Posts Tagged ‘inspirations’

Spring Revision

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

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There is something uplifting about the early spring: crisp air and hot sun or the neon green of new grass against the grey of cooler rainy days. When I was a kid, our neighbors forsythia would burst into canary yellow blooms and in it’s shade was a small patch of vinca, a spring flowering ground cover. I loved those little purple flowers so much. I would pick a few and put them in a glass of water, then present them to my father with a sandwich for his lunch.

I knew when we moved into this house that vinca grew all over our property because there was still a flower lingering here and there, but it’s another thing all together to see our home blanketed in it. It feels right and special. I miss the gardens we’d begun at our old home – lightly neglected herbs and perennial flowers that bloomed throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Some fragrant, some colorful. But the vinca and forsythia and azaleas are enough for now. I traipsed around the yard with my oldest child this weekend, searching out these early blooming flowers, discovering the plantings around our new home. We started up the grill and I even broke out my iced tea press so you know I’m committed to this fresh, fine weather.

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Spring should be the season to review feedback — see where the revisions you’ve made have born fruit, as it were — but here I am still revising: planting the bulbs late, moving things around, hoping nothing sprouts stunted. This winter/early spring has been mostly snow and sick days. I should just give in to the fact that nothing of significance ever gets written in February in my home. But the sunshine and above freezing temperatures, the pastels and yellows and greens of April are warming me up. So! Writerly updates!

  1. I wrote a short story! And I submitted it to an anthology! And it got rejected! But that’s okay! It was about a boy and first contact with an alien shaped like a tiny pink pony and it was really fun to write and totally one hundred percent different from my novel which was a much-needed change of pace.
    1. I thought writing short stories after writing a novel would be a piece of cake. I was wrong.
    2. I really want the next big project I work on to be funny.
  2. I taught another event building workshop in March. In fact, I’m making a bit of a side business of helping authors plan and market book events. Because apparently I need more to do.
    1. When I couldn’t think of how to fix my novel, I made a website for my event coaching business. I  am now taking select clients.
    2. I have another workshop scheduled in June. You should come!
  3. I’m now doing a monthly marketing blog post for the Writer’s Loft blog, Loftings.
  4. I’ve been plugging away at revisions but it’s slow. I hit a big snag with The Month of February and then working through a really thorny chapter that had me stumped. Plus planning for my workshop. But! It goes!
  5. I read some books in January and February (highlights included Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson and the first few Company books by Kage Baker) but nothing much since. I’m currently enjoying the compilation of letters between Julia Child and Avis DeVoto because I love J.C. and because I can read it in little pieces before bed.

I am almost through revising Part 2 of 3 so that is a good feeling. I need to go back and continue to comb through the rough, messy parts. I was so hoping this draft would be wrapped up in another month or so but it may need longer. And then reading. And probably one more draft (not sure how deep of one, hard to say).

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I have days when I swear I am not smart enough for this, that I have nothing original to say. I have days when things slot together like an elaborate line of tumblers, unlocking something deep inside the story so I can see a bit of light shining through from the end, from the place this story could be.

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The Muse & The Marketplace 2015: Reflections

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

I attended my first writer’s conference last Saturday: The Muse & The Marketplace hosted by Grub Street Inc. a non-profit creative writing center in Boston (the same folks I took a class with earlier this spring). It was really cool to be surrounded by other writers of various stripes, to be exposed to a lot of fresh ideas about craft, and to meet-up with writer friends. There’s a huge component of The Muse that’s focused on publishing, including sessions and lunches where you can meet agents and editors, but I skipped those this year and focused on craft-based sessions. Click on the courses below for some of my take-aways:


["Timing is Everything: Negotiating Past & Present in Fiction"]

taught by Maya Lang

This workshop was fantastic and I wasn’t the only one discouraged by the blaring fire alarm that interrupted our session. Dr. Lang had a smooth, calm voice and made the concepts we covered – the position of your character in time and how that relates to the narrative of your story – seem approachable, achievable. She also talked about the way readers experience time: “Some stories make time disappear,” she said, “others make time slow down.” Like devouring a meal versus savoring an 11-course tasting menu. “Sometimes it’s worth dwelling.”

Notes:

  • META narrators are positioned away from the dramatic action, but the story brings them back through time to focus/reflect on that action. These narrators utilize: hindsight, regret, justification, self-awareness. The change in emotional state between then and now adds to the sense of emotional stakes – why the narrator is looking back.
  • IMMERSED narrators are present in the dramatic action of the story. These narrators utilize: immediacy, high stakes, likeability, more detail, no safety net, no pre-knowledge of the outcome. “You have to watch the pace of the unspooling” of the narrative.
  • Seamless flashbacks are woven into the narrative and flow of thought – they don’t disrupt the story. They are always “triggered” by a thought or sensory experience in the story.
  • Demarcated flashbacks are often longer and there is some sort of indicator (paragraph break, chapter break) indicating a movement in time. These tend to be fuller and richer than seamless flashbacks.

Reflections: This session was perfect for me because in The Ghost Story I am doing all four of these things – meta narration in the form of demarcated flashbacks alternating with live-action immersive narration with the occasional seamless flashback. I asked Dr. Lang if that was allowed, if I could do all of these things in one novel. That I didn’t want to do everything half-assed instead of one thing well. “Don’t think about what you ought to do in the first draft. Just write.” A lot of the temporal position questions can be resolved once you have the whole picture, she assured me, once you yourself can reflect back on the work.

Maya Lang: "Time is a tool at your disposal"

Maya Lang: “Time is a tool at your disposal”

["Dramatis Personae or What Are All These Characters Doing in Your Story"]

taught by Lynne Barrett

Twitterfbc7013Another fantastic session. Barrett dove right into characters from a theatrical point of view: their roles on stage, their exits and entrances, the dynamics of different numbers of characters interacting with different levels of knowledge. “A story has a cast with roles,” she explained, “And those roles and relationships can change shape and shift.” It was fascinating to think about making effective use of “stage time” for characters and developing triangles of tension between them. “Good books have lots of triangles in them,” she joked as she outlined the dynamics between characters in The Great Gatsby.

Notes:

  • The protagonist is important, but the story really starts with the entrance of the deuteragonist (2nd character) who may or may not be the antagonist. The introduction of a tritagonist (3rd character) allows for more variation – the deuteragonist can then take on more of a confidante role. But all of these roles can transform by the end of the story.
  • Aristole’s Poetics, Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale, and the Comedia dell’Arte all have examples of different kinds of roles that are useful in interpreting your characters. Doubling up on roles can really add drama through bonds of love/hate. E.g. Breaking Bad where the anti-hero and his antagonist are brothers-in-law –more dramatic than if they weren’t related.
  • There are viewpoint characters like Watson who relate the story/serve as a lens versus focal characters like Sherlock Holmes who are the main drivers of a story.
  • How do you make things happen in a story about internal struggle? Character “rifts” – Characters that enact internal struggle/conflict with strong actions that are contradictory serve the story  best. Continual contradiction creates character. Characters that say one thing but do another, who are consistently inconsistent create action and movement.
  • Ways to think about your characters and story design. Try making a character map or list outlining the breakdown of your characters by: class, territory, genealogy, order of appearance. Entrance order in Shakespeare’s plays made clear the balance of power to an audience without a program. What does your characters’ order of appearance say about the balances within your story?

Reflections: Yes, a thousand times yes. My story is bloating outward with characters; everytime I fact a conflict or am not sure which way a story should go, I add more characters. “Every character should really contribute to the outcome of the novel,” Barrett warned, “Always try to think about who can serve more roles.” I really appreciate being told to think about the roles my characters play and how those interact. Whose story is it? Who’s telling it? Who contributes to that story and how? Also love the character “rift” point, that contradiction is the strength of good characters.

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Lynne Barrett: “Good books have a lot of triangles in them.” Connections of marriage, lust, power, and money in Gatsby.

["'A Woman Wouldn't Say That'- Gendering Characters Without Bending to Stereotype"]

taught by Dawn Dorland Perry

A gentle conversation about how to develop characters that don’t conform to gender stereotypes. “In the absence of information in a story, a reader will make an assumption, likely fueled by a stereotype,” Perry said. We discussed techniques of characterization and what some of our own stereotypes are about men and women. “Stereotypes eat our writing from the inside out,” Perry warned, and urged us to think deeply about the context and point-of-view of stereotypes creeping into our own work. Perry did an excellent job of making the material accessible and comfortable, though I wish we had had the time to dig a little deeper into how gender shapes the choices we make about our characters. We did some reading and writing exercises that were very fruitful.

Exercise: Step 1: Call to mind someone you know Spend three minutes list the salient traits of this character, inventing and embellishing wherever you like. PAUSE. Step 2: Flip the gender of your character. Take a moment to adjust to this new reality. Then for five minutes write a passage rendering a scene from this new characters point-of-view, either in third or first person.

Reflections: Doing the gender-flip exercise was great and I loved the discussion it generated… I almost wish we had done that earlier in the workshop! This is a topic I think a lot about because my novel’s protagonist, while female, often passes for a boy and is fairly non-conformist. Its important to me not to fall into the traps of my own bias, especially when I’m creating an entire world to populate. It got me thinking about: what are the stereotypes in the world I am creating? How do my characters break not only the stereotypes of our world, but of theirs?

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Dawn Dorland Perry: “Stereotypes eat our writing from the inside out.”

["One Thing You Should Always Do Before You Write"]

taught by  Nadine Kenney Johnstone

Not too many notes on this because we spent most of the session doing a visualization exercise. Johnstone was very down-to-earth and organized, even with the cerebral nature of the exercise. Writing without developing a scene in your mind is like moving into a house with not plan for unpacking, layout, and design she explained. She walked us through a piece of writing, having us call out the d

WP_20150502_15_17_26_Proetails of scene and character that stuck with us. Then she led us in visualization exercise. First we jotted down a few notes about a day-in-the-life of our character and had us think about one thing that might be different on this day.  Then we closed our eyes and she had us picture the scene, first from a birds-eye view with natural elements, time of day/year, etc. Then she had us zoom in on the space our character occupied and examine it through the senses, then through the furnishings and objects around the character, then examining the character herself and those around her. Finally we focused on action in the scene and that subtle shift – who or what has changed at the end? What won’t be the same anymore?

Reflections: I liked this exercise, though I don’t think I did it right – I started my character in her bedroom in the morning, after first waking up before I realized we were sort of supposed to start them in the moment in change. But when I asked Johnstone about it she said “If you started in her room, there was a creative reason for it.” I think this is a great exercise for really diving deep into sensory details. It’s something I do in a smaller way on a regular basis since descriptive detail is my jam. But I liked the idea of “what is different about today?” and that it could be as small as waking up in a different mood. I had a mini “ah hah” moment during the exercise, so that was fruitful.

A hook to get me into a fresh scene for my novel...

A hook to get me into a fresh scene for my novel…

["Star Literary Idol"]

Pieces read by Steve Almond, judged by Stephen McCauley, Anita Shreve, Elinor Lipman, and Mameve Medwed

Imagine having your first page read aloud in the dulcet tones of writer Steve Almond and judged by four brilliant authors? Yup, that’s “Star” Literary Idol. Almond read the pieces aloud and if one of the judges hears a line that would prompt them to stop reading, they would raise their hand. Once two hands were raised, Almond would stop reading and the judges would critique the piece.

The first piece read aloud was a darkly funny piece about a man struggling with obesity, attending over-eaters anonymous with a bunch of skinny women. The judges loved it and wanted more. The second piece they read was MINE. Almond read it beautifully, I’m sure, but I only heard half of it because my heart was literally beating so hard and loud it felt like my entire rib cage would split open. But… no one raised a hand. My first 250 words made it through strict judgement! They were intrigued. Anita Shreve was worried that it would be grim, but was interested in hearing what happened next. They all liked the imagery (even Elinor Lipman who said “I don’t usually go for descriptions of leaves and things…”) and the unexpected line “the trees rattle and cough with hundreds of birds.” And then they were on to the next piece and my hands were shaking and I could breathe again.

Reflections: Terror! Now the rest of my novel has to live up to the first 250 words! Which was always the case, but some piece of me wants to believe that if I fix the beginning enough, the whole thing will be fixed – NOT TRUE. As for the rest of the pieces read and analyzed during the Idol session, about a quarter to a third of them were stopped mid-read, usually due to confusion, boredom, or cliché. There was a large swath that made it all the way through, but where the feedback was really mixed – the usual comment was “The first part was slow/clichéd/confusing, but it really started for me with your second-to-last line…” There were a handful that the judges had only positive feedback on, and a teeny tiny number that the judges loved.

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Mameve Medwed: “Dialogue should be the cream that rises to the top.”

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Cobble’s Knot

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

This is how I feel about plotting a novel. Like Maniac Magee pulling apart Cobble’s Knot. I just want to find the end, to see the whole thing unravel and make sense. Not there yet.

To the ordinary person, Cobble’s Knot was about
as friendly as a nest of yellow jackets. Besides the
tangle itself, there was the weathering of that first year,
when the Knot hung outside and became hard as a
rock. You could barely make out the individual
strands. It was grimy, moldy, crusted over. Here and
there a loop stuck out, maybe big enough to stick
your pinky finger through, pitiful testimony to the
challengers who had tried and failed.

And there stood Maniac, turning the Knot, check-
ing it out. Some say there was a faint grin on his face,
kind of playful, as though the Knot wasn’t his enemy
at all, but an old pal just playing a little trick on him.
Others say his mouth was more grim than grin, that
his eyes lit up like flashbulbs, because he knew he
was finally facing a knot that would stand up and fight,
a worthy opponent.

He lifted it in his hands to feel the weight of it. He
touched it here and touched it there, gently, daintily.
He scraped a patch of crust off with his fingernail. He
laid his fingertips on it, as though feeling for a pulse.
Only a few people were watching at first, and half
of them were Heck’s Angels, a roving tricycle gang
of four and five year olds. Most of them had had
sneaker lace or yo yo knots untied by Maniac, and
they expected this would only take a couple of seconds
longer. When the seconds became minutes, they
started to get antsy, and before ten minutes had
passed, they were zooming off in search of somebody
to terrorize.

The rest of the spectators watched Maniac poke
and tug and pick at the knot. Never a big pull or yank,
just his fingertips touching and grazing and peck
pecking away, like some little bird.
“What’s he doin’?” somebody said.
“What’s taking so long?”
“He gonna do it or not?”

After an hour, except for a few more finger size
loops, all Maniac had to show for his trouble were
the flakes of knot crust that covered the table.
“He ain’t even found the end of the string yet,
somebody grumbled, and almost everybody but
Amanda took off.

Maniac never noticed. He just went on working.
By lunchtime they were all back, and more kept
coming. Not only kids, but grownups, too, black and
white, because Cobble’s Corner was on Hector, and
word was racing through the neighborhoods on both
the east and west sides of the street.

What people saw they didn’t believe.

The knot had grown, swelled, exploded. It was a
frizzy globe, the newspaper the next day described
it as a “gigantic hairball.” Now, except for a packed
in clump at the center, it was practically all loops. You
could look through it and see Maniac calmly working
on the other side.

“He found the end!” somebody gasped, and the
corner burst into applause.

Meanwhile, inside, Cobble’s was selling pizza left
and right, not to mention zeps (a Two Mills type of
hoagie), steak sandwiches, strombolis, and gallons of
soda. Mr. Cobble himself came out to offer Maniac
some pizza, which Maniac of course politely turned
down. He did accept an orange soda, though, and then
a little kid, whose sneaker laces Maniac had untied
many a time, handed up to him a three pack of
Tastykake butterscotch Krimpets.

After polishing off the Krimpets, Maniac did the
last thing anybody expected: he lay down and took a
nap right there on the table, the knot hanging above
him like a small hairy planet, the mob buzzing all
around him. Maniac knew what the rest of them
didn’t: the hardest part was yet to come. He had to
find the right routes to untangle the mess, or it would
just close up again like a rock and probably stay that
way forever. He would need the touch of a surgeon,
the alertness of an owl, the cunning of three foxes,
and the foresight of a grand master in chess. To ac-
complish that, he needed to clear his head, to flush
away all distraction, especially the memory of the but-
terscotch Krimpets, which had already hooked him.
In exactly fifteen minutes, he woke up and started
back in.

Like some fairy tale tailor, he threaded the end
through the maze, dipping and doodling through
openings the way he squiggled a football through a
defense. As the long August afternoon boiled along,
the exploded knot hairball would cave in here, cave
in there. It got lumpy, out of shape, saggy. The Times
photographer made starbursts with his camera. The
people munched on Cobble’s pizza and spilled across
Hector from sidewalk to sidewalk and said “Ouuuu!”
and Ahhhh!”

And then, around dinnertime, a huge roar went up,
a volcano of cheers. Cobble’s Knot was dead. Undone.
Gone. It was nothing but string.

— from Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

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Posted in Quotations |

Hot coal

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Yesterday I had what I call a “hot coal” writing session. A hot coal moment is when you’re creating something so good and crucial to your art that you almost can’t touch it. But you must and you do because what makes it burn is it’s beauty and potential to change your work for the better. Doesn’t mean it still won’t hurt like hell.

I was in the zone, that feeling that you’re so immersed in the work and creative generation that you forget about time and word count and deadlines and that inner voice that says “Really, you think you can write anything original?” I knew the scene I was writing was a good one and suddenly the ideas were coming faster than I could write them. It was like I was tossing a hot coal back and forth between my hands while trying to write at the same time. A word here a word there. I had to roll my eyes, murmur to myself, and make lots of strange hand gestures. I’m sure my café compatriots thought I was having some sort of fit. It was an uncomfortable state to be in but at the same time I knew I was on to something. I wrote 900 words in about an hour which WOW is sometimes the amount I churn out in a day.

I don’t know if it was the scene itself or the loud music in the café, the sun streaming in the windows or having just come from writing class feeling plugged in. I hope it’s something I can recreate for myself.

Ever had a hot coal moment yourself? What was it like?

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Big Story Questions or What’s So Hard About Writing a Novel?

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

My W is a little lacking...

I’ve started my writing workshop through Grub Street and last week was my first opportunity to bring a piece of writing in to share with the group. Typically, one brings or email copies of one’s piece to other members of the class who then read and makes notes on it at home for discussion the following week. This class is a little different; we bring in copies for the class but instead of getting to take it home and ruminate on it, we read it aloud and discuss it right there in class. And we only get to bring in five pages. I can already tell this will be an adjustment.

The benefit to this on-the-spot kind of workshopping is you get immediate first impressions: this works for me, this confused me, etc. But it’s also a challenge because sometimes it can be hard to get at the root of why something works or doesn’t work in the ten minutes we have to discuss the work. Is it just something is phrased awkwardly? Or is there something fundamentally problematic with the character’s motivation or conflict? Perhaps that’s the point: it makes the writer do the work of sifting through the questions to figure out which speak to larger issues in the novel, which are scene specific, and which are irrelevant without the context of the rest of the piece.

(In classes like this I tend to talk to much as it is, so it’s a little bit of a challenge for me to have to whirl out a thoughtful critique on the spot without just babbling stream-of-consciousness style at the author and sucking up everyone’s time. So clearly a skill I need to develop.)

The positive feedback I received for my five-page scene: “Evocative, loved the descriptions, great tension, really felt pulled into the world.” Constructive critiques: “Was confused about the protagonist’s age; the characters give in too easily; dialogue on the final page falls apart; confusion about the mechanics of going to the Valley [the land of the dead].” But the biggest question was: “What ties the characters to this place and community when their life is so hard? Why don’t they leave?”

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A Meditation: Gardens

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Most mornings, after I drag my lazy butt out of bed, I open the backdoor and go outside to check on the garden. Each year we’ve lived in this house (almost three!) we’ve expanded our growing space. This year, in addition to our two raised beds, we added a small terraced herb garden to repurpose the small but drastic slope of the lawn down the driveway and reclaimed the space under our Norway Maple which had refused to grow, well, anything but a Norway Maple. Mostly we’re growing vegetables and herbs; lettuce, garlic, peas, strawberries (most of which were eaten by a wily chipmunk), peppers, basil, lavender, lemon balm, broccoli, tarragon, oregano, thyme, garlic chives, scallions, rosemary, sorrel, spinach. It’s an extensive list for a fairly compact space. My sister has been a huge help, letting us know what it makes sense to grow and what we should skip, why something might be succeeding while something else is failing, or when to harvest. So every morning I take my bowl of yogurt and fruit, tip toe through the dew-laden grass, and check on what’s blooming this morning. The weather, so far, as been pretty conducive. It’s been a bit rainy the past few days, and cloudy, but today the sun is out and the sky is a pale blue with a veil of cloud. I hope it stays this way all day.

I never thought I would be good at gardening… I still don’t. I read up on the plants, I plant the seeds or seedlings, I generally make sure they get watered, and then I wait and watch. It’s still so miraculous to me, watching these things grow. I’m currently growing some mixed varieties of basil in little pots inside until they are hardy enough to move outdoors. Watching the first little leaves make away for the first truly “basil-like” leaves is really cool – it’s like it sends out the first leaves to work as solar panels to get enough energy to start being, truly, “basil.” I love herbs because I love the potential of them – the way they smell, the way they spread out and take over, the idea that I could jut go out an clip a bit and add it to dinner. The fact that I don’t harvest nearly as much or as often as I could (or should?) doesn’t matter to me… it’s just such a cool and beautiful thing. I know, I know, I can dry it/freeze it/pack it in oil or vinegar. But what I love is the aliveness of it, the green, thriving, sun-seekingness of the plants that you just don’t get once they’re dried in a jar.

I’m on my back porch now staring down that goshdarn chipmunk that ate nearly all of our strawberries this year. Finally we had more than just a handful and the pesky critter decides it’ll be the perfect breakfast. I suppose I can’t be too upset. Greg’s philosophy is this: let the whole bed fill with strawberries… then there will be enough for all of us. I like that.

Gardens tend to be meditative spaces. The sound of birds, the colors, the seasons, the smell of earth and water and raw leaf, there’s a lot to get meditative about. I can see why so much poetry comes, as it were, from the earth. And sky. And weather and wind. Mother Nature presents us with perfect images: the darts of sparrows taking flight, the sandy whisper of wind through lush leaves, the way treeshadows move sharply against a house, or softly across grass. Even that wily chipmunk sinking it’s little teeth into a fresh strawberry before wiggling out through the netting. I’ve grown up in suburbia and still live in a suburb and I’ve learned I have to take and love my nature where I can. So though I’m sure my suburban streets covered in a canopy of maple leaves, the smell of freshly cut grass, and the sunsets over the neighboring house can’t compare to nature in the country or on the shore or (as I know from personal experience) up in Maine or in the Southwest or any number of places, I don’t mind. I don’t try to compare it. I simply enjoy it for what it is… my little patch of earth in the middle of town, bird calls mingling with train whistles and traffic. But still: the hush of wind, the bitter smell of tomato leaves, the prickling crumble of dry earth.

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Posted in Meditations |

Bird by Bird

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

birdbybird

If I could find a way to quote this entire book to you without actually having to type it or infringing on all kinds of copyright hooha, I would. It was lying on a table in the used section of the bookstore… and something about the title Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life or the sun-faded checkered cover caught my attention. What did birds have to do with writing and life? The back of the book includes the quote from which the title is derived:

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” (pp 18 –19, Bird by Bird)

Bird. By. Bird. Yes yes yes. (more…)

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Musical inspiration

Monday, July 6th, 2009

My memory likes to play tricks on me. I remember the moment when I realized songs with lyrics were worth listening to, but that moment comes long after I actually began to do a little song writing myself. So maybe that afternoon when I began pulling CD’s out of my father’s cabinet in search of the perfect soundtrack to our high school theater group’s production video, maybe that was just the final push that opened the door to my new found love for music with words. I still enjoy classical, new age, solo piano, acoustic  guitar, Celtic, and world music, but it was taking that moment to really sit down and listen to the words in hopes to line them up with visuals that gave me an excuse to start borrowing even more of my father’s CDs and, years later (fast forward to… a few weeks ago!) to be able to pick out CD’s that we both appreciate.

Considering the fact that my parents’ anniversary gift to us was a coffee maker (we don’t drink coffee… they do), I didn’t feel the least bit guilty in purchasing CDs for Father’s Day that I would then promptly “borrow.” Share and share alike, I always say.

Anyway, having not paid attention to much pop music prior to the age of 18 with the exception of Savage Garden (swoon), most of my developing appreciation came from my Dad’s enormous CD collection (which I had already raided for New Age CDs… don’t judge me). His long time passion was classical music, but more recently his tastes run more towards folk, with a mix of Celtic and Irish, country, and bluegrass. I have distinct musical memories that stretch back: hearing Pachelbel’s canon for the first time; being woken up on Saturday mornings to him blasting something classical or country to get us down for breakfast; Dad quizzing us over dinner as to classical music composers; Mom playing “The Spinning Song” on the piano;  listening to Mary Chapin Carpenter while lying on my stomach on the blue carpet in the living room; discovering Carrie Newcomer’s song “Bare to the Bone”; the Dar Williams and Maura O’Connell soundtrack of my summer while I interned in D.C.; listening to Patty Griffin’s “Living with Ghosts” while waiting for my father’s car to be repaired, the list goes on and on. So Dad, a belated belated father’s day toast, to the man who made me love music and made it a part of my soul and inspiration. I love you!

I have several music memories that deal more specifically with writing. Before I even begin, I can feel the itch to take this post in so many different directions! But this time I will focus on music as inspiration (rather than the writing of music). (more…)

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