dance. Just like at summer camp or middle school. I anticipate awkwardness and bad dancing and groups huddled together, sweating. For reasons I can't entirely explain, I'm really looking forward to this event.

Also, sometime soon--probably at the end of the conference--I'm going to go through all my notes and make a list of the most useful lessons and insights I've gained from this experience. So keep reading!

I'll see YOU on the dance floor.


  1. I wouldn't be on the dance floor (probably). I'd be standing in the corner and taking notes on the social dynamic.

    ...Unless I was there with someone. It doesn't take much to be more extraverted than me, and they'd probably drag me out to dance (and perhaps scold me for bringing a notebook with pen and pencil -and- a novel to read.) ;P

  2. I would be that person.

    On a somewhat related note: I had a woman today tell me she didn't think I was a writer because I seem too friendly and outgoing.

    Compliment? Jury's still out on that one.

  3. The person dragging me onto the dance floor? I believe it. :D

    I mean, friendly is good, outgoing is good. I would take it as a compliment with a quizzically pleasant smile on my face. (Like the time a friend of mine seemed surprised that I'd claim John Keats as my favorite poet. She figured I'd choose something more modern, I guess, but I wish she'd given me a more specific reason.)

  4. Oh my gosh. Your description of high school pit orchestra is spot on.

    Hope the dance was as awkward as you were imagining!

  5. Sabrina, yes I would do the dragging. In fact, I am proud to say I orchestrated an epic dance circle (very middle school of me. Win!) featuring all of the members of my workshop group.

    j., am I correct in assuming that you were a kindred spirit of the pits? What instrument? (So I can judge your personality by it, of course).

    Dance break down (HA) coming soon!