Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Jessica Maria Tuccelli talks about the side routes of the creative life

Jessica Maria Tuccelli's debut novel Glow is a knockout. About history, nature, magic and the bonds between a mother and child, it's so startlingly original, I was underlining whole pages. I'm thrilled to have her here. Thank you Jessica!

When I listen to interviews of famous artists, I find myself less interested in their successes than in their side routes, turnabouts, and failures. Especially the failures. As the saying goes, to fail is human, and exploring what that means—our humanity—captivates me. In fact, nothing bores me more than a tale of the straight shot to success. I want to know where someone fell, how she bruised her knees but picked herself up and got back into the fray. I want to know about tenacity. About insecurity. And yes, I admit, I want a story that ends in triumph. 

The truth makes a person feel more vulnerable, but it is precisely this vulnerability that lures me in—as an artist and as a person. As I begin my own emergence into the public eye with my debut novel, Glow, I start to understand why certain details are held close in an interview. The less you know about me, the more stalwart I feel. I want to protect my privacy, which again, goes back to vulnerability. I demonstrate here with the story of how I became an author:
Graduate from MIT
Attend art school in Chicago
Make movies 
Move to New York City
Study acting 
Join improvisation troupe
Make more movies
Take writing class 
Write more
And more 

Tight story. And yet, what is it that I have chosen not to reveal? What am I omitting because I do not want to feel exposed, even if it makes me more fleshed out, a character with depth and weaknesses?

So again:
Attend MIT 
Study molecular biology (What am I doing? I hated Bunsen burners in high school.)
Switch to anthropology and archaeology (Anthropology at MIT???)
Graduate from MIT (Where’s my medal of honor?)
Move to California (To live with boyfriend. Parents appalled. Grandparents even more so.)
No one looking for anthropologist in California (Imagine that.)
Unemployment (Embarrassing.)
Work as accounting admin (Temp job. Must pay rent.)
Work on chemical factory production line (Ditto.)
Work for relational database corporation (Ditto.)
Work in French café (Meet sexy Italian.)
Work in used bookstore (Not a bad job, but minimum wage.)
Work as assistant for billionaire heir (Travel the world on private jet.)
Leave sexy Italian
Go to art school in Chicago (Struggling to find my purpose.)
Work in commercial photography studio (First job I love.)
Make movies (Lots of heavy lifting and no glamour.)
Become flamenco dancer (Amateur.)
Move to New York City (To be closer to family.)
Make more movies (Longing to be in front of the camera, but still behind it.)
Work as paralegal (Must pay rent so that I can make movies.)
Study acting 
Rejections (Tears.)
Clean houses (There’s that pesky rent again.)
Join improvisation troupe (Joy!)
Perform (More joy!)
Direct theatre (Joy joy joy!)
Make more movies (No closer to Hollywood dreams.)
Take writing class (After consulting an astrologer.)
Start writing
Write more 
Three years of research (Adventure!)
Finish Glow
Query agents
Rejections (Tears.)
Sign with agent!
Have a baby!
Produce a movie! 
Rewrite novel 
Complete novel!
Receive finished copy of novel Glow!
Publication (Hurrah!)

And yet, even this is not the full story. But the details are enough.

At least for now.


Patrick Gabridge said...

Love these lists, Jessica--both fun and revealing and smart. (I am a big fan of lists.) And that directing theatre was joy, joy, joy.

Margaret Wacker said...

Failure can teach us a lot, more than success. I agree that it is helpful to learn from the failures of others.
I love the list of your life story. It is as meandering as mine. But, that gives a lot of good material to write about. I certainly will check out your book, Jessica.
Thanks, Margaret