Music vs. Fiction: Music Always Wins #amwriting #songwriting

January has just begun and already I’m in trouble. Choosing to focus on writing and music, I realize I must designate one as the priority because both of them take enormous skill and time and focus to succeed. Sure, I can pursue both, but I must choose which will be number one in my life. I keep returning to this truth for me.

Music always wins. And now I have a separate designated studio in my home, which is great because then the cats can’t chew the wires. 🙂

But songwriting still counts as writing, right? Will that be enough or will I have to fit in fiction, too? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Besides, I can always write fiction during breaks from music because you always need breaks, right? But there are just so many pieces to a song, including vocal warmups, as Shelly Peiken writes about in her latest blog post here.

 

 

Ode to Cecilia (#poem)

Stories of California Missions and Father Junipero Serra
Disneyland fireworks from our childhood era
Beach Boys and Beatles and Screamie Birds groupies
Cecilia and I sang “Hang on Sloopy”

From “sexy scientist” to Las Vegas beautician
She called herself “CeeCee” following her ambition
Sitting next to Alan at the sixth grade spelling bee
On stage I saw green but he was mine, she reassured me

“Cecilia, you’re breaking my heart”
Paul Simon sang years later and many miles apart
About a Patroness for poets, novelists, and musicians
Discovering decades later, it was a year after my audition

Hiding in plain sight God touched my soul
He sent priests and musicians and witnesses and moles
Pursuing me relentlessly for as long as it took
Saint Cecilia leading me to sing and write the book

My Father’s House (#poem)

I slept at my father’s house
But I never saw him at Christmas
How did he decorate with his spouse?
His favorite carols I did not hear or witness
For wanting more, am I such a louse?

He drank coffee at the kitchen table
Reading the morning paper with jam on his chin
I ate his food and listened to fables
He showed me the mountains I would never see again
But nothing more, of that he was not able

No Christmas gifts for me under the tree
No cookies for Santa or Scotch in a glass
Did he celebrate Christmas morning or Christmas Eve?
Or swim in his pool surrounded by grass?
One year I was invited but she did not want me

I slept at my father’s house
For two nights or maybe it was three
High on a mountain away from the lights of town
Why was I a secret, why couldn’t he introduce me?
Was it the other daughter, did she have a breakdown?

So many questions, but the answers are barren
John Wayne was his hero, this I do know
I knocked and I knocked, but I was not let in
The time that we had was something we’d borrowed
Now that he’s gone I sing with the night heron
And the empty space in my heart brings such sorrow

The November Unplugging Experiment

I managed to unplug from social media and blogging for the month of November but I’m not quite sure of the results. Perhaps it’s too soon. But I can say I did more reading, took more classes in electronic music production, learned more songs on my music keyboard, and wrote more lyrics by unplugging.

December finds me halfway across the country in another cross-country move. The new house will give me a casita for a dedicated music studio, which I’m very excited about. This reinforces my belief that I’m supposed to be focusing on music at this stage of my life. I’m certainly being equipped. Now it’s up to me to do the work.

There’s so much more I long to learn and do and accomplish when it comes to music. I’m hungry for it. I’ve got so much lost time to make up for by neglecting it for so many years. I urge you to never give up pursuing your art. But there’s a specific time for everything. Perhaps only now am I ready for this.

And thinking now about how all of you reading this blog and I are connecting in some artistic way inspires me more than I can say.

#Blogtoberfest Day 23: Why I Won’t Be Doing #NaNoWriMo

As hard as I’ve tried to get back into writing fiction – taking a class from the Las Vegas chapter of RWA and reading No Plot, No Problem – to motivate myself to join NaNoWriMo for the month of November, I just can’t do it. I’m too far gone when it comes to music these days and I’m dreaming of upgrading my studio.


(Photo: iPhone snap from Sweeetwater Ad in Electronic Musician magazine)

#Blogtoberfest Day 20: Feeling Like Myself (#poem)

I’m feeling like myself again
Getting in touch with an old friend
One who changed the world around her
One who knew when to stand and when to demur

I’m driving my red Impala girl
1963 in a 70s gas-conserving world
Do I trade it for another
Politically-correct more practical model?

I’m feeling like myself again
Learning new things about who I am
Not just a writer but a poet
My musical ear so strong, I just didn’t know it

We learn about ourselves living life every day
But some things we can only know by knowing our family
Adoption, divorce, embryos, single mothers, and step fathers
Deprive us of a piece of ourselves that really matters

I’m feeling more like myself today

My Favorite Words: Not What You’d Expect

I saw this article about favorite words written by one of my favorite writer friends, Lauren Baratz-Logsted, on Twitter this morning. We were in the same Chick Lit writing group back in the day. Anyway, her post sparked this blog post about my favorite words and why.

I first became aware of having favorite words in the first grade. A classmate of mine named Lucy obviously loved the word “Lucy” because she’d write “Lucy Lucy Lucy” all over the place.

But my favorite words were “said” and “David.” This seemed really strange to me. Why “said?” Why “David?” I liked the sound they made. The beat of the “d.” It wasn’t until I met my father’s family, who happen to all be musicians, especially drummers, that I understood first of all, why I loved the drums so much (“All my kids play the drums,” my father said), and why I loved “said” and “David.” (The story of that meeting was published in Myths of the Fatherless.)

If you listen closely you can hear that “said” and “David” sound like drum beats. So my love for words wasn’t really about being a writer and lover of expressing those words. No my love for words was about the sound they made. The drums. Music. And that’s why I switched from pursuing writing fiction solely to broadening out to songwriting and learning all I can about producing modern Electronic music. So many drums. So many sounds.

April is Writing Month (#NaPoWriMo #CampNaNoWriMo)

I’ve been gearing up for writing 30 poems in 30 days for #NaPoWriMo this April but I’ve just learned of #CampNaNoWriMo (April version of #NaNoWriMo–Novel Writing Month). Something has got to give! After #FAWM (February Album Writing Month), I’ve decided that perhaps I should give my ears a break and write a novel and poetry instead. I can gear back up for 50/90 (50 Songs in 90 Days) from July-October.

I’ve never been a fan of these writing challenges before but, somehow, where I am in life is leading me to loving them.

I’d just joined TAXI, I still have two months of NSAI membership, recently enrolled in a Logic Pro X Music Production class and got some new killer speakers, so I am feeling a bit guilty about putting music aside to focus on other writing. But, I tell myself, it’s only for one month. I still have time for 50/90, and I still have time for the TAXI Road Rally in November.

Let’s see how this year plays out.

Becoming One With Your DAW: Empowering Women in Music Production

I started out with GarageBand and there’s something about it being so approachable, especially for females, that really moved me forward in my music production career. And why I post that quote in my header. More women need to be empowered to engage in this male-dominated industry.

A few outstanding women who have helped me in some way are Dot Bustello, a former Apple employee and Logic Pro expert. She talks about becoming “one with Logic Pro,” because it (or your DAW of choice) is your instrument. You must practice like you would a piano or guitar. I’m still working on this — so much to learn! Logic Pro is what I use most of the time now, although sometimes I still pull up GarageBand to get some tracks down when an idea strikes me. And I’ve also dabbled in Ableton Live and ProTools.

Another female-empowering woman is Berklee Professor Erin Barra who teaches Ableton Live.

And then there’s the Azalea Music Group’s “Empowering Women in Audio Recording & Production Clinic” coming up in Nashville, which looks to be amazing. Wish I could be there!

Rockin’ Like Joan Jett

I don’t know what made me do it, maybe it was listening to the fabulous music on the Music City reality TV show, or maybe it was the rejection email for “She’s Not That Good” proposal, which was a relief because I totally wanted to take the story a different direction, but I started thinking about Joan Jett and how my character should be on that trajectory. I listened to “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” and had to record a bit of chorus as inspiration, thinking rock might be my genre.

In last night’s TAXI TV show with Grammy award winning music producer Rob Chiarelli as guest, my ears perked up when he talked about the stages you go through in your music. That you start imitating some of your favorites before you move onto creating your own music of that calibre. I think I’m still in the imitation phase. My own music isn’t quite there, although “Everybody Lies” is close.

My version, vocals on chorus only, music from free Karaoke site: