If you’re thinking about writing a book on something that fascinates you, and if you’re hesitating, have I got a story for you!
As I’ve said before, I had a fabulous time researching Rose Thompson Hovick, the real woman portrayed – though 75% fictitiously – in the Broadway musical GYPSY.
What I may not have previously mentioned was the amount of seemingly endless hard work that had to be put into it, first the two and a half years of research, then, when that was done, the Friday nights through the early hours of Monday mornings that I’d spend writing, sometimes on days so beautiful it wasn’t easy to stay inside the house. I always let myself out for breakfast and dinner breaks along with a few short walks around my neighborhood during those “writing marathon” weekends. “Eyes on the prize,” I’d tell myself. I’d also sing the little Randy Newman song, “Almost There,” and get right back to work. I had wanted to uncover the real story of Rose, from the time I first heard that GYPSY, while a spectacular show and a favorite, wasn’t an entirely accurate depiction of Gypsy Rose Lee’s family, and never once thought of not completing the project. The show is great, yet the true story of Rose needed to get out there, too.
I had also loved the score of the show, by Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim, from the first time I heard it at the age of twelve. I was growing up in a particularly stultifying suburb. “Some People,” a character song sung by Rose about how much disdain she had for the life of those who never get anywhere and the fact that, “Some people can thrive and bloom, living life in the living room,” became my anthem, especially when I heard the hysterical lyrics at the end:
“Some people sit on their butts,
Got the dream, yeah! But not the guts…”
A few weeks ago, when I heard that there was a new CD recording of GYPSY by the 2015 London cast, I wanted very much to hear it and ordered it from Amazon UK. Imelda Staunton is starring in England as Rose. The initial UK Chichester production had contacted me for information and photos with regard to their souvenir programme, which they’d later sent me. It had since moved to the London West End stage, and I was very excited about the new CD.
It arrived about a week ago. I didn’t really get the chance to listen to all of it (except “Some People”), or download it onto the iPod, until last night. I went home from work, put on the CD, and took a look at the liner notes, wanting to see the cast pictures. Those notes contained some very familiar content, and then I got a big surprise at the end. The author of the notes “gratefully acknowledges Carolyn Quinn’s book MAMA ROSE’S TURN as an important source for this essay.”
How often does anybody order a CD they simply can’t wait to hear – and then find themselves to be one of the sources of the back story described within it?
The moral of the story is this. If there’s a book inside you that you want to write, by all means go for it! Don’t just have the dream – have the guts! This happened to me, and this latest development came when I wasn’t even expecting it. I’ve also had several book signings, appeared on PBS television, and hear from people from all over the world who are just as interested in Rose as I always was. If it happened to me, guess what? It can happen to you, too! Keep at it, and like Admiral Farragut said, “Don’t give up the ship!”
If you’re going to London, check out the show. Speaking of ships, where’s the Queen Mary? I’m thinking of possibly going to London to see GYPSY myself. Bravo to the London cast! Here’s the trailer: