Guest Post: Commitment to the Creative Life True mastery requires 10,000 hours of consistent effort by Dennis Palumbo
As a psychotherapist, one of the themes that often emerges in my work with patients is commitment. In dealing with relationship issues, for example, the depth of a commitment is tested by fears about the future, questions about trust and fidelity, and concerns about the tension between dependence and independence.
Likewise, patients with children struggle daily with the commitment to the rigors of parenthood: the emotional and financial responsibilties, the sharp changes in life-style, the balancing of one's needs with those of one's child.
For my creative patients, this same level of commitment is required. I believe the relationship a writer, director or actor has with his or her work is analogous to that of any committed relationship, with the same joys and frustrations, pleasures and demands. And, like all relationships, a commitment to one's creative endeavors needs to be nurtured, tended.
What does a commitment to your creative self entail? The same things as a commitment to a mate, a partner, or a child. The following come to mind:
Constancy. You've got to be in it for the long haul. You're not going anywhere. If you're a screenwriter, you'll be at the keyboard tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. If you're an actor, you'll be auditioning, taking classes, constantly building your of craft. This same level of commitment is necessary for directors, composers, designers. As Malcolm Gladwell reported in his recent book Outliers, true mastery requires 10,000 hours of consistent effort.
Resilience. Things aren't always going to go well. There'll be good days and bad ones, great creative experiences and awful ones. The test of any committed relationship is your willingness to accept (and endure) the up's and down's, the disappointments as well as the triumphs. A commitment to the creative life has the same requirement.
Fluidity. "The best laid plans," etc., etc. If something isn't working, you try something else. A long-term commitment to anything requires the ability to learn from mistakes, and to give up cherished notions about the way things "should" be. So too a creative person committed to
his or her craft is both its student and master, learning from wrong turns and stale ideas, trying new approaches; coaxing the work along, yet at the same time following where it leads. This keeps the endeavor fresh, alive, even dangerous sometimes. Which, for someone pursuing a career in Hollywood, is both exciting and nerve-wracking. (The parallels to marriage and parenting are self-explanatory!)
Openness to surprise. A corrolary to fluidity, this aspect of commitment challenges us to be open to surprises: if you're a writer, a sudden twist to a script you've been working on; if you're an actor, an unexpected nuance to a character you thought you "knew." As one of my film director patients described it, it's "Doing all the prep and then waiting for the surprises." (Or, in famed cellist Pablo Casals' words, "Learn the notes and forget about ‘em.") For the real artist, this involves a willingness to welcome a dark, dangerous or comic notion that seems to come to us like a devil's whisper, urging us to pursue it.
An openness to surprise reminds us why we made the commitment in the first place--because the task of creating something from nothing acts upon us as much as we upon it, and the surprise of our own humor, rage, eros and empathy thrills us, fulfills us. A composer friend of mine once said, "We create so that we won't die." An openness to surprise keeps our commitment to the creative act alive.
Patience. A crucial element of commitment. The waiting, with or even without expectation, for the next moment to arrive. Hopeful, watchful, the testing of faith in ourselves and that to which we're committed. A trait as valuable as a good work ethic, an artist's patience is aided by curiosity about what's coming next, and a conviction that it will probably be worth the wait. Because the real test of an artist's commitment is that he or she would rather be there, waiting, working, fretting, than anywhere else.
(On a personal note, this journey of waiting, working and fretting more or less describes the writing, re-writing, and then, ultimately, publication of my first crime novel, Mirror Image. Creating a mystery series character had been a life-long dream of mine, and though at times it seemed as though my protagonist, psychologist and trauma expert Daniel Rinaldi, would never make it into print, my patience finally paid off. Not because I'm that patient by nature, I assure you. But rather because the writing of that novel was itself an experience I treasured, even when unsure about the eventual outcome of the project.)
Which brings me, finally, to love. The foundation of commitment. Having the faith, endurance or just plain stubborness to stay committed against all odds is meaningless without love. An artist who doesn't love his or her art can't make a real commitment to it; all the struggles, the blocks, the high's and low's, become merely a test of one's will, or ego.
Without love, one can perhaps survive the creative life--maybe even garner some success in the marketplace--but what you're committed to lies elsewhere. Without love, the true joy of creation--that mysterious kinship with your craft, that transcendance of yourself whenever what you've created has literally captured your heart--is rarely felt.
A commitment to the creative life, in the end, means that you accept, with as much grace as you can muster on any given day, its myriad demands and delights, failures and triumphs. Of course, like in any committed relationship, sometimes it seems like you're doing all the giving.
But then, when you least expect it, it gives something back, and you remember again why you love it, its meaning in your life. And, over and above this, you have the sublime experience of allegiance to something other than, and perhaps greater than, yourself.
Aries Fire Available on NOOK devices and apps
Q. Elaine, you’re an internationally recognized astrologer and intuitive channel. And you used astrology and your intuitive gifts to write “Aries Fire.” Please tell us about that.
A. Yes, I did use astrology to help create my characters. Each astrological sign, for those who don’t know, has certain traits and characteristics and qualities associated with them. You might have heard comments like, “She’s such a Gemini,” or “It’s just like a Capricorn to do that.” Since astrology is part of my profession, I used it as a tool to guide me in creating Seira, my main character.
What I did was create Seira’s astrological natal chart. The natal chart is a picture, or a snapshot, of the position of the planets at the moment of someone’s birth based on their birthdate, exact time of birth, and location, where they were born.
A natal chart illustrates the theme of a person’s life. So in looking at Seira’s chart, I could see certain events unfold which helped me to create tension and conflict based on her personality traits…her stubborness, her impulsiveness, and even her gift for ‘seeing’ and as a healer. Ya’ know, I’ll tell you, what gave me the idea for this was something that happened to me long ago.
I did a chart for a client. He emailed me his birth information. I immediately did a preliminary chart and thought…WOW …this guy is like the second coming of Christ or something.
I called him on the phone to verify his birth information because I like to be absolutely sure of the data. When I spoke with him on the phone a few days later, he told me he’d given me an incorrect birth time! So, I course-corrected and we proceeded on our merry way. So I essentially created a chart for someone that didn’t exist. (Or maybe they did, I just didn’t know it.)
And I thought, “Hey! I could create a chart for anyone, even someone fictitious.” So that’s what I did.
Regarding intuition…this might sound a bit odd, but as an intuitive channel, my frequency is open to those who’ve passed on. (Yes, I hear and see dead people.) Chatting with spirits is not uncommon for me and so I utilize this…gift…in all areas of my life.
For instance, when I’m writing and can’t think of a word I’m looking for, I’ll take a moment and get quiet. And then, I’ll hear the word and then think, ’what does that mean?’ I’ll look it up and viola! It’s the perfect word for the description or scene. I also trust my intuition when I’m stuck or stumped about what to write next. I’ll see an image, or smell certain scents or foods, hear a piece of music, and it’ll trigger a scene.
The world beyond our immediate and physical vision exists–sentient beings or whatever you wish to call them–angels, guides, passed on loved ones, muses, spirits. They love a good story, too, and are so willing to interject. I’ll read something I’ve written a few weeks after I’ve written it and think, “Wow, I don’t remember writing this!” We’d like to think we do things all by ourselves, but I know it’s all about collaboration.
Q. Did you use astrology to help you create other characters or situations in the book?
A. Actually, I focused solely on the Seira. ‘Aries Fire’ is dedicated to the astrological sign of Aries, so I made sure my protagonist was an Aries, through and through. But the other characters were taken from the history of the time OR I created them. In Kiki’s case, for example, I heard an accent in my head and used that as a jumping point to create her physical attributes and behavior. Both methods are just as fun.
Q. The characters you created are wonderfully rich and textured. And you’re very specific and nuanced when you describe behavior, whether it’s two characters interacting or a character responding to a situation or their surroundings. Would you elaborate on that?
Thanks! Sure. Happy to. Every person is unique, no matter the era. I’ll spend time at a lunch counter or on line at the grocery check out and observe people; what they do, what they say, how they say it. I’m amused by some, surprised by others, but this is the stuff of story.
I’ll pull up to a red light in my car and glance over at the car next to me and see a middle-aged man in a business suit singing his lungs out, pounding the steering wheel like he’s the drummer for Guns N’Roses. And I think, “This is hysterical. What makes this guy tick? Who is he? What’s going on in his life?”
No matter how major or minor the character, I want them to stand out in some way, in their own way. I need them to make a difference. When I wrote ‘Aries Fire’ I intentionally set out to breathe dimension into each character, no matter what their role. I hope that’s something I conveyed in the story. For instance, when Bishop Cyril is approached by his steward, I deliberately gave this man a distinct attitude evidenced by his efficient and brisk behavior. I love the steward… and he doesn’t even have a name! For me, it’s really critical that I envision each character fully, no matter what their role or station. They have a distinct purpose for being.
Q. This story grabs us from the very first pages, and doesn’t let up. Your main character Seira is really put through the ringer in her journey across the continents. How were you able to keep up this pace?
A. You know, honestly, all I did was create and mirror an Aries pace. Do you know any Aries? (Or any Aries Rising signs for that matter?) They can go all day and never see the dust clouds they leave behind. I’ve got a friend who’s an Aries Rising sign (In astrology, the Rising sign denotes the way the world sees you and interacts with you…your Rising sign is your worldly persona.)
Anyway, we used to live in neighboring towns in New Jersey. One day in winter we were slammed by a full-scale blizzard. I mean I was trapped in my house because the snowdrifts covered my door. Everything was at a stand-still. My friend called me and said she wanted to drive to Queens to visit her boyfriend, and wanted to know what I thought. I said, “Sweetie. The airports have shut down. The buses aren’t running. We’re nearing a state of emergency and you want to drive to Queens? I think you’re in denial!”
An Aries acts and behaves with almost blind determination. They surround themselves with constant motion. They shake things up, intentionally or not! You just cannot say ‘NO’ to an Aries and have them effectively hear you. In a lot of cases, conversation means confrontation to an Aries. So with Seira, she wasn’t going to be sitting around watching life happen. Not possible. She was going to blast her way through life…and many times without any thought as to the consequences.
What it comes down to for anyone, whether they’re an Aries, Aries Rising or not…who you are is what you’ll attract in the world. You create your world–your own peace, your own chaos, your own boredom, your fears, your own joy. Seira was angry. She wasn’t going to stop moving until she figured out a few things. I think I’d vote for her if she ran for President.
Q. You write very visually. In fact, you have a way of immersing all the reader’s senses in the story…smell, taste, touch, sound. Is this intentional?
A. It’s intentional in the sense that each day I set my intention. I’m a very sensual woman. (I think it’s one of the reasons my husband likes me!) I take great joy in feeling, seeing, tasting, touching, smelling, sounds, music. I live in this heightened sense of awareness when I set my intention on being present.
So when I begin my day, I start out by stating an ‘intention’. And I keep it simple. Before I even get out of bed, my thoughts are on gratitude, then intention. “Today my intention is to be as productive as possible, but not at the sake of myself.” Or…”Today, my intention is to be as health conscious as possible.” Or…”Today, my intention is to be as calm as possible.”
On a day that I know I’ll be writing, I’ll say, “Today, my intention is to be as clear as possible in my writing.” Or…”Today, my intention is to be an open channel for creativity.” Like that. And when you state an intention, your whole being gives you gentle reminders all day so you stay on track. Do it. It works.
When I’m writing, I don’t think about immersing the reader’s senses in my story. I visualize what my characters are experiencing, with all their senses, immersed in their surrounding, and write as if I’m experiencing it.
Q. The story takes place in the early years of the 5th century, in and around the Middle East, in what was then the Eastern Roman Empire. What attracted you to this period in history?
A. When I was searching for an era to write about, I didn’t have to go far. Soon after I began thinking about what to write, I attended a friend’s 50th birthday party. One of the party favors was a yellow 12” ruler. On the ruler were was a list of “Great Women Rulers of Art” throughout history. Something sparked inside me.
After the party I went home and Googled “famous women in history.” Hypatia of Alexandria was the first name to pop up, #1 on Google. Sidebar…how does that happen? She’d been dead for 1600 years, did no marketing, no SEO, and yet she ranks first on page one. I always trust that the Cosmos has my back!
There was little information and historical data on her but the morsels I did find were fascinating. I was enamored with her, and thought this is a terrific woman to write about. Since what we know about her is minimal–and yet her legacy and the impression she left grand—the tidbits did lend themselvles to a great story. It gave me the freedom to play without adhering so much to historical fact. I thought, “This is a perfect setting for my story. I’ll give Hypatia a bastard daughter.” And the seeds for my story were plopped into fertile ground.
I did extensive research ( I love research!) about the era and surrounding countries and cultures. I then created a timeline of the era that incorporated religion, spirituality and mysticism, peoples, the political climate, wars, and conquests. Rome, the Huns, the Jews…they all popped up during this turbulent time in the 5th century C.E. There it was, waiting for me all along.
That’s the thing about history. There’s so much of it out there, all we need to do is pick one small thing and it leads you down a path. I remember doing research on the type of ship that would take Seira to Ashkelon. And that led me to the types of wood used to build the ships, which led me to life in the marketplace. On and on. I think some famous book said, “Seek and ye shall find.” Wait a second…that’s what my mother used to say when I was looking for my favorite socks. It happens to be true.
Life goes on with help of a caring community
Robert Dembik, a resident of West Seneca, is thankful to be living in Western New York.
By Robert Dembik
It will be another great year in Buffalo because in this locale, someone or something will always have your back.
Yes, it will be a great year in Buffalo because we live in one of the greatest cities in America. We live in an area that has some of the best weather in the country. And, of course, we live in a region where people tend to stick up for one another, look out for one another and have each other’s back. I know that last entry firsthand and all too well.
I had been traveling in late October to the Maryland/Washington,
D. C., area for a family christening. It was an early Sunday morning, one of those 6 a. m. flights that we all love so much. Our family was preparing to welcome
its first newborn in more than 30 years. There was a lot to be thankful for, right before the holiday season.
I had come to enjoy and embrace Buffalo Niagara International Airport’s coziness, and I was looking forward to this excursion. However, I don’t remember my trip to the airport, or even being there, because I had a “heart event” and almost met my maker. I collapsed just after making it through the security checkpoint.
If you live in Western New York, you know what happened next. The Buffalo Airport Fire Department and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Police Department went into emergency mode. The first responders’ actions were magnificent!
As fate would have it, a local doctor was walking by and saw the whole thing. He immediately began CPR on me, which turned a life-threatening event into a lifesaving experience for me. The automatic external defibrillator was used with great success. I eventually made it to one of our great, local hospitals. The doctors cooled my body down to 90 degrees. Then the wait began. Maybe it wasn’t my time, after all.
For those of you who like to complain about the little stuff, or the big stuff, or any stuff we have to put up with in life, (myself included), I say, “complain not!” It’s a privilege to live in this realm of existence we call life, this great city we call Buffalo and this great country we call the United States of America.
The City of Good Neighbors? This is an understatement! We have a wonderful and unmatched spirit in this locale. The people in this region stand for something and mean something to each other, and I suggest the notion that we mean something to the rest of the world.
For those who like to whine that no one cares about them, or that they are always in a bad spot, or that their glass is always half full, or not full at all, I say: Remember that someone or something will always have your back in Buffalo.
That’s because the great spirit of Niagara Falls, or the spirit of Father Nelson Baker, or the spirit of someone or something you care deeply about, had my back on that fateful day. And it will always have yours, too. It’s another great new year in Buffalo, and I am thankful to be here.
There's an old joke about the relationship between Hollywood writers and their agents: a veteran screenwriter comes home to find police and fire trucks crowding the street. As he scrambles out of his car, he sees that there's nothing left of his house but a pile of black dust and smoking embers.
Stricken, he asks the officer in charge what happened. The cop shakes his head and says, "Well, it looks like your agent came to your house, murdered your entire family, took all your valuables, then burned the place to the ground."
To which the writer responds, with an astonished smile, "My agent came to my house?"
A telling joke. As a former Hollywood screenwriter myself, and now a psychotherapist who works with creative people in the entertainment industry, I'm very familiar with the complicated, symbiotic connection between "the talent" and their agents.
There are few relationships as shrouded in myth, half-truths and just plain misconceptions as that between a creative person and his or her agent. Moreover, what makes any discussion of agents so difficult is that, in my view, the most important aspects of that relationship have almost nothing to do with the agent, and everything to do with the artist.
So, before talking about what every writer, actor or director needs to recognize as his or her own contribution to the sometimes puzzling, often painful relationship between artist and agent, let's list some sobering facts:
First, your agent is not your parent. It's not the agent's job to encourage, support or validate your creative ambitions, insofar as they reflect your inner need to be loved and cherished. Such needs were your birthright, and, hopefully, were given to you in your childhood. If, however, they were not, it's not your agent's job to pick up the slack.
Second, your agent is in business to make money. This is not a crime against humanity, an affront to the arts, nor a personal repudiation of your aesthetic dreams. It's just a fact.
And, lastly, while your agent may indeed admire your talent, and share with you lofty creative and financial goals, he or she is not obligated to care about them as much as you do. In fact, no one cares about your career as much as you do. Which means the burden of worrying about your artistic aspirations, income, reputation in the field, and level of personal and professional satisfaction rests entirely on your shoulders.
These three points aside, what every creative person needs to understand is that the very nature of the artist's position in society contributes to the asymmetry of the relationship between artist and agent.
The moment an artist offers his or her work for evaluation to the marketplace---whether to a film producer, TV network, or casting director---that artist is instantly placed in a vulnerable position, similar to that of child to care-giver. Since the marketplace is often experienced as holding the power to validate one's work, it has the ability to mirror back to the artist either affirming or debilitating messages about the artist's worth.
When dealing with an agent---a person equally embedded in the machinery of the marketplace---the artist's vulnerabilities often lead him or her to exaggerate the agent's opinion; to place an unrealistic burden on the relationship with an agent, in terms of its providing solace and support; or to use, as a child does, the agent's responses as a mechanism for emotional self-regulation.
The reality is, the artist-agent relationship can't handle such burdens. The artist expects too much in the way of esteem-building, validation and empathy. Which means that every unreturned phone call by the agent, every less-than-ecstatic response to a new piece of work or proposed project, every real or imagined shift in vocal tonality during a conversation is experienced by the creative person as an injury to his or her self-worth.
The wise artist understands this, if only theoretically, and should at least strive to keep his or her relationship with an agent in context. Hopefully it will lessen the blows, whatever they are and whenever they come.
Because, to be candid, there's something I've come to believe after 24 years in practice working with creative types: consciously or not, most people come to Hollywood in search of an approving parent. And it's the worst place in the world to find one.
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By Dennis Palumbo
Reviewd by Janice Shapiro, MFT Intern
Having the choice to review the only piece of fiction for CAMFT among all the non-fictions selections available was a challenging undertaking, but I’m glad I did. Dennis Palumbo’s book Fever Dream, Published by Poisoned Pen Press, November 2011, started me thinking just how powerful our education, training and experience in the mental health field is as it influences many areas of our lives. Fever Dream is the second novel in A Daniel Rinaldi Mystery series. It is a crime mystery not to be missed, and readers in the mental health field will have an added understanding of its specialness.
Dr. Rinaldi, the hero and narrator of the story, is a clinical psychologist specializing in victims of violent crime whose traumatic experience has left them with residual anxiety, depression, paranoia, and fear. In addition to his private practice, he is a consultant with the Pittsburgh Police Department. The consultant part of his job gets him mixed up in all sorts of dangerous crime solving adventures.
Fever Dream begins with a bloody bank robbery in progress and only one hostage released. The victim is traumatized and covered with blood and specks of brain matter. Dan Rinaldi is called to come right away to attend to the hostage and help the police get needed information from her about what’s going on inside the bank.
It’s been a year since Rinaldi’s last adventure with the Pittsburgh Police Department. Readers are reunited with favorite characters from the first novel in the series, Mirror Image. One such character is District Attorney Leland Sinclair. Sinclair is not Rinaldi’s favorite person, but he has to work and get along with him. This year is an election year and Sinclair is running for governor of the state. From here on until the very end of the story, readers should get ready for exciting adventures, interesting characters, intricately woven plots with lots of twists and turns, love interests, violence, action and many, many surprises throughout. Calling this book a ‘page turner’ is an understatement. You won’t be able to put it down!
Many crime stories have all the above elements, but this novel has something special that no other crime stories I know have: Dennis Palumbo, M.A., MFT. His biography states that he was a successful Hollywood screenwriter before becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist. He is currently a psychotherapist in private practice for 20 years. In my opinion, his education, training and experience is what makes his writing stand out. His characters are authentic and he takes them into a uniquely humanistic dimension. The descriptions of the settings and actions are sometimes poetic and often filled with metaphors. His character, Dr. Rinaldi, gives his all to others before he has a chance to take care of himself (sound familiar?). Mr. Palumbo knows his psychology and what it’s like working in the mental health profession and brings all of this into his writing.
The combination of psychotherapist and author got me thinking: the years it takes to become a therapist and the experience one gets as a therapist can influence many different aspects of our lives. So, I encourage you to read and enjoy Fever Dream, but after you finally put the book down, keep thinking about how the therapist in you flows out into the different areas of your life.
AND NOW comes another book which I can't wait to read. In April we'll get "Mrs. Kennedy and Me," from Clint Hill, the secret service man who was the watchdog for the then first lady and climbed on the back of the limo to protect her when JFK was shot.
After 50 years, Clint who has been supremely quiet and always tasteful, will tell his story of four years with Jackie for the very first time. After the assassination, Clint rose in the Secret Service to the very pinnacle. But he remained enthralled by Jackie -- "swept up in the whirlwind of her beauty, her grace, her intelligence, her coy humor, her magnificent composure, and her extraordinary spirit."
This is being published by Gallery Books of Simon and Shuster and will also be available on Amazon Kindle. Maybe Clint Hill will still impress us with candor and feeling. I'm betting he will; he has always been a heroic figure to me.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com, or write to her c/o Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207.)
I recently attended a Marketing Mastermind meeting and found myself surrounded by an amazing circle of influence. Each of us brainstorming our creative powers with the other members of the group as we discover new ways to bring our knowledge and services to the marketplace.
After the meeting we joined for dinner and as I looked around I realized just how amazing this circle of fine minds was! Creative energy flowing, laughing, learning and enjoying the company of genius leading edge thinkers…. and I couldn’t help but acknowledge that I created this experience through the intention I had set years ago.
Here I was sitting across the table from Award Winning Architect Julie Lineburger, Musical Genius Lisa McCormick, Founders of Magical Earth Retreats Don and Jane Jones (Don is also known as The Wizard of Wisdom) and
Internet Marketing GENIUS- Tellman Knudson! (Tellman is also the worst banjo player in the world…. but that’s another story) I found myself learning new things, stretching myself a little out of my comfort zone…. but finding my balance and stepping into the fullest version of myself by seeking out, connecting with and recognizing the power of Creativity.
Creativity is such an important part of our life, much more powerful than most people realize, and we all have it in us. All of us…. no matter what…. no exceptions.
Recently I had the honor of being joined in the LeadingEdge Talk studio by Hollywood writer/producer, author of 15 books and nominated for an Emmy for his work in “The Kennedy Detail” -Dr. Kenneth Atchity, whose industry depends on this very power. During the show we talked about What is Creativity and Why is it so powerful? And you can listen to the entire show here to find out why Dr. Atchity says “Creativity is more important to humans than breathing”.
Enjoy the replay here
Whatever path you are following to wealth…. it will take creativity to get there. Sometimes that means learning, which is what you are doing right now by reading this blog and taking advantage of the wisdom and resources my guests share. You are a Creative Genius…… it’s already in there, you just need to connect with it.
Another way to get creative in learning is to READ! I HIGHLY recommend you check out Dr. Atchity’s Book
“How To Escape Lifetime Security And Pursue Your Impossible Dream”
It is possible for you to have the life you want to have, and to connect with the creative power you already have within yourself. Believe it. Believe in You. There is a saying (by who I don’t remember at this moment, but it goes something like this
“I have discovered as truth as I look at what I myself am creating…… When you believe in yourself, the world has no choice but to Believe in you too”.
Your experience is valuable, and you can learn to monetize what you know. Open yourself up to learn and the most amazing teachers will find their way into your life.
This I know for sure.
Be sure to follow the “Aware to Millionaire” blog and get your inbox Rocked by Wisdom.
Creating a Beat Sheet
About the Presenter
Dr. Atchity is the author of 15 books, including A Writer’s Time, Writing Treatments That Sell, and How to Publish Your Novel. He’s worked successfully in nearly every area of the publishing and entertainment business, and has spent his lifetime helping writers get started with and improve their careers. As founder and head of Atchity Entertainment International, Inc., The Writer’s Lifeline, Inc., including Atchity Productions and Story Merchant, and The Louisiana Wave Studio, LLC. he has produced nearly 30 films in the past 20 years for major studios, television broadcasters, and independent distribution. He is currently nominated for an Emmy for “The Kennedy Detail,” based on the New York Times bestselling book he developed. For nearly twenty years before, as professor of literature and teacher of creative writing at Occidental College and UCLA, he helped literally hundreds of writers find a market for their work by bringing their craft and technique to the level of their ambition and vision. During his time at Occidental, he also served as a regular reviewer for The Los Angeles Times Book Review.
MRS. KENNEDY AND ME
An Intimate Memoir
Author: Hill, Clint
Author: McCubbin, Lisa
Review Issue Date: March 1, 2012
Online Publish Date: February 13, 2012
Publisher:Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster
Price ( Hardcover ): $26.00
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-1-4516-4844-7
Evocative memoir of guarding First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy through the young and sparkling years of the Kennedy presidency and the dark days following the assassination.
Secret Service Special Agent Hill had not looked forward to guarding Mrs. Kennedy. The action was with the president. But duty trumped preference, and he first met a young and pregnant soon-to-be First Lady in November 1960. For the next four years Hill would seldom leave her side. Theirs would be an odd relationship of always-proper formality combined with deep intimacy crafted through close proximity and mutual trust and respect. Hill was soon captivated, as was the rest of the world, by Mrs. Kennedy’s beauty and grace, but he saw beyond such glamour a woman of fierce intelligence and determination—to raise her children as normally as possible, to serve the president and country, to preserve for herself a playful love of life. Hill became a part of the privileged and vigorous life that went with being a Kennedy, and in which Jacqueline held her own. He traveled the world with her, marveling at the adulation she received, but he also shared the quiet, offstage times with her: sneaking a cigarette in the back of a limousine, becoming her unwilling and inept tennis partner. When the bullet ripped into the president’s brain with Hill not five feet away, he remained with her, through the public and private mourning, “when the laughter and hope had been washed away.” Soon after, both would go on with their lives, but Hill would never stop loving Mrs. Kennedy and never stop feeling he could have done more to save the president. With clear and honest prose free of salaciousness and gossip, Hill (ably assisted by McCubbin) evokes not only a personality both beautiful and brilliant, poised and playful, but also a time when the White House was filled with youth and promise.
Of the many words written about Jacqueline Kennedy, these are among the best.