inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #76 of 219: Moist Howlette (kkg) Tue 27 Aug 02 08:30
    
All these categories of music, "honky-tonk" (whatever we all ultimately 
decide that means), rockabilly, zydeco, blues, gospel, even Big Lou's 
special brand of polka, can fit neatly into the "roots" category--along 
with the bluegrass that T-Bone Burnett produced for "Oh Brother" that 
David Gault mentioned a while back.  
The music scene in the Bay Area is small enough that both fans 
and band members experience a lot of overlap under the "roots" umbrella.

So what is "roots" music? Or, what ISN'T?

Big Lou and Billy Wilson are two of my favorite colorful Bay Area 
characters. She is a kind of twisted version of a glamour-puss, with her 
huge petticoats, rhinestone-studded glasses, and a repertoire that 
includes 
a polka version of "They Call The Wind Mariah."  I met Billy before he 
started playing accordion, when he was subbing on bass in a band I played 
with called the Sweethearts of the Bancroft Lounge. He taught me a couple 
of simple bass lines on cajun songs so that he could practice playng his 
brand-new accordion at gigs. Billy is nearly seven feet tall, and one of 
the few people I've ever met who is as much of a gig-slut as I am.

At the time, I was playing in a couple of different bands, and whenever 
Billy showed up for a gig, it automatically became a party rather than 
work. I wrote "Billy's Accordion" about Billy Wilson, obviously.  

And Big Lou's wedding--did you notice the cake? I actually made those 
little doll-versions of Big Lou and David. We had to push David into the 
cake so he would be a head shorter than the bride, as in real life.
But (pk) is right that he created the little pedal steel-actually for my 
wedding, 20 years ago. 

See, that's the cool thing about writing fiction. You can take all this 
stuff that really happened, or sort of really happened, and mix it up and 
make it turn out the way you want it to. We all do this when we tell 
favorite old stories, the kind that get more dramatic and interesting as 
time goes by, but it is so much fun to have official permission, even get 
paid a little bit, to exaggerate and change details and make up stuff.
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #77 of 219: Gail Williams (gail) Tue 27 Aug 02 10:21
    
Hooray for that.
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #78 of 219: "Booger! Booger! Give back the rings!" (tnf) Tue 27 Aug 02 10:51
    

Thanks for the pseud, Elizabeth!


Off-WELL readers are invited to send questions or comments to inkwell-
hosts@well.com
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #79 of 219: David Gans (tnf) Tue 27 Aug 02 10:54
    

And Kathi, I have to tell you that I am taking great inspiration from your
book.  I've got a few stories and characters in my head, after 30 years of
gigs and tours, and one o' these days Im gonna hatch a few plots of my own.
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #80 of 219: Moist Howlette (kkg) Tue 27 Aug 02 11:16
    
Hey, maybe some of your characters can sit in with some of my characters 
and jam...
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #81 of 219: Gail Williams (gail) Tue 27 Aug 02 11:54
    
OOoh.
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #82 of 219: Berliner (captward) Tue 27 Aug 02 11:58
    
Hmmm, no wonder it's called Don't Quit Your Day-Job Records... 
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #83 of 219: David Gans (tnf) Tue 27 Aug 02 12:05
    
Hey!
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #84 of 219: Elizabeth Churchill (leroy) Tue 27 Aug 02 13:04
    

What I like is the way it's hard to tell what you made up out of thin air
and what's based on real experiences. I mean, if Big Lou's wedding isn't
stranger than fiction, I don't know what is. What about the Bhalahdis? Did
you make them up or have you actually had some, uh, spiritual experiences
upon which they're based?
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #85 of 219: Moist Howlette (kkg) Tue 27 Aug 02 15:49
    
The Bhalahdis were an interesting case, actually. I made them up--a 
spiritual community in which the theology centers around the belief that 
life after death is dictated by the last song you heard before you died.  
I was up in Lakeport, and had started working on the part where Sarah Jean 
goes up there for the first time, when my friend Diana invited me on a 
drive up into the hills to check out a Buddhist temple where they offered 
meditation classes. We never found the Buddhists, but we did stumble into 
a cult run by a guy who calls himself the Avatar Adi Da. We were given 
copies of his biography, a 400-pager that I read a bit of. To my 
astonishment, I had just written the part where Sarah Jean learns that 
Harvey once appeared on the Ed Sullivan show as a child tap-dancer. It 
turns out that the Avatar Adi Da appeared on the Ed Sullivan show as a 
child ventriloquist! 

I've heard other people talk about this kind of coincidence with fiction 
writing...you think you're making something up, and then the real thing 
comes along and blows you out of the water. My cult seems sweeter to me, 
but I haven't spent more than a few minutes with the Adi Das.  We had the 
strong sense of being intruders, and got out of there pretty darn fast.
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #86 of 219: Daniel (dfowlkes) Tue 27 Aug 02 17:02
    <scribbled by dfowlkes>
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #87 of 219: David Gans (tnf) Tue 27 Aug 02 17:22
    
Truly.
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #88 of 219: Elizabeth Churchill (leroy) Tue 27 Aug 02 19:16
    
Ha! And I love that the Bhalahdis support their ashram or whatever it
is by repairing washing machines (later they branch out into tech
support). We have a psychic healer here in Opelousas who looks like ZZ
Top and calls himself The Anointed Cherub, who owns a little vacuum
cleaner repair shop downtown. I took my Hoover in once, and as I was
lugging it through the door, he closed his eyes, placed his palms on
his temple, kind of swayed back and forth, and announced, "Jesus is
telling me...it's the belt." Well, of course it's the belt. Duh.

But I really admire your confidence in just making things up, and then
pulling it off so seamlessly. I would never have the nerve to just
wing it, I would feel like I was obligated to don a purple robe and go
chant with the Avitar for several years or else I'd never manage to
sound convincing. 

Kathi, how on earth do you find *time* to do all this: write a novel,
front a band, work a day job, raise a genius, go on tour, etc. etc.,
not to mention check in on the Well? Do you ever feel overloaded, or
are you the kind of person who thrives on juggling all these challenges
and endeavors? I tend to get overwhelmed just trying to breathe and
chew gum at the same time, and have to go lock myself in a dark room
for three days. How do you manage to excel at it all and stay sane?
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #89 of 219: Well, of course it's the belt. Duh. (tnf) Tue 27 Aug 02 22:17
    
Another great pseud -- thanks!
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #90 of 219: Moist Howlette (kkg) Wed 28 Aug 02 07:17
    
You Pseud-hog, you!

>>how on earth do you find *time* to do all this?<<

Finding time for the book was hard--I had to steal time. That's why the 
"binge-writer" concept worked so well for me, going away and locking 
myself up somewhere for a few days at a time.  And my family suffered as a 
result, in some ways. Also, since I didn't have a publisher waiting for a 
finished product (in fact, very few people even knew I was working on this 
until it was nearly done) there were no deadlines, and I could take as 
much time as I needed--which turned out to be a whopping five years from 
start till now. I didn't start the job I have now, doing marketing and 
publicity at Harper San Francisco, until the book was almost finished. I 
never could have found the energy otherwise. I am a little bit of a 
workaholic, I guess--actually that's not quite true. I'm obsessive about 
the work I care about, and I hate to miss anything, so I end up 
overbooking myself and getting periodically fried. Since I use more than 
my alotted corporate vacation time to take Tony (my son, a 19-year-old 
comedy music or "Dementia" artist) on trips to do his shows, it's been a 
long time since I've had a real vacation. If I had one at this point, I'm 
not sure what I would do with myself. I could lie on a beach and nap for 
oh, maybe 45 minutes. And then what? Huh? Huh? I'm not saying this is the 
ideal way to be, it's just how life is right now.

 As for your vacuum cleaner repair guy, see? Isn't 
he better than fiction? I think with research, that's one of the values of 
being a bit, ahem, older than your normal first novelist. One has seen and 
done a lot that can be used as material. And maybe it's less about 
courage than being too dumb to know what can go wrong, you know?

Friends have told me that writing a first novel, and especially the period 
between acceptance and publication, is a magic time. You get all the 
excitement of the moment, everyone is pulling for you, you haven't 
disappointed anyone yet with your reviews or sales track, and even the 
jealousy of friends is tempered by this crap-shoot element and the odds 
against actual success. However small, you get some kind of a check and 
have a little extra money in your pocket-actually getting paid for making 
shit up! I heard from a bookseller friend that they 
finally got the book in her store, by the way, so this little pink cloud 
time is about to end. It's real, now. Yikes!
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #91 of 219: Vegas Vixen (cynthiar) Wed 28 Aug 02 07:30
    
Well, lil podneh -- you need to get your tiny ask-me down to Vegas for
a weekend of r n r by the Love Pool. That goes for you, too, Ganzita.
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #92 of 219: Moist Howlette (kkg) Wed 28 Aug 02 08:18
    
I'm there! After getting Tony settled at college, going on book tour, and 
catching up at work.  How many songs can we write in one weekend?

Oh hey--I just checked amazon.com. "Shoes" is now in stock and available, 
finally.
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #93 of 219: David Gans (tnf) Wed 28 Aug 02 10:15
    
Kathi and I can come to Vegas at the same time to do some songwritin'!
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #94 of 219: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 28 Aug 02 12:21
    
Now there's a junket!
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #95 of 219: Vegas Vixen (cynthiar) Wed 28 Aug 02 18:24
    
Well, ganzeeta, you, kath, reet are welcome here any time. . . I may
even go out and buy a new guitar. . . 
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #96 of 219: Moist Howlette (kkg) Wed 28 Aug 02 23:27
    
Sounds great! 
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #97 of 219: Elizabeth Churchill (leroy) Thu 29 Aug 02 06:53
    
Kathi, all in all, would you say that writing and publishing this
first novel has a been a good experience for you? Were there any major
disappointments or frustrations along the way, any times you felt like
giving up or like it just wasn't going to turn out the way you wanted?
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #98 of 219: Moist Howlette (kkg) Thu 29 Aug 02 10:48
    
I like the novel now, and I'm thrilled that other people seem to like it, 
but I still would have welcomed a shot at one more rewrite. I think we 
decide that books are finished when we run out of time to work on them. 
The biggest difficulties had to do with my own lack of confidence, 
though...the compulsion to ask myself why anyone would care what I have to 
say, sort of like biting on a toothache.

The publishing process has been absolutely dreamy. I love my  agent 
(who refuses to tell me how many rejections we got) and my editor. I 
know enough about the publishing process to know that I'm getting unusual 
attention and support for a first novelist. So no complaints there--just 
the opposite. I feel very, very lucky.
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #99 of 219: Vegas Vixen (cynthiar) Thu 29 Aug 02 11:01
    
Trust me, Kath, you ARE v. v. lucky. 

And, lemme tell you, after 30 years of writing for deadline where you
do not get to hand in perfect copy: no writer is EVER finished with
their work. Writers are the most self-critical bunch of folks I've ever
met. Join the club. 

Sometimes, you have to let it go. Some of our best ideals end up on
the floor, snipped out for space by an editor who thinks they "know."
You just gotta get over and not own all of it. Having yourself edited
where what you thought was brilliant ended up in the round file, is
often like killing your children. . . if you are emotionally married to
it (sorry for the mixed metahors here) but sooner or later, you'll be
able to reuse the excized material, or, with your fertile imagination,
go on to something better. 
  
inkwell.vue.157 : Kathi Kamen Goldmark: "And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
permalink #100 of 219: Moist Howlette (kkg) Thu 29 Aug 02 11:47
    
I LOVED being edited!  I gave up a few "darlings" in the process, but I 
fought for a few too, in funny negotiations with Jay, my editor: "I don't 
get the joke," he'd say, "I think you should cut this sentence." "OK Jay, 
tell you what--go out in the hall and read the sentence to the first five 
people you see. If no one laughs, I'll cut." And, man of honor that he is, 
he would call back to say, "OK, they laughed. It stays."

I had an eye-opening experience attending the funeral of my friend Faith 
Sale, who was a famous literary fiction editor. At her memorial, Amy Tan, 
Kaye Gibbons, and Kurt Vonnegut (all her authors) got up to speak, each 
one revealing how terrifying it was to get up in front of people and read 
something she hadn't edited. I guess you never get over it.
  

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