“Young Man With a Horn” stars Kirk Douglas as Rick and Lauren Bacall as Amy. He’s a damn good trumpet player and she’s the mistake he married. Music’s no longer a business to him after he wises up and leaves her, and then ups and quits playing for a big-time band to strike out on his own. Amy does some things well, but not great. She even likes to try new things, like marriage and ruining Rick’s life. On his way out he tells her she’s filth, if you can imagine Lauren Bacall as filth.
Call me “The Mid-Lifer With a Novel”. Writing a novel is something I’ve always wanted to try, but knew I wasn’t going to be great at. Nevertheless, like Amy tells Rick, “You never know until you try.” Besides, just like Rick’s damn good trumpeting, it’s still a damn good story, an historical fiction piece, loosely based on a great woman – my mother’s aunt, who served and died as a WWI nurse in France. I’ve tried to write a story that makes sense to me, first, and everyone else, second. In other words, marketability was not a high priority during the process, as is the case for established authors.
Near the end of the movie Rick is washed up. The loss of Amy leaves him empty and disillusioned. He can’t hit that high note, the one that borders on perfection. He ends up smashing the hell out of his trumpet. I’m pretty sure my novel won’t reach the heights of Shakespeare or Tolstoy. But it’s still my voice, unique and immortalized both in print and in the virtual world. And unlike Rick the trumpeter, I won’t be destroying my novel.
My wife Tory both encouraged me to pursue this dream and helped edit my manuscript. I spent eight months writing and re-writing. Afterwards, I sent out the grand total of one query letter. That’s right. I wasn’t going to waste a lot of time begging agents and publishers to give me a break. I’m too old and lack patience. After it was promptly rejected, I decided to go with Tate Publishing. They helped with proofreading, conceptual editing, creating a cover, designing the layout, and marketing the finished product.
At the end of the movie, a singer by the name of Jo, played by Doris Day, saves Rick by pointing him in the right direction. The trumpeter and his savior. A nice combo. Sort of like my wife and me, the writer and the woman behind the writer.
If I’ve piqued your curiosity, feel free to click on the link to the right “The Spirit of Nora, A Novel”. Here endeth the hard sell.