mine: john paul white

an embarrassing pitch

i’m always saying i write what i feel like writing and don’t much care who reads it, and i say it extra often when i’m writing an exchange fic. the audience is one! if other people like it, cool, but that’s not the goal. 

and i’m not even making it up because i think it makes me sound chill – it’s honestly how i feel! except sometimes i write something that has an audience of one and i’m like, ugh, i think this story should have an audience of at least five. how can i make that happen? 

so consider this my plea! i’ve recently written longing gone, which is 17k of slow-burn misery about a band that broke up four years ago. it is rpf. it involves adultery. i mean, we all understand why the audience here is one.

i get it! but if you weren’t into Sadsack Shipping i don’t think you would be here, so give me like ten minutes to talk you into this. 

the civil wars have FUCKING GREAT sadsack shipping songs, but until relatively recently that’s basically all i knew about them. 

here’s the rest: joy and john paul were both married to other people when they met at a songwriting workshop in nashville. they fell into a musical trance they both described with words like “cosmic,” formed a band, toured nonstop for a few years, and won some grammys. just as they seemed on the cusp of Actual Capital-S Success, they embarked on a headlining tour of europe. they lasted eight shows. after a gig at the london roundhouse, which they managed to play without ever looking at one another, JP fucked off home, they issued a statement about “irreconcilable differences,” and they haven’t spoken since. 

they put out an album that was recorded just before the split, which is full of lyrics like “i wish i’d never ever seen your face.” joy did the press for the album alone, giving a series of increasingly depressed interviews in which she said she had no idea if the band was broken up because john paul wouldn’t talk to her. why did they cancel the tour? “i’d really like to know that myself,” she said. in 2014, john paul accepted a grammy alone on behalf of the band and thanked his plumber. eventually they officially broke up, and the next year she released a solo album that was about like Finding My Power and Making It Through or whatever. a year after that, he released one that might as well be called I KNOW YOU ARE BUT WHAT AM I.

but whatever, i dare you to spend seven minutes watching the following two videos in this order and not wince.

BEFORE:

AFTER:

yikes. so what happened? who knows. but i’ve always wanted to write about a band falling apart on the road, and i was especially into the idea of trying to write a story in which shit goes spectacularly wrong but the people involved are not clear on why, or what happened, or when they might have made a different choice. no one is at fault; they both want different, unbearable things. they try to be kind, and it doesn’t matter. it’s like the ultimate sadsack shipping puzzle. 

so there you go, there’s my pitch! here is the story. now i will try to shut up and go back to whatever it is i was doing before i was doing this. was it black sails? something something howard stark? whatever. <3

Someone once told me a story about long term relationships. To think of them as a continent to explore. I could spend a lifetime backpacking through Africa, and I would still never know all there is to know about that continent. To stay the course, to stay intentional, to stay curious and connected – that’s the heart of it. But it’s so easy to lose track of the trail, to get tired, to want to give up, or to want a new adventure. It can be so easy to lose sight of the goodness and mystery within the person sitting right in front of you.
—  Joy Williams

I don’t know when I started believing this, but I used to think if you’re a good woman you can’t be messy, and you can’t be mad…I’ve been learning that neither of those two things is true. This is that moment when you want to call someone up and give them a piece of your mind, but you don’t because you know that no good will come of it.

I’ve learned sometimes it is enough to let yourself feel the anger…It doesn’t mean that you have to always act on it. Anger can actually bring a searing clarity, and moving through that anger can eventually bring peace.

…I’m discovering what it means to be a woman…It’s not necessarily the things I was taught. It’s the things I’m learning on my own. The good, the bad and the ugly is all in there. To be strong and to be weak, and to be scared and to be bold, and to be angry and to forgive, and to be broken and to break open, and break through, and to be hurt and to do the hard work to heal. That’s the type of woman I want to be.

—  Joy Williams on What A Good Woman Does
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Drink You Gone // Ingrid Michaelson FT. John Paul White 

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“I really do feel like we’re each other’s opposite in every way, actually. I don’t really know how this whole thing works. But I hope that it keeps working for a really long time because I’d love to be singing night after night after night with my friend” - joy williams in 2011