It is with a light sorrow that I write this post today. I have just a few minutes ago learned of the passing of a musical artist who produced in the independent realm of music. This is an appropriate time for me to express the importance of how music interlinks with my writing process, something I’ve always wanted to write about.
Last year, I happened upon a piece of profound music while streaming online. The artist was Marjorie de Muynck, a Santa Fe based musician who produced “sound healing” work through music. I purchased her CD that became the inner soundtrack for a piece of writing that has now evolved into novel. I was told that it is always good practice for a writer to thank other artists who offer inspiration so that they can hear from others in the world who appreciate what they do. Since I had yet to even get going on the inspired writing in a serious way, I thought I would wait to contact Marjorie when the project was underway. Today was that day, and while I searched for her email to write to her, I learned I was two months too late.
I’m not sure if its coincidence or not, but the piece of work that has evolved into a novel inspired by Marjorie’s music is the e-book I plan to publish at the end of the month, a decision I just made only a couple of weeks ago. That novel has morphed into a trilogy, an endeavor I never imagined I would take on, however, the work gives birth to itself. Marjorie’s music has played an integral part in all of this.
Every piece of writing in my world is always accompanied by its own choice of music. I say “its own choice” because there is a magical quality of how a story and a certain piece of music can work in concert to transport me into the world my writing creates. It is as if the music and the story have chosen one another, creating its own symphony, and I act merely as the tool to put pen to paper. Most often, it may only be one or two pieces of music that I will stumble upon that will carry me through weeks or months of writing one story. This is all I need to transport me into the world of the fictive dream, the experience where time ceases to exist, the “zone” as I call it.
I don’t usually divulge my musical inspirations, as I find it a private matter, at least until the work is out in the world. However, I felt moved today to open up a little, and to remind myself on a bigger level how important it is to not put aside or procrastinate an offering of thanks or generous words to those who have inspired me, whether it be another writer, artist, or someone in my personal circle. If you are moved by someone’s work in a profound way, let them know. You’d be surprised how a few words could make an artist feel good about the work that they’re doing. Maybe your letter will catch them on a down day, and wind up turning their day around. And this is not something contrived. I’ll end with a short story to prove this.
When I was in grad school, I had just begun to write my first novel. Each month, I had to submit excerpts of the novel to my faculty advisor. I won’t divulge her name, but she is a well known writer whom I was told is one tough cookie to have as a critic. One particular month, I submitted an excerpt of my novel to her. She was delayed in sending me back my work with editorial comments as she had been quite ill (I didn’t know that. I thought maybe my writing had sucked big time). When she finally mailed my work back to me, she called me and told me that she had spent an afternoon with a bad headache in bed and my work was the last for her to edit. She didn’t wish to do it at all, but she forced herself to read the 40-50 pages I had written. Not only did she read the entire thing, she told me her headache went away, and that she loved the writing that jolted her awake. She was the first successful, veteran writer to tell me that my writing made her day. Those generous words made my day, and even now, inspires me to keep writing.
So if there is an artist out there, whether it be a writer, musician, painter, that inspires you or your work, or both, let them know.
For those of you who read or followed my first blog, I thank you. For those who are visiting for this blog for the first time, welcome. I’m no where near an expert on web design, but I think this blog looks pretty cool for graphics that came together kind of by accident. Trust me, it took 5 hours to chance upon the unexpected, finished result.
I started my first blog simply because I was told that’s what a writer does in the 21st century. I was seriously resistant at first, but then, if anything, it kept me writing, and to my surprise, people kept reading. As of last week, to the tune of almost over 900 views. Not bad for my first time. People read even though I was elsewhere.
Life happened, I moved, and I stopped writing the blog. Unlike fiction, the calling that seems to capture me, and hold me still, despite life’s tugging and whirling, writing the blog didn’t have that power to keep me. As I got space from it, I felt my blog writing was random, routine, and lacked depth. The experience of writing has never been that for me, and it took several months for me to realize that a return to sharing my writing journey had to have the same qualities that keeps me writing—inspiration, discovery, focus, and direction.
During the last several months, I’ve had a chance to really sit with how to move forward as I start my writing career. I graduated school right when the economy tanked. The few agents I did query, with the exception of one, wrote back that they didn’t have time to look at my submissions due to the incoming volume. A few publishing houses closed altogether. One agent actually liked my story, but stated she wasn’t sure how to market my novel. Even though I only queried a few, my energy was drained with the worry of establishing my life as a new college grad in a very different world than before I went to college. It wasn’t the world writer John Gardner advised to get the teaching job with the Master’s degree, the guaranteed paycheck, to support the new writer. This was a world where I had to knock on 50 doors just to get an interview, and 50 more just to get, not a teaching job, but an office job. This was the world I focused on, and for a short while, I stepped away from the writing. But not for long…
Since graduation, I’ve had to recover, recalibrate, reorient, and now, re-invent my path as a writer. I’ve learned the road is one you pave, and if you’re skillful, extra hands will help with the paving, and even help to clear the way.
Next month, my second written novel will be published. Tomorrow, the writing here will be the first of many days that will chronicle this endeavor. Some may think I’m crazy, which I won’t deny. Others will and still find me the adventurer. No argument there either. I had always hoped that my writing would inspire. Now, I see, it is the journey of the writer that also inspires.