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Notes from My Writing Journal: Walking with Elise

Chapter 7, baby!!

Okay, what happens next? We need Karina and Richard in the same room again. Actually, I probably need a chapter about her and her life—home, teaching, with Grace. What is unsettled in her and why is seeing Richard again such a necessary risk? What does she want?

I need to work more on her backstory, make her three dimensional, more believable. How does she spend her days? Who is her best friend? A neighbor? What would this person lend to Karina and the narrative—would she push Karina toward a career in jazz? A new relationship, moving on past Richard? Would she be a voice/opinion about Richard? Comedic relief?

The neighbor teaches at Berkeley School of Music and has no classes on Fridays. She and Karina always meet for a coffee or a walk. She’s always treated Karina as a colleague, like a real musician, a status of equality Karina doesn’t feel she deserves.

She and Richard moved to Boston, and then she was pregnant and on bedrest with pre-eclampsia, and Grace was five weeks premature. Richard was always traveling or practicing. She didn’t know anyone in Boston—she had no family to help her with Grace. She had no time for piano, for finding a footing in her career. She blames Richard, Grace, her religion, Boston. But in truth, she was afraid.

Richard’s career rocketed into the stratosphere so fast, a dot in the sky. She felt that no matter what she did, she’d never reach that height. She could see no possibility of success for herself as a jazz pianist that could match his, so she never even tried.

That her own career had to be in comparison to his is ridiculous. The shadow he cast left her in perpetual shade, cold. His huge success made her feel small.

Making a career in music is next to impossible. It’s a fringe undertaking—most people end up playing weddings, bar mitzvahs, in schools, private lessons. But what Richard achieved—it’s the holy grail, winning the lottery, like saying you’ve been to the moon. He’s in an elite crowd. His success intimidated her. Every opportunity felt too miniscule, too unimpressive, too rinky-dink to bother. She convinced herself that her time was better spent raising Grace, supporting Richard, being the good wife.

Okay, so write a chapter with Karina walking with her neighbor, Elise, around the reservoir.

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