Musicians Don’t Blog

Now that I’m focusing on music more than on writing fiction, I have to ask myself, “Should I continue to blog?” It seems that musicians don’t blog. And ever since I switched my focus, I’ve noticed that readers seem to have disappeared. :)

Writers scour the internet looking for tips and anything that will move them forward in writing and publishing and gaining a readership. I’ve now been at it long enough that I seem to be one of the “old-timers.” There are so many new writers out there hungry for information.

But what about musicians? Where are they? Apparently, they’re playing or writing music. Their hands are busy. :)

Yet, I must blog because besides my love for music, I’m also a writer. I chose to focus on writing before and my music was neglected. Now is the time for music.

My current class is about harmony and ear training. I remember my elementary school music teacher calling up my mother and telling her that I must play an instrument. “She has such a good ear for music,” she said. My mother (who is not musical) thought musical instruments were far too expensive, but the teacher insisted the school would provide one.

So what did I choose? The violin. Ugh. Guitars and the Beatles were all the rage but a guitar in music class was unheard of. But the violin and I never clicked. I’d received a small electric organ for my seventh birthday and I loved playing that.

Anyway, there I was in violin class, which I tried to avoid with the excuse that my E string broke when, in fact, the E string was not even in use in class. Ha! And then when my parents watched the Lawrence Welk show, well, whenever they showed the string section I held my breath, hoping my mother wouldn’t ask if I’d practiced that day. :)

I soon moved on to the piano when a neighbor sold theirs to us at a very reasonable price, but I disliked starting out with such boring songs. I regret now that I didn’t stick with it back then. My step dad taught me a few chords on the guitar but sore fingers and the awkwardness of positioning the instrument, well, I soon tossed that aside, too.

I tried playing the piano again when I was in my twenties, but didn’t stick with it. I regret that also. I’m loving it now so maybe I’m just ready. But I have to say, the type of instruction I’m getting is far more relevant and that’s what I needed all along. Or maybe playing the keys in the context of writing music is more appealing to me.

In high school I sang in the choir and performed as a soloist. But after that, my singing was reserved for driving my car with the windows rolled down, radio blasting, and singing in church. People around me complimented me on my voice.

I did join a singing group in my twenties with my ex, but he was super competitive (with me) and totally ruined that. I soon dropped out.

When my super supportive soul mate husband and I moved to Las Vegas, I started taking voice lessons. My vocal coach, who was starring in Mamma Mia!, said I had a great ear for music. There we go again – compliments about my ear. Well, that ear is paying off in this class. The final assignment will be creating a blues riff and I’m looking forward to working on that.

And then back to songwriting class. I think that now that I’ve had this harmony/ear training class that it will move me along in songwriting. And then, of course, music production. It’s far too reminiscent of immersing myself in technology as a technical writer (been doing that far too long and hoping to take a break from that) but it’s important to know how to produce your own music today.

By the end of the year, I hope to have written/produced a real song and along with that, earned a certificate in Modern Musicianship.

And just like The Daring Novelist blogs about her writing progress, so I, too, blog about my music progress. I like her attitude. She inspires me. So I, too, will adopt her motto:

“Daring to live life as a full time writer, with or without success.”

Changing it to read:

“Daring to live life as an artist, with or without success…”

 

The Opposite of Maybe: A Novel

Sandi Kahn Shelton aka Maddie Dawson knows how to create wild and wacky and fascinating characters. This is what I love most about her books. She is a fabulous storyteller, and she knows how to tell a story that many women can relate to. In this case, The Opposite of Maybe hit a little too close to home for me.

In another post, I said that I related more to Jonathan because he was artistic and wasn’t like the average norm. I really don’t think I’m like Rosie, although I understand the story she’s telling. And I’m getting all flummoxed the way the story is heading – that she will not choose the father of the child and will choose the other guy instead. This is what the modern woman is cheering on. I am not.

Beware of the guy hanging around the pregnant woman while her pregnancy hormones are raging.

From The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson:

He gives her a funny smile, and then he pulls her over to him and wraps his arms around her and looks down into her eyes. And then he kisses her. His mouth is warm and insistent on hers, and she feels herself buckle, as if she’d never had a first kiss before. She puts her arms around his neck, and she kisses him back. That’s the most surprising, remarkable thing, she thinks, the way she’s just willing to let herself slide right into this with no fight to her at all. But in her own defense, it has been so long since anybody has kissed her, and she has been watching him for so many days and weeks— his arms, his hands, the way his hair flops. His eyes. Oh God  …   and she has such rampaging pregnancy hormones.

And when she finds out how her mother really left her:

“I wish I didn’t know. I wish you didn’t tell me.”

Soapie looks at her sadly. “I know. I wish I didn’t have to tell you either.”

“Maybe I should have never known. Why did you tell me now?”

“Sometimes we have to know things just because they’re true. And you can handle it now. We both can. It had a hold on us long enough.”

It had a hold on us long enough!

The good news is that the truth finally came out and so the lie can let go of its hold on the relationship. I’m curious to see if her biological father will enter the picture and what he will say.

Will he ask the adult daughter the question he’s longed to know the answer to for most of his life? Will he say, “Why did she do it?” hoping for the impossible answer he needs to hear and wondering if she had ever regretted her decision.

In the end, the story will break my heart. But for most people out there, they’ll rejoice because they believe that romantic love trumps all and to hell with a child needing the security and love of their own father growing up.

 

Anatomy of an Artist

As I shift gears from focusing on writing fiction to writing songs, I’m realizing several truths about the writing world and about myself. My first epiphany today came to me after a Facebook discussion of Don Draper on MadMen. I realized I mostly loved his scenes where he was alone and some song played in the background that really told the story of where he was at in his head.

The second epiphany today came to me while reading Maddie Dawson’s latest novel, The Opposite of Maybe. Forty-something and pregnant Rosie is rehearsing how she’s going to tell Jonathan that he’s going to be a father. Here’s what she says about him:

“He’s artistic and creative. He lives in his own head, which is where he also stores a bunch of numbers and statistics, and that’s why he can’t really do the family thing like other people. It interrupts his head space. He’s actually probably quite brilliant.”

I love this book but I relate more to Jonathan than Rosie and the reason why is that I’m artistic. I’m not like other people or other writers – heck, I may even say that most writers are not artistic – not commercially-successful writers. There are too many necessary anal parts to being a writer.

While writing is a lonely profession, writers are not necessarily loners by nature. I love people but I’m more comfortable people-watching or spending time alone or with two or three special friends. I’m much better sipping wine with a friend and discussing the deeper things of life or even going a little crazy – lol! Somehow this doesn’t translate on Facebook. Not that FB doesn’t serve a purpose – it does – but it’s no substitute for spending time with friends in-person or for contemplative walks in the desert.

That was the real draw to moving back to Las Vegas – the quiet and solitude of the desert. And no matter how much I may wish I was a different type of person – the kind who draws people to them and can write stories like Maddie Dawson that the mainstream crowd can embrace – truth is I am in a much smaller camp of uniquely artistic people and more of a loner than a crowd pleaser.

And I find more satisfaction in music than in writing. With writing, I need readers. But music is something I can enjoy creating for myself.

 

Blog Like You Snapchat

In the early days of blogging – before Facebook, Twitter, and all these social media sites – people came by in numbers and commented on your blog. Back then I was on blogger with my “Chicks Over 40″ blog. Women in theirs 20s, 30s, and 40s loved what I had to say and they praised me with such words as “inspiring.” Wow!

Those were exciting times. Chick lit was hot and I had just acquired an agent for Real Women Wear Red. I thought this was just the beginning. Now it seems more like it was the end – lol! But I keep waiting for it to come full circle.

It’s true it’s not the same these days for the average blogger. There are a gazoodle more blogs these days and other ways to interact with people besides commenting on a blog. I go for “likes” – those are really cool but they don’t always happen either. Sometimes you wonder what the point of blogging is. The point is, you have something to say, you say it, and then let it go… like Snapchat – as a photo disappears, maybe your post does too. Most old posts don’t need to hang around and neither do most neglected blogs. Maybe people will more likely read your posts if it’s for a limited time.

I signed up with a Twitter app that deletes my old tweets after 90 days – I’d like to find something similar on Facebook, although I realize for many people deleting their posts isn’t the point – they’re using it like a photo album, which is exactly what Facebook wants. But there probably is an app out there just for this purpose. In the meantime, I do it manually.

Does the world need an app like Snapchat? Maybe so. Like the article said, people are figuring out that we don’t want or need every little thing we say and do lingering in cyber space. Maybe things are coming full circle because not only was I an early blogger, but I was an early Silicon Valley high-tech… what? One co-worker called me a “seasoned pro.”

But whatever you call me, I see a new, hip high tech company of this generation coming around to how I think. There’s hope yet. :)

 

Music of Memphis and Nashville

Nashville

Another fabulous episode of Nashville last week. As somebody who has been there, I’m talking about the Deacon/Maddie storyline where they recently discovered they are father and daughter, I have to say it’s portrayed so authentically. My father and I have gone through similar emotions – of missing out on a lifelong relationship (see Myths of the Fatherless for my story).

Last week Deacon struggled to come to terms with missing out on his daughter’s childhood and so he confronted Rayna about not telling him. But it all started before that with this confrontation:

 

Memphis

As a beginning songwriter, I’m really tuning into lyrics more than ever, and I totally dig clever lyrics or lyrics that inspire. For example, in Walkin in Memphis, one of hubby’s favorite songs and mine, as well, I love this verse – it’s such a surprise and clever, too.

Now, Muriel plays piano
Every Friday at the Hollywood
And they brought me down to see her
And they asked me if I would
Do a little number
And I sang with all my might
She said, “Tell me are you a Christian, child?”
And I said, “Ma’am, I am tonight!”

It gives me chills. Take a listen.

Walkin in Memphis

Myths of the Fatherless: Truer Than Ever 10 Years Later

The world talks a lot about showing love to people but they also have their own definition of love. The truth is, it’s only by telling people the truth do we show love – not denying truth and enabling people to live a life of lies. And so I’m reposting this now because it becomes truer and truer every day.

cover_myths_150Myths of the Fatherless still sells and I’m pleased by that – especially now that our culture has swung so far from an awareness of this issue that it’s hard to remember the motivation for writing it.

But it all started after we’d first moved to Portland, Oregon from the San Francisco Bay Area 12 years ago. There was an article in the Oregonian about adoption records being opened and some birth mothers were upset by it. I’d often related to the adoption issue because I’d never known my biological father growing up and had been raised by a step dad – a man I thought was my dad until a cousin spilled the beans.

Soon after the Oregonian article, I took more than the few halfhearted steps I’d taken before to find my father. With the help of others, I found my father, we met, and started a relationship ten years ago. All of this gave me insight into the truth I’d been denying and I documented it in Myths…

Hollywood studio executive, author, motivation coach and speaker Libby Gill encouraged me to write the book, telling me that my experience made me an expert on the subject. And so I wrote it, published it, and opened myself up to encourage others to do the same via the “fatherless” blog. But when I look around at our world today, it’s hard to believe any of it was possible.

I was already fighting an uphill battle because the world encourages us to think that bio dads don’t matter, that there’s no issue in being adopted or being raised by a step dad. That was then.

Ten years later our world praises “single moms” as if that’s the goal. I’m thrilled to see single mothers being supported, because, as a woman, I can imagine myself as a single mom. But let’s not think that that’s the goal or the solution.

Ten years later, the world supports adoption for gay couples. Obviously, a child raised by a gay couple is not being raised by his/her biological parents – one at most – but not both. Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wished Their Adopted Parents Knew is a fabulous book about adoption issues.

Ten years later, the world enables people to create high tech babies, to choose an egg donor by physical features and education, to choose a different woman as the surrogate to carry the child, and yet the contract denies that they are “buying genetic material.”

In the spirit of supporting women and gays, we are forgetting the rights of any human child – to know their own parents, if at all possible. I speak from experience and my heart goes out to the children. We are moving so far from supporting these kids in the way they need to be supported and that makes me sad. We are complicating an already complex issue. These kids are going to need our understanding/insights into their issues even more going forward.

Because one thing I’ve learned that is consistent is that many – if not most – of the world’s problems or issues can be traced to a missing or troubled relationship with a father. Because our relationship with our earthly father mirrors our relationship with our Heavenly Father. And those who have experienced this firsthand know this and speak it – I am not alone in speaking out.

Having just returned from the SF Bay Area, where so much of my adult self was formed, I am newly-inspired to create stories on this topic. Often, that’s that’s the underlying topic in my novels, and so I rededicate my writing to this topic.

My first published novel, Real Women Wear Red, reunites a birth mother with her daughter. Their story continues in the sequel – Real Women Sing the Blues. And now I’m writing songs that tell a similar story. One of the songs I’m working on now through my musicianship program is “Advocates in Heaven.”

I can’t wait to share it with you.