Thursday, June 11, 2009

I Stand All Amazed (May 18)

Dear Family and Friends,

I am amazed. Do dreams always come true? So much has happened this week that I'm not sure where to start.

Monday I decided on a new title for my inspirational book that is nearing completion – Watching Cookies in the Oven. With the new title came the realization that I no longer needed 52 chapters (the previous title was 52 Weeks), so I took out about 20, and the result is a much more manageable (and more finished) manuscript.

Tuesday I edited my most recent children's book, and the result (the new version of Children of the Queen) was really good. So I'm going to shoot for the sky. BYU is hosting a “Writing for Young Readers” conference next month, and they'll have some pretty high-profile guests (editors... and an established literary agent). My plan is to try pitching my ideas to them with the hope that I could land a contract with one of the major publishing firms. Like I said, I'm just going to shoot as high as possible. I'll land somewhere on the way down.

I began writing two more books on Wednesday. One is a modern rendition of Hansel and Gretel that takes place in Africa, and the other is a book called “Go Read This Book When You're Under a Tree.” I also got a call from the MTC asking me to start work with my internship this week!

Thursday I had callbacks for Pirates of Penzance. On my way to callbacks, I thought about simply not going. I had realized that the hour long one-way commute was a bit long... and I didn't relish the thought of paying for gas and parking, especially when the Scera Shell Outdoor Theater in nearby Orem was doing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat around the same time. The Scera is a lot closer and would be easier to fit into a busy schedule. But, because I had told the director I would be at callbacks, I felt like I needed to fulfill my commitment. The cold reading went really well, and I decided to simply give it my all in the singing. Near the end, the director took four of us and had a girl stand next to each of us (to see how each guy fit with the girl, I assume...). When I realized that there was a chance of my actually getting a major role, I rethought a bit. I was trying out for musicals so that I could have experience and exposure. If I were cast as a major role in Pirates of Penzance, I would have the opportunity to learn tap (experience), get great stage time (experience and exposure), and learn a new musical (experience). So I thought, prayed, and made a decision. If they offered me the lead, I would accept it. If not, then I would go try out for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

The end result? I've been cast as the male lead – Frederic – and our first music practice is a week from Tuesday. We'll have practices throughout the summer, and then perform during the month of August.

Frederic is a high tenor... and I've always thought of myself as a bass. That transitions into what happened Saturday at my vocal master class. A famous voice teacher came to Salt Lake through my voice studio and, during the 2-hour master class, worked with individual volunteers. After working with me for ten minutes, I mentioned that I was often assigned to sing tenor even though I was a bass. “But you're not a bass,” was his reply, “You're a tenor.” I stared at him. I'm still not sure if I believe him. I'm only just realizing that I can sing in the tenor range and people appreciate it.

Along with the great events here came sobering news from home. A good family friend passed away after fighting with cancer. And while I know that she is free of pain, with her loved ones, and has finally passed the test, it doesn't lessen the ache that is left behind on earth. It’s like in Children of the Queen – there is a time to mourn... to reflect on memories and events, loves and passions. As painful as the events of life may be, I know that the Lord knows what He is doing. He will do everything to enable us to be eternally happy... and happy in the here and now. Each of us has gifts, talents, and abilities that can bless the lives of others. One of the best ways to learn happiness is to dedicate yourself to the service of others. Sometimes we are content to do little things... but ultimately the Lord has great things in store for us. You may not be inspired to audition for Broadway or to write the next New York Times Bestseller. ...But you also may. Each of us needs to be willing to shoot for the stars when we see the opportunity come. Whether we arrive at our intended destination isn't as important as the journey that takes us there.

I know that Jesus is the Christ and that He will guide us as we search for excellence. With Him at our side, we have the ability to achieve anything... to rebound from the most difficult challenges, to overcome the hardest trials, to rise to the greatest success. Life is always hard. It will always be hard. But that's ok.

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