Jan’s confession: Prior to reading Keith’s book, Me Again, I had no expectation of doing a two-part interview, but it wasn’t long before I succumbed to his Nick Hornby-ish voice. When my ex-physician self began to laugh, nod and applaud his fictionalized account of a very real health issue – recovery from stroke – I knew I was in.
For the story behind the book, and to how Keith overcame special craft issues posed by his narrator’s disabilities, please see Part 1.
Today, among other things, we’ll discuss the intersection of drumming and art.
Jan: In case we’ve permitted you to forget for five seconds, I’ve noticed a few facts: You’re a man. You’ve written an emotional story about personal transformation. It’s being marketed as women’s fiction.* You tolerate questions around this “anomaly” with the humour and equanimity I’ve come to expect. In other words, you seem to have a secure identity.
Did the writing/publishing/marketing of this book create or cement any of that security? If so, how?
Keith: When writing Me Again, it hadn’t occurred to me that it would be marketed as women’s fiction, but I did specifically try to write a story that I thought would resonate with women. I knew that would require opening up emotionally more than in the previous things I’ve written. So I went for it, and dug deeper than I ever have, and ended up writing some things that to this day make me cry when I re-read them.
But I don’t know that this is so much an indication that I’m secure; if anything, it’s more of an acceptance of whatever vulnerability or insecurities I may have, and an attempt to leverage those qualities into emotionally powerful storytelling. Remember, I’ve spent the majority of my life on stage. I started playing drums professionally when I was fourteen, and I was active in local theater for several years prior to that. So all those years taught me to project a confidence that may exceed what I’m actually feeling.
And from having lived through the countless things that can go wrong onstage – whether it’s being stranded on a theater stage while you wait for a character to make a late entrance, or your bandleader falling down drunk, or your hair catching fire under the stage lights, or any number of appalling things – you learn one important truth:
You cannot die from embarrassment – even in situations so awful that you wish you could.