Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil


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How To Not Care About What Others Think

MC as Bruce FH

Trust your instincts, Kid.  You don’t need to twist yourself in knots trying to impress people who are not worthy of you. Got it?”

~ Bruce Bechdel,  Fun Home The Musical

I’ve just had a little shade thrown my way today from someone I see everyday yet don’t have much interaction with.

The fact I’m writing about this would imply that I’m bothered by it. Of course it irks me. But it’s not my problem.

Yet, I find this weirdness prompts a really good opportunity for a writer’s pep talk.

(See how strange energy inspires some good?)

I don’t twist myself into knots to please. I pay respect to those around me and do my best despite how people perceive it. Their perception is their choice, not mine.

When you’re writing and feeling stuck, these thoughts tend to pervade our minds and halt the creative flow.

What will my family think if I write this?

Do these passages read well?

Who will give a damn about what I have to say?

Who will throw me shade by not buying my work or acknowledging it some way – not because I want self gratification or praise – but because I want to know I’m reaching people?

If you want to keep writing – don’t care what others are going to think.

Don’t twist yourself into knots giving a damn how your work is being perceived.

It doesn’t matter if your writing is going to disturb someone in the marketplace. Think of the iconoclasts who paved the way for incredible creation: David Bowie, The Beatles, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, The Ramones, Martin Luther King, Jr, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs or Nina Simone.

They rattled walls. They pissed off people who didn’t matter. They inspired and fortified the ones who do.

For me, this person doesn’t matter, despite the momentary bother I feel. One day soon, I will move on to another experience, another opportunity, and she will only matter in the lesson I obtain from her.

She will have taught me not care when I have so much more going for me. My world doesn’t align with hers. That doesn’t make me less than her.

You aren’t tied down to anything or anyone who isn’t a loved one.

People like this teach you to keep creating your life. And if you’re a writer, they teach you to write without judging your work, without letting weird vibes and self doubt deter you from what really matters to you – your goal, whatever that may be.

Keep writing despite the negativity you think you feel. It’s not your business to listen. It’s your business to go with your gut instinct. It’s your duty to bring something exceptionally and amazingly cool into the world.

Don’t be in the shade of someone that doesn’t give you power. Let them deal with their lives, and allow yourself to flourish in yours. Listen to Lisa Kron’s words through the voice of Bruce Bechdel in ‘Fun Home’. Be true to yourself – not others.

If you know the story of Bruce, you’ll know he sadly didn’t take his own advice.  He did not live in his authenticity and suffered greatly with the notion of how people would think of him if he lived in his truth. (Although, to be fair, he may not have understood what that truth was.)  His suffering and hiding became his undoing. He died never knowing how to be himself. His story is also a lesson to us all.

Don’t try to impress people who are not worthy of you.

Be a Bowie. Break down a wall.


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Dads

dad&meinDisney

Me and my dad, at Disney World 1974.

Today marks the fifth anniversary of my father’s death.   In 2010, June 20th landed on Father’s Day.  Yes, he died on Fathers Day. Don’t mean to bum anyone out – but that’s how it ended for him and for me. A father and daughter in this world. I became fatherless on Fathers Day.

I’ve lately been obsessed with the Broadway musical ‘Fun Home’.  Like Alison Bechdel, author/artist of her auto-biographical graphic novel of the same name in which this musical is based, I was a child of the 70’s. I lived in a home where everyone was isolated in their own worlds. Although her story is quite different from my own, universal themes abound and have struck such a chord, I can’t stop listening to the gorgeous cast recording without tearing up and thinking of my dad on this strange weekend.

Alison’s father was a closeted homosexual who killed himself shortly after his daughter came out as a lesbian. There is so much more to describe, with fascinating and heart wrenching complications so devastating, it leaves burn marks, hitting ‘the feels’ no matter what your own family narrative is. So, I’ll leave it to you to Google and explore, to sample the music of this wonderful work. I just want to hear the songs in my head, remember the days of my dad when I knew him.

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Michael Cerveris and Sydney Lucas in the Broadway musical “Fun Home”.

My father was a faithful husband, but he adored the ladies, and charmed them all – except my mother – who held him at arm’s length. Like the Bechdel’s, my parents had a complicated relationship albeit caused by different circumstances. Arguments filled the house, filling me with dread. I drowned it out with music.

Unlike Alison – whose father rarely touched her with affection unless she forced him to engage in a game of airplane –  my dad gave me bear hugs and held me when I cried over boys I loved who wouldn’t love me back. He gave me piano lessons, a love of performance and music. He took me to wonderful restaurants and baseball games at Shea Stadium. Drove me from Manhattan every Friday to our family house in Rockland County — every week just so I could at the old homestead – a sanctuary away from the NYC bustle.

Dad lived a full life. He spent a childhood orphaned by war and running from Hitler. He came to the US to live with his German aunt and uncle, learned English, finished high school, aced his SAT’s and supported himself (with the help of scholarships and jobs) through NYU’s business school. He was an US Army veteran, a Brooklyn Dodgers fan turned Mets fan, a guitarist, and an upright bass player. My dad was a brilliant sculptor – re-creating scenes from Don Quixote in clay, and carving lifelike busts of presidents and rabbis. Yes…rabbis. And he did that while he was a corporate man at IBM. In retirement he wrote poems, plays and novels. He died at the age of 83 five years ago on this fateful weekend  from the after effects of a stroke.

As different as our circumstances, Bechdel’s story goes beyond sexual discovery. It’s about a father and daughter who loved each other despite expectations, despite the issues. Dad’s will play airplane and give piggy back rides. They will also scare you and love you at the same time. We hold questions we forget to ask, and they take the answers with them when they go.

I am consoled by the fact my dad and I never left anything unsaid. We said we loved each other everyday. My dad didn’t have secrets like Alison’s father did; however, I often wondered what he was thinking – how he sacrificed an artistic life for a corporate one so I’d never have the difficult childhood he did.

He was a formidable presence in my life, who soared above me yet always allowed me to rise above when it was time.