Tag Archives: music

Musical Inspiration

MusicI am the type of writer who needs music while writing. It helps elicit moods from me that I want to impart in my writing. It paces my typing (sort of). It drives some of my storylines, especially when I use songs with lyrics that parallel the story. There is never enough music in my day.

I listen to a lot of music. I always have. It vexed my mother to no end when I would refuse to turn off the music while doing my homework. After all, parents were told we were supposed to do homework in a quiet environment. Not me. I needed rhythm. Something to keep my brain from frying while doing geometry proofs or memorizing dates for history.

I love music with a beat that makes me move or propels me forward. I love songwriters who can write in such a way that I react viscerally. I love songs with a meaningful story. I love being transported somewhere else in my head for just a few minutes.

I listened to Goo Goo Dolls’ Dizzy Up The Girl album when I started my book fourteen years ago. I kept it on repeat in the CD player. Once MP3s came out and I got my first iPod, I built a playlist that I have added to through the years. I’ve listened to it so much that I think of those songs as Sara and Jason’s.

I started writing about J.D. and Ari listening to “Why Was It So Easy” by Daryl Hall. When I felt compelled to continue their story, I listened to Depeche Mode’s Violator album. I cannot tell you how many times I listened to it. My playlist grew as the story progressed. The lyrics of the songs used for the titles related to J.D., Ari, or later, Lance’s perspective.

P!nk, Kelly Clarkson, and Avril Lavigne have figured into the background while working on another story. I find their music empowering for females, especially P!nk. It’s not often you find a female artist going back to the theme of loving yourself as you are and your true worth, a message one of my characters needs to discover.

I am still trying to find my musical inspiration for NaNoWriMo. For now, it is Butch Walker.

Butch Walker at A&R Music Bar, 11/3/13

Butch Walker at A&R Music Bar, 11/3/13

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Posted by on November 8, 2013 in Uncategorized


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A Writer Must Write

Hemingway’s typewriter.
Hemingway House, Key West, Florida

There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.” ~Ernest Hemingway

There was a time when my dream was to be an Olympic gymnast.  As a young gymnast watching her score a perfect 10 in the Olympics, how could I not?  My teenage/young adult years brought the dream of writing a book on the New York Bestseller list.

I live in my head most of the time.  Imaginary scenes.  Pictures of short actions that lead to a line or two of poetry.  Dialogue between characters.  Writing is how I get it all out to make room for more.  I think all the dialogues I have running through my head helps me write good dialogue.  Okay, I think it’s bloody brilliant, but what I think and what others think are two different things.  At least a creative writing professor I had in college acknowledged that skill of mine.  *patting self on back*

I am burning the midnight oil a lot lately.  I am somehow functioning well on 4 to 6 hours of sleep a night.  Which is not usual for me.  I’m typically a zombie without at least 8 hours.  I keep telling myself I have to stop, but that is when all the words for the images I have in my head start swirling around and I need to get them out before I lose them.  Any writer will tell you that if they don’t get it out and in black in white, they lose it.  It’s true.  I always keep some kind of notebook with me in case a line or two comes to me when I’m away from home and my laptop.

This is how I was in high school, college and post-college.  I would sit for hours in the dark late a night with a notebook or in front of my typewriter or computer.  Sometimes things would come to me fast and free.  Sometimes I’d just stare.

My dormmates my Freshman year of college would tease me.  We often left our doors open so we could drop in on each other.  My desk was right next to the door and if I was in creative mode I would be sitting cross-legged at my desk, Walkman on, and staring at a lit candle I kept on my desk.  It didn’t matter what time of day it was or how hot and humid it was, that candle was lit and I was in a zone.  They called it the Light of Knowledge.

The Light of Knowledge

I no longer feel the need for a lit candle while being creative.  Honestly, I don’t have room for one where I have my laptop set up.  It would be either a candle or a glass of water.  I’ve moved away from always sitting in the dark, as well.  Yesterday I sat here pretty much all day working on my book.  And of course, it came much more easier once Chaz was in bed and the world outside settled down.

There are times I want to venture out into the world with the purpose to draw inspiration from the people around me.  I spent a lot of time at a coffee shop around the corner from us before moving to Cincinnati.  I normally went on my days off and spent a few hours there just writing.  Sometimes reading.  Some early weekend mornings I would steal away there for some time while Chaz was still sleeping.  Some days I would get inspiration at my desk and decide to go there after work for an hour or two.

This spawned a little experiment Silly Sissy and I started. We call it Sketch-2-Sketch.  I write and post a character sketch and Silly Sissy takes it and turns it into a visual sketch.  It was a way for both of us to hone our skills.  We haven’t done it in a while.  Things were crazy after moving to Cincinnati with my job and not having much energy to really observe the way I was before.  I’m bugging her as I type this up.  I’m a multi-tasker like that.

There is one constant to my writing.  I need music.  It compels me forward.  Even if it takes two songs between sentences, the music drives my labor of love, especially now.  I must have listened to the Dizzy Up the Girl CD by Goo Goo Dolls a million times when I first started writing my book over a decade ago.  If I had it on vinyl or cassette tape, it would be dust by now.  And that was before mp3 players.  Now I have a playlist that is about 2 1/2 hours long that stays on repeat.  I add a song here and there.  One that pulls at me and I have to listen to over and over again because of the emotion I’m drawing from it.

I am finding myself drawn to my laptop lately to tap out word after word of this story that has swum around in my head for years.  My body buzzes and I have butterflies in my stomach while sitting here.  It’ll like I’m in love and I came to the realization yesterday that I am right where I need to be.  Every sign in front of me keeps confirming it.  I may never make the New York Bestseller list.  I realize that and I’m okay with it.  The success here is that I finish this book whether it sees the light of day or not.

The writer must write what he has to say, not speak it.” ~Ernest Hemingway


Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Chaz and my uncles doing a little kanikapila

I planned on doing a post about martial arts.  But, I heard a bit of Moonlight Sonata at work and realized I wanted to write about music more than I wanted to write about martial arts.  Especially since I used one of my Aikido experiences in yesterday’s post.

I grew up with music.  My uncles always played and sang for me when I was little.  They still accede to my repeated song requests when we are all together.  I remember falling asleep around campfires with them singing and playing.  For a long time, I needed music to fall asleep.  It relaxed me.  Except for when insomnia took over my body.  That’s a story for another time.

I sang in church choirs, worship teams, and did a few special music solos.  I even co-directed children’s choirs.  In 5th grade, a friend presented me with the opportunity to buy a used flute from a relative of his so I could join the band.  And by band, I mean there were about 10 of us learning how to play our respective instruments.

Me, Stick, and some fellow band geeks at our min-reunion in 2009

I kept up with it and stayed in band all through high school.  I wasn’t the best.  I wasn’t the worst.  But, I had a lot of fun.  Heck, I met my best friend in band.  What could be better than that?

I took piano lessons my senior year in high school and did much better than I expected to.  Playing the flute for 6 years gave me an advantage over my brother, sisters, and mother, who all took lessons at the same time.  My teacher didn’t have to teach me how to read music at all.  She just had to teach me how to read bass clef, which wasn’t that difficult.  I now have a keyboard which I’ll sit down at and try to plunk out some tunes.  I even tried to learn Bella’s Lullaby when I finally got my hands on the sheet music for me.

Playing music and singing definitely gave me a better appreciation for music.  Of all genres.  I admit I still have a hard time stomaching Country and Rap/Hip Hop.  I can do old school rap.  In my head, that’s real rap.  Not the stuff you hear these days.  There are a few gems in those areas though.  I know them when I hear them.

I dabbled with writing music with a couple of my friends during my college and post-college years.  Both of them were musicians and friends from church.  One of them I affectionately called, “My male self.”  Silver was just like me only he was a guy.  We were so alike, we could finish each other’s sentences.  This made writing music with him easy.  We were even in a short lived band together.  Like most bands, at least one ego got in the way and implosion ensued.

Jack Johnson and Eddie Vedder, Kokua Festival 2007

I love listening to music.  Like food, I have memories associated with certain songs.  Most of us do.  I get lost sometimes while listening to music.  I lose track of time if I have it on while writing, reading, or crafting.  If I’m just sitting and listening, I let my mind wander.  Last Summer, we were out to dinner with Exodus and H enjoying each other’s company and some Spanish food.  If I remember correctly, we all ordered some version of the restaurant’s paella.  Good stuff.  There was a live musician playing guitar.  After dinner, my mind was wandering with the music.  One particular song had me envisioning Russians chasing other Russians down a cobblestone road.  Inspiration for a poem?  I pulled out my little notebook and wrote down what I was thinking and put it away.  I haven’t had quite the inspiration to finish it out.

I completely love drums.  In marching band, I loved when our director would let our drum section do a fun cadence while we were marching.  There is some about cadence that I find mesmerizing.  Then, there is taiko.  Almost like cadence and just as mesmerizing.  We are fortunate to have seen several taiko companies at the St. Louis Japanese Festivals as well as local festivals in Kentucky and Cincinnati.  Blows me away every time.

Wilco doing California Stars

I’ve attended many concerts.  Not as many as some of your reading this or maybe more than some of you.  My first being Jan & Dean.  Great concert at the L.A. Zoo.  There was Van Halen for the OU812 tour for Stick’s birthday.  Good times.  I even braved Bonnaroo in 2009.  I really wanted to see Nine Inch Nails and Beastie Boys.  There was also Wilco, The Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, and Lucinda Williams.  Chaz, Exodus, and Heath went to Bonnaroo together a few times before.  They were all about Phish.  I just had a problem with the group next to us toking every half an hour on the dot.  I’m not talking every 30 minutes after they finished one.  Every 30 minutes.  I told the guys that they either weren’t inhaling right or they had some bad weed.  That got a little chuckle.  The Boss was a big draw, too.  I wasn’t so impressed.  He came out with a bang, then lulled me for about an hour or so.  I was really close to falling asleep when he came back with some of his oldies, but goodies.  At least it was an experience I can say I lived through.

Me, Ed Kowalczyk of Live, and a bunch of strangers

I don’t consider myself a fanatic about any band (except maybe Duran Duran when I was a teen) or artist that I like, but I am a fan.  I don’t go looking for ways to get backstage passes or go out of my way trying to meet them.  Heck, I had a chance to meet Jason Scott Lee after seeing him in a local play back home but I didn’t want to come off as a crazy fan.  And I probably would have seeing as I nearly drooled over him during the entire play.  Back to my point.  I happened to win passes to meet Ed Kowalczyk from Live, 5 years ago.  The radio station I listened to in Louisville would put on loyal listener shows.  I happened to enter online nothing thinking anything of it because I had done so for other loyal listener shows and hadn’t won.  Imagine my surprise when I got an email saying I won!  There was supposed to be a meet and greet time, but because of Ed’s schedule, they changed things up.  He autographed all our passes ahead of time (a good thing since I left my CD in the car) and after the show we did group pictures rather than individual.  Lucky me got to stand right next to him.  He put his arm around me and so I put mine on his back.  Then the thought hit me, I’m touching a sweaty rock star!  That will likely never happen again.  So I enjoyed while I could.

I’ve seen Michael W. Smith a couple of times.  I always feel good during his shows.  The last time I saw him, I went with a friend and one of her friends.  I happened to get really good seats for the show and we were in heaven.  So close to the stage that we could feel the energy Smitty was giving off.  Jack Johnson is another repeat.  If you haven’t been to a show, it’s like a massive kanikapila.  The band is playing, he’s singing, and EVERYONE else is singing along with him.  It’s like being home.

Exodus, Chaz, T, & H aka The Mediocre All Stars

That’s what it always comes back to.  The music I grew up with.  Sitting around with guitars and ukes.  Totally unplugged.  It gives me joy that Chaz can join in on the kanikapila with my uncles.  He has an amazing voice which has me and our friends yelling, “BOOOO!  You’re not Chaz!” when we hear a song on the radio that he covers.  If anyone can do a song better than the original artist, it’s Chaz.  I’d say I’m biased, but I’m not the only one that thinks that.  He can belt out Like A Stone better than Chris Cornell.  In fact, when he was learning it, I sometimes had to close the door because it was driving me nuts.  We had a smaller apartment back then.  When he finally performed it on Second Life, he blew me away.  I could not believe it.  He’s wowed an entire live crowd at a benefit show.  The guys in the band said it was because the band before them was spectacularly horrible.  So horrible, I almost had to go outside until they were done.  It wasn’t simply because the band before was so off-key.  It was because they were so amazing.  Despite the name they gave themselves, they are anything but mediocre.  It’s a case of 4 humble guys just playing music together.

Music makes my heart sing and that is all there is to it.  Especially when it’s my loved ones singing and/or playing.

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Posted by on April 15, 2011 in Uncategorized


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