Sunday, 18 December 2011

The Last Bus of the Night...

Chase down your passion like it's the last bus of the night.  ~Terri Guillemets

Do you believe in signs? I do.

In what will be the craziest, off-the-wall post I've probably every made, I wanted to share an event that happened to me. A sign. A beautiful, crystal-clear signpost on the road to my writing journey. 

Why crazy? Why off the wall? Because when you read it, you'll probably snicker. Hey, go ahead. I'm laughing at myself but--on the same token--it's just too powerful for me to ignore, though I even admit to myself how zany it is.

Last week I popped in a DVD from my Blockbuster queue. La Vie en Rose, a lavish French film of the life of the legendary French singer Edith Piaf. I highly recommend this movie, by the way. It's not only stunning cinematography but superb acting, especially by the lead, Marion Cotillard. 

Mid-way through the film the viewer was introduced to Piaf's lover, the love of her life as she called him, French boxer Marcel Cerdan.

And that's when it happened. My sign. 

The moment---the second---I saw the actor I knew him. I'd never seen him before in films, but I knew him intimately from my own writing. He was a character I'd written.
I knew him SO thoroughly that I immediately recognized him, even from just a shot of his back...the masculine silhouette of a stocky man in a dress coat and dark fedora. The slope of his shoulders, the outline of his body. 

I thought how very cool! There he was, in the flesh. His body, anyway. I'd seen his type many, many times. What? Did you think I invented the noir figure with overcoat and fedora? Nah. But, even so, I always appreciate it when I see its form in films and pictures. 

Then...then...the camera zoomed in on his face. He spoke. And no longer was he just a look-a-like, a resemblance to the TYPE of man I'd written, he WAS the man I'd written.

Just as Piaf recognized him, after just one date, as the love of her life...I knew him as the love of my writing. 

The gentle twinkle in his eyes, the tilt of his head, the style and darkness of his hair, his soft yet masculine voice, his shape, his five o'clock shadow, his hands, even down to his damn wrist watch. His personality. His very soul. It was my character.

In fact, guess what? I'm going to force him on you. I was ecstatic to find a scene on Youtube featuring his first date with the singer. He's played by French actor Jean-Pierre Martins.

 That's my guy. Those movie folk used him and never even consulted me. They stole my man. 

All kidding aside, it gave me wonderful chills to walk smack-dab, right into my own creation. To see him so perfectly, vividly brought to life.

It was a sign. A sign for what? 

Oh, geez, I get so excited thinking about this, I can hardly contain myself.

The fact is, this character--my name for his is Salvatore--was the very first character I ever penned. The very first. And, yet, through the few years that I've been writing, I've never quite placed him in the setting he belonged. I've written and re-written him so many times, I finally became frustrated I put him aside.
But a while back, I mentioned I was going to start back into my hetero romances. I saw a beautiful, romantic painting by Jack Vettriano titled Back Where You Belong. It touched my heart, it was that same dark character with the sleek hair. 

 Back Where You Belong by Jack Vettriano
Salvatore had begun to call again. My beloved character wasn't happy being buried beneath hundreds of other creations. He was there first, and by gods, he was demanding attention. 

And then, SO determined to be noticed again, he showed up in La Vie En Rose

Here's the part where you will agree I'm certifiably off my damn rocker. 

When I first saw the actor's smile, when he opened his mouth to speak? I cried. Yep, I cried, tuned up the waterworks and cried. Not a sweet little dainty cry, either, but kind of sobbing. Happy tears, the kind when you find something lost. So ecstatic you want to shout but there's no one to shout to. 

Who on earth would EVER understand that sort of emotion over something so silly? Another writer, maybe. Or maybe just anybody, everybody, who has a dream and they stumble right into it by accident. 

Or is it accidental? I don't think so. I truly believe in signs, and even hold in my heart that our characters--existing ones and ones who are merely dreams yet to come--DO speak to us, they DO let us know when their time has come.

And my man spoke to me. 

I've some other things to complete, but he is next. 

And another thing? In retrospect, I'm really sort of glad I did NOT write him back in the day when I changed him daily like a baby's dirty diapers. THAT was a sign that--at that time--I wasn't ready to write him. 

But, since I did envision him so long ago, I've learned a lot. I've got a universe of knowledge still left to learn, but I feel I'm at least in a position to return to him. 

Now he's smiling as I write that I'm taking him back to his roots, back to his original storyline.  

See? Told you I was crazy. 

But I'm hoping--no, I'm betting--that I'm not the only one who's encountered beautiful visions that nudged them onto the road, the direction they should go. You know. Signs.

Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.  ~Anne Sexton


Karenna Colcroft said...

Wonderful post, Carol, and not a bit crazy. Signs like that remind us of why we write!

But to add to any weirdness factor anyone detects (and I'm not making this up, I promise!) last night as I was falling asleep, I saw an image of a rose in my mind, and then heard a voice say, "La Vie En Rose."

C. Zampa said...

Oh, Karenna, that is SO fascinating! Silly as it sounds, I wonder if somehow our minds weren't connecting. Because I know I was thinking so strongly about this all last night. Love it!

Thanks, girl. I hoped I didn't seem crazy, but then again there wouldn't be much we could to about it, would there? It's just part of this writing thing, like you said.

Z.A. Maxfield said...

You had me at bonjour!

Cassie Exline said...

Love your post and don't think you're crazy at all. I'm a firm believer in signs. And I just finished reading a story called Punish with Roses. I've got goosebumps.

C. Zampa said...

Hey, Zam!

It was through Sal that I first met you, when Lex showed him to you.
I think now he's making noises, and I'd better listen. lol...

C. Zampa said...

Cassie, are you serious??? The roses thing! Now that gives ME goosebumps, too! Love it!

Taryn Elliott said...

Nothing crazy about it. Happens to me all the time with certain actors and actresses. They move a certain way, smile, even say something and BAM.

Character is born, or a character gets rounded into the perfect one.

Take the joy and now do the work. ;)

C. Zampa said...

Hey, Taryn! I love hearing how others experience the same thing!
And I am SO hoping the character does get rounded into a perfect one. He's sure waited long enough. LOL.

LJ Garland said...

Not crazy at all! Just shows you're paying attention! LOL Yep, when you keep your eyes open, you start to see all kinds of connections everywhere. So no, lady, not crazy. As a matter of fact, I'd say you're right on target, and I'm excited to see Salvatore's story at last told! :o)

C. Zampa said...

Hello and hugs, LJ Garland!
Oh, when the eyes DO open!

I hope you're right, that I'm on target, and I can't wait to finally do his story. If I can only do him justice.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

OMG, it's him. Wow, Carol, he's even more beautiful than I imagined. He has a Deniro look about him. Piaf was one of my mother's all-time favourite singers. I grew up hearing her voice almost every day.

This has been very special indeed. I feel as if I'm meeting up with old friends.

C. Zampa said...

Oh, Joylene, your words just about made me cry again! I knew, just knew, you'd recognize him!

You were among the first to meet him, back so long ago. And you had so much influence on the road to where he'll finally end up...your help and advice.

Thank you, my friend. So much.

Anonymous said...

Girl, I am SO glad you found your man! I'm ready for that story whenever you're ready to write it. :c)

C. Zampa said...

Thanks, Sarah!
Now that I think about've seen ALL the versions of him, haven't you?
Now full circle, back where he started.
Hopefully enough time has passes from all his transitions that you'll have forgotten his many 'roles'...LOL.

Emmy Ellis said...

I won't say much because you know how I feel about signs.

It's time.


C. Zampa said...

Oh, Em, I'm so glad you saw this! Because, yes, I don know how you feel about signs. And I know you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.
Beautiful and scary.