By Casey Frank
I’ve always wanted to write a story based on it. I’ve always wanted to live the lyrics, to follow the long phrasing by following the long journey toward happiness. I’ve always wanted to taste that plum, to have the juices from it roll down my chin in drips of satisfaction. I’ve always wanted to fly away from misery and have the freedom to lift both feet off the ground and into the sky. I’ve always wanted to taste that sweet wine, pouring it down my throat like the medications I take, only that cup would actually cure me. I’ve always wanted to feel the romance of love, the arms wrapped around me: arms of someone who cared enough to consider me a person rather than a pair of tits and a pussy. I’ve always wanted to wait until a warm kiss. I’d wait in anticipation, in hesitation, in hope while I stare into his eyes and smile because I wouldn’t be able not to do so.
Frank Sinatra’s song “The Best Is Yet to Come” has been the influence for countless attempts to convert his words into my own. When I hear it, I think of the grey dust of the Great Depression swallowing the sunlight and contentment of two neighbors. When the sun shines, when they are realize the love between them, when the grey lifts, the best has come.
My main difficulty with this inspiration is that I’ve never felt like that. I’ve been in love (I think, but sometimes I doubt what it really was), but I’ve never written a story that involves romance. I give my characters full power—more power than I give myself in deciding their fate—, which means that they come alive and become my nemeses in the production of a story that I want to write but can’t because they tell me that they will never change or grow.
Inevitably, my characters are duplicates of myself. As hard as I try, I cannot get away from my insecurities, philosophies, and even my life. I attempted and then failed at meeting the challenge of National Novel Writing Month last November. I was so proud of my character and her complete absence of any comparison to me. I kept writing, never looking back. When I stopped trying to meet the word count, I did look back. I read what I wrote, fully expecting the accomplishment that I had just achieved. Well, all that rereading of my jumbled, freewritten words only made me discover a whole different and frightening aspect to my personality. I found myself hidden in a new situation that I had never considered.
“You ain’t seen nothing yet.” I have only seen the disfigured personifications of myself. I ain’t seen nothing yet. The telescope that I need doesn’t exist past my vision in the mirror; instead, I have a microscope: I study through the lenses only specimens that come from my own dead skin cells, strands of hair, and tiny beliefs that fit on the slide. I dissect my personality with a scalpel just to learn that there is nothing there. “Still it’s a real good bet, the best is yet to come.”