Tom Chapin Does It Again

February 1, 2008

If you want it, you can get it,
But to get, you’ve got to want it.
Anything you want to try — just let go, fly high!
     —theme song for Make a Wish, 1970s Sunday morning children’s program
        performed by Tom Chapin, b. 1944, American singer-songwriter, 
        text by Lester Cooper, 1919-1985, American television writer and producer

The piece I posted on Wednesday about how Tom Chapin saved my life was triggered by the piece I wrote about my history with keeping a private diary. During those years of depression, when I would watch Make a Wish, I would also from time to time write in those artist’s sketch books I mentioned, confess my misery, wail my longing for connection, beweep my outcast state. “Outside my window it’s like black and white tv,” I remember writing. Maybe it’s good none of that material survives.

Despite my lethargy these past weeks and my difficulty concentrating, I did manage to meet a deadline. I prepared a manuscript and an admissions application for a residency at the Blue Mountain Center in the Adirondack mountains of New York. This required a 30-page writing sample and a proposal for work to be accomplished while in residence. Although writers are encouraged to send “their best work,” I find that each application requires a certain degree of consideration and shaping of the work I choose to send. I got everything together and put going to the post office on my list of things to do.

I didn’t have time to do that before my regular Thursday morning women’s study group meeting. When the meeting broke up I stopped at home for a little before some afternoon appointments, the application package still in my car. The mail had already arrived,  and in it was an envelope from the Millay Colony, yet another residency program to which I had applied in October. The envelope was dishearteningly flat, and I know from the process with Jentel that were I to be offered a spot they would probably have called to determine which in the range of dates I’d given suited us both. 

The rejection was stated in the gentlest and most encouraging of terms. They get many more applications than spots they have to offer (this is a smaller operation than Jentel), they thank me profusely for my interest in their program, and they encourage me to apply again at a later time.

I certainly wasn’t unprepared  for this. I applied to and was rejected by two other programs at the same time that I sent virtually the same material to Jentel. Being one for four now (two for five if you count Bread Loaf) still gives me a pretty high ratio of acceptances to rejections. But still, it’s not the news you want to get on a gray January day when you have another package (again, with almost the same content that Millay saw) waiting in the car. What’s the use, I asked myself? Wouldn’t the $20 processing fee be better spent on a pound of chocolate covered cordial cherries or Clinique Happy To Be body wash?

I took a deep breath, filed the letter (every writer I know has made a wry or amusing piece out of their history of rejection), and went to check e-mail and surf the Web a bit before my dentist appointment.

I thought about Tom Chapin again. I checked his tour schedule. He’ll be appearing nearby in a few weeks. B-day card for Tom Chapin, I wrote on my To Do list. Make a Wish is not available on video. Too bad. In the mood I was in, any vendor would have had an instant sale. I Googled some more. (And it looks like you’re going to have to Google it yourself. Or You-Tube it. The code keeps getting corrupted between my applying it and publishing it. Search for “Make a Wish Tom Chapin” on You Tube. There’s also a link from Tom’s site. Click on “Cool Stuff.”)

I want it. And I can’t have it unless I try. I watched the video a few times, and went to the post office.

Thanks Tom. Again.

Love it? Hate it? Just want to say Hi? Leave a comment, or e-mail me:
margaretdeangelis [at] gmail [dot] com (replace the brackets with @ and a period)

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