Practicing in Public

September 28, 2018

Wow! I didn’t realize that it had been over a week since I had posted my prompt page. I have been writing my morning journal, but not finding enough time to work on a prompt since we have been in Northern Illinois visiting family and friends and getting ready for youngest son’s wedding. One of the things I’m learning how to do right now is to be true to a writing schedule while we are camping and exploring the world.

Keywords: zonevertigosyncopationregressionpublication

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“Local Musician Makes It Big!” The bold letters of the headline caught Belle’s attention as she entered The Rusty Nail. Picking up The Main Street Rag, a cheesy publication for musicians, she scanned the article for a name and for what “big” actually meant.

“Morning, Belle,” the bartender called. “Ready for a drink?”

She checked her watch and wandered toward the bar. “Screwdriver, Mack.”

“The breakfast drink of champions. Who’s the lucky one?” Mack nodded toward the paper.

“Vic. But ‘making it big’ only means he’s playing in Chicago.”

Mack set the drink on a paper coaster and leaned on the bar. “You sound jealous.”

“Making it big should be that he’s been picked up to open for some big act, landed an appearance on a stage in L.A. or New York or Nashville, or got an agent who is working to promote him and his music.”

Belle opened The Rag to the center spread. Two full pages of wanted ads stared at her. “Wanted: Bartenders. Wanted: Waitresses. Wanted: Dancers. Wanted: Bouncers. Here it is. Wanted: Musicians.”

“Belle, did the doctor release you to go back to work?”

“Well, he hasn’t told me I can’t. I’ve been clear of ear infections for 6 weeks now. Why shouldn’t I get back on stage?”

“Because I don’t want to pick up the equipment after that vertigo makes you so dizzy you grab at things to steady you and you miss. Because I don’t want to pick you up either.”

“Who says I want to be back on this stage? There are plenty of bars I could play at.”

She sipped her drink and returned her eyes to the want ads. She pulled out a pen and circled a couple of ads. “Hey, Mack, can I have another?” She turned the page. She circled three more before she pulled out her phone. “Hi, is Rita available? Hi, Rita, my name is Belle. I’m looking at your ad in The Rag. Three this afternoon? Sure.” Belle hit end call and wrote 3:00 September 28 in the margin by the ad. She dialed the next number up. “I’m looking to speak with Stan. Yes, I play guitar and sing. One tomorrow afternoon. Got it.”

Mack placed the drink in front of her. “Babe, you know I’ll miss you if you sing somewhere else.” She dialed the third, fourth, and fifth numbers.

“Mack, could I have one more. I need to celebrate this. Five bars looking for acts and five auditions. One is even the stage that Vic vacated.”

“I guess you didn’t hear me.” He handed her the drink. “I’ll miss you if you sing somewhere else.”

She took a drink and settled into the syncopation of the song on the juke box. She slipped into the musician’s zone and began to sing with the song as she swayed. When the music stopped, she returned. “You’d miss me? I doubt that.”

Thomas slid his arm around Belle’s waist and kissed her cheek. “Hi, Belle.” He sat on the stool next to her. “How soon can I book you to play again?”

She lifted his hand off her knee. “Maybe never.”

“She’s got some auditions this week. Even the bar Vic played at.”

“Belle, Sweetheart, you know you draw the crowds. You know people come here to hear you play, right?”

Belle turned to Thomas and then looked at Mack. They were talking, but she wasn’t responding. “You know, gentlemen, I think if I took you up on your offer that my talent would suffer a terrible regression. In fact, listening to the two of you, I wonder if you have been railroading my career all this time.” She shoved the paper and her phone into her purse and stood up. “I have several auditions to prepare for. See you around.”

As she walked out the door, Thomas and Mack stared. “We may have just lost the best thing that ever happened to this bar.”

(665 words)

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With the beginning of September 2018, I re-committed to writing my “prompt pages” every day. I’m shooting to write a minimum of 500 words on a prompt.



Maybe using the first 10 minutes of the class period with my high school creative writing students has stuck with me. I find that if I don’t start with these, I feel lost, but when I do, everything else to my writing day seems to flow. My “prompt pages” are written and posted without any editing. It is simply “showing up, butt in the chair, fingers on the keyboard writing.

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