Posts tagged ‘song’

December 6, 2011

Re-Writing My Blues

Maybe Hemingway re-wrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms seventeen or thirty-seven times, I don’t know, but I know the torment when a piece of writing is not right. I’m sure he felt mighty good about having almost finished a novel he knew would be widely read, but also that he would feel mighty bad to think he had written an ending to it that was less than his best. At this point I know that my second novel, Blues Pizza, is not my best (indeed, it is my worst). So I feel compelled to fix it. I’m not sure I can and, as a matter of fact, I can’t seem to fix the first two paragraphs of to fit my best standard. If I can’t fix the first two chapters, the whole novel will be forever laid to rest. R.I.T. (Rest In Turmoil). But for now, I’m taking another chance at giving the novel another chance. I’ve cut 12,000 words and made plans to re-arrange all the rest, but first I’m going to re-imagine and re-write those first two chapters if it kills me (or rather, if it kills the novel). I think I’ve re-written the first two paragraphs about thirty-seven times. That’s not quite enough, but it may be close.

There’s a certain satisfaction in playing a blues song well. To crawl into the back-story of the lyrics, to feel the passion there, and then to translate that into notes that fit feels good. It may also hurt, but it’s a good hurt when the played blues liberates the source of my real blues. It’s worth working for, I’d say. Onward.

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October 27, 2011

I Know, a song by Sara Tavares

If I fly, I do not know where
If I walk, not knowing who I am
if I speak, and the voice sounds with the morning
I know . . .
If I drink this light that goes out on me at night,
And if one day I say I no longer want to be here,
Only God knows what he saw,
Only God knows what will be,
There is no other who knows everything that happens to me.
If sorrow is deeper than the pain
If this is no longer the flavor
And to think that all this already I thought
I know . . .
If I drink this light that goes out on me at night,
And if one day I say I no longer want to be here,
the uncertainty of knowing what to do, what to want,
Even without ever thinking that one day you’ll think
There is no other who knows everything that happens to me.

[link to song is here: I Know, a song by Sara Tavares]

June 9, 2011

The music in writing flows from the story itself

I don’t stand in line to buy an album of music I already own. Also, I don’t look for books that read exactly like Chekhov, as good as he was. I want something unique, a story that is specifically a new tune with a different use of harmony, and most of all: with a different rhythm. The only way I know to create such a thing is to find it in myself. My own mind is what I trust to synthesize all those elements in a story to make it all work together. The music comes from the imagined story itself, the words come from that same place. The intellectual mind is important, but not any more important than the sub-conscious or even unconscious parts of the brain. The more of myself I can access to add to a story, the better it will be. Listening to music can help (I listen to Afro-Cuban music while I write my Caribbean story), but writing is its own music so it helps me to hear it aloud . . . and to listen.

June 5, 2011

A rare picture of Tesora using an early 17th Century camera.

A rare picture of Tesora using an early 17th Century camera.

May 26, 2011

If you don’t have the guts to finish a novel, is there another way?

For $12,000 you can get Geoff Dyer to show you how to finish a manuscript. You’ll have to jet to the UK and sit in a classroom for nine months. If all you ended up with was a meandering text-vacation through a Dyer-like brain, was it worth it? For my money nothing exceeds the process of putting ass to chair, pen to paper, and heart to mind. Of course, it won’t get you an advanced diploma in creative writing from UEA, The University of East Anglia, but I don’t remember Scott Fitzgerald needing one to explore his ambition or Willa Cather to explore her American frontiers. The next novel I read had better be something unlike anything I’ve read before. Anything like anything is a waste of time to me. I don’t even like to read fine writers who tend to repeat themselves too much. Someone once said a writer has one basic story to tell. This may emerge through many novels, but still a good writer will make each one new. Whether it’s a muse or a certain gut-feeling that propels the writer, I want, as the reader, to be able to touch that spirit in some way as I read. There should be music between those lines—can you find that in classroom?

April 29, 2011

Of black and white black white black people— Langston Hughes

Daybreak in Alabama
by Langston Hughes

When I get to be a composer
I’m gonna write me some music about
Daybreak in Alabama
And I’m gonna put the purtiest songs in it
Rising out of the ground like a swamp mist
And falling out of heaven like soft dew.
I’m gonna put some tall tall trees in it
And the scent of pine needles
And the smell of red clay after rain
And long red necks
And poppy colored faces
And big brown arms
And the field daisy eyes
Of black and white black white black people
And I’m gonna put white hands
And black hands and brown and yellow hands
And red clay earth hands in it
Touching everybody with kind fingers
And touching each other natural as dew
In that dawn of music when I
Get to be a composer
And write about daybreak
In Alabama.

March 7, 2011

Writing: The Sweetest Curse

Writing is like pro football—you have to work at it until you sweat every day (and, of course, the injuries are more severe).

December 17, 2010

Rock&Roll Song from Skeezer

My new character from the new WIP writes a 24-word chorus about how she feels about her ex. Imagine a speed-punk sound welded to a cut-time reggae romp. No? Do your homework.

Twenty-Nine

Deaf dumb and blind heaven, where are you?
Is there a cloud there, not colored blue?
Can I get a bootless note to save me mind?
When will the bootless boy kiss me behind?

October 15, 2010

Rest in peace, poet Jack Powers

Rest in peace, poet Jack Powers, founder of the Stone Soup Poets. He was the Lou Gehrig of poetry readings—giving a stage for voices of thousands of poets.
My first reading was at his Stone Soup reading in the shadow of the old Charles St. jail. Better to shout out poetry, than to shout down a policeman and end up in the jail. Thanks, Jack.

August 9, 2010

A Song, A Short Story, A Novel, and Incestuous Multimedia

My short story, Late Night Waitress, has been accepted by Wilderness House Literary Review for September. Julia Carlson, the fiction editor, asked for a bio and said I ought to include the info about the music that relates to the story. This story evolved from a ejected chapter from my novel, Blues Pizza. I hope to publish the novel with the songs on CD so readers can listen and read.  The story is built around a songwriter who’s in New York for a session gig and who also has written a song for the band in cutting the record. The actual song, Choosers, is a song I’ve written and recorded. I just put it up on YouTube.
Here:

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