This morning she was wearing a battered Levi Denim shirt–with silver buttons–just like the one in the Mary Chapin Carpenter song, This Shirt. Her blonde hair fell on the turned up collar, her wrists protruding from the rolled up sleeves were unadorned, and on her hands she wore one small ring. She was looking at produce in the greens sections, seemingly trying to decide if the Kale was too wilted for her taste. He tried not to stare, and failed, after all he had just seen her the night before.
She must have felt his eyes on her because she looked up, and smiled. He smiled back then went about his business while wondering if she was who he thought she was.
The incident above is true, but it would not make much of a story. I mean men look at pretty women all the time and nothing comes of it–unless you are a writer and you can make what you want of it just as I did as soon as I got home from the market.
Mistakenly, I thought the lady in the market was the same one I had seen just the night before playing the cello in a local orchestra. There were at least 50 other musicians on that same stage and though she was partially hidden by a violinist, there was no way you could not see the enthusiasm she put into her playing. It was as if there were no other players, no conductor, not even an audience. We were all irrelevant to the passion she put into each bow stroke. She wore a simple black dress and one string of pearls; her attire showed that it was the music that mattered, not what she wore or how she looked. I have always admired performers like this whether they were in Carnegie Hall or playing on the street corner for spare change.
This brief marketplace encounter turned into my story, The Right Note, which not only produced my biggest royalty check to date but was also published in one of the biggest literature markets in the world, New York City.
In the story, the lady is who the man thinks she is and he approaches her. The first line in the story is this: “You play the Cello, don’t you?” and of course she does. What plays out is a tender tale of two mature people from very different backgrounds finding love at a time when they least expect it. When I finished the story, though formulaic, I liked it a lot and so did everyone else who I let read it so I thought I would take a shot so I sent it to New Love Stories Magazine. They bought it–on the condition that I make it longer! That was a request I had not heard before. Since I wanted to be in this NYC magazine, I looked at my story in an effort to add more words. In this case it was surprisingly easy.
The original story had only two parts; the first section is where the two lovers meet in the market and the second section detailed how the man showed up at one of her concerts. This lead to a budding romance. So how do I add to that? I had the beginning, I had the ending, people liked it, I liked it. How do I make the editor like it?
I finally decided to add a third section in the middle of the story. The female protagonist is fascinated by the good looking man who complimented her on her playing and since he gave her his name told her that he was a writer, and that he lived locally, she decided to try to find out more about him. Taking to the Internet she discovers that he is much more than he seemed and after discovering this, she wanted to see him again more than ever.
This obviously was the solution the editor was looking for because he sent me a sizable check for the story. Sadly, New Love Stories Magazine is now defunct but with its death, all the rights to the story have reverted back to me and you can read it in my collection, Angel and the Bear.
While doing so, you can listen to this song:
This Shirt – Mary Chapin Carpenter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbL1LptZ8Vc