Adopted Characters

I haven’t done much freelance writing lately.  Honestly, my focus has pretty much been 100% on getting the new brewery up and going.  That focus, by the way, is not gonna slow for at least a year. With everything I have to do, I do not expect to even open the doors until next fall, and even that will take an awful lot of blood, sweat and tears.

Some opportunities, however, still come up…

Even when I don’t seek them out, I have enough friends and contacts who know what I can do to feed me “snacks” from time to time. Look, when you’re known in certain circles for certain emotional things, the work kinda finds you.

I sometimes wish it didn’t.

A snack came my way recently…one I wish I had refused.  I certainly thought about doing so, but the money…

I was asked to rework an ending for a video game.  It was the “bad” ending, yes, but it still was a prominent part of the game…and one that needed attention.  The money wasn’t great, but it was better than what I get in my only-the-healthcare-matters “real” job, so of course I said yes…

All I needed to do was craft some character notes, and write a suicide note and eulogy.

Fuck.

I did it, of course.  I did it because I always do.  I don’t make promises that I don’t keep.  I wish sometimes that that was not the case, but I always deliver*…

*Not always on time, but I always deliver in the end.

So, I finished it…then I called out from work today and opened a new bottle of scotch.

I also cranked up the music.  A lot of music.  An amount — and volume — of music that I’m fairly certain had my neighbors calling the landlord.

Whatever.

I needed it, both the booze and the music.  They weren’t “my” characters, but I adopted them, and that means I built some feeling for them. They weren’t ”my” characters, but still I broke myself to turn out material that mattered…

Then I went and reminded myself of courage, and what it all really means.

Look, I like blues and rock and a certain amount of folk inspired music.  What I can’t stand is complete country.  I hate “hillbilly” music almost a much as I hate sell-out, commercial shit.  Which means I can’t stand 90% of what is called “country” today…

But, well, sometimes the meaning of the song transcends any categorization.  I’ve mentioned it before, but, well…this particular tune has a story that bears repeating:

I can think of no greater sign of courage, nor of love, than what Steve Earle did with the song below.  He took a song from his son, one that he never saw or heard until after his son’s suicide, and he recorded it.

Dear God, I can’t imagine the kind of strength that took.  When I need to remember courage and devotion and love…yeah, this song is all I really need.

More importantly, when I need to remember just how much art can heal and inspire, all I have to do is think about the story, and listen to this song:

Suspended in My Masquerade

So, I gave some of those young kids from the last post my blog address. Maybe that was a mistake…

The funny thing is that it wasn’t the important bit about cynical manipulation in the last post that drew them, it was my focus & fixation on music that I talked about in other posts. They didn’t care that the grizzled old bastard could make them do whatever the hell he wants…they only cared that he actually listens to music they might like!

A (big) part of me actually really likes that outlook.

Since I’m not in the mood to write a decent post right now, I’m going to oblige the kids. It’s a song…it’s a song I’ve talked about before. It is quite literally the musical version of why & how I write.

Yep, it’s an old song. It’s older than me, actually…but the version I am posting here is solidly from my own life. It is also the best version of this tune that I have yet heard…

By the way…if this doesn’t make you dream and fantasize, nothing will…

Cheers

A warm afternoon, sitting in the sun and listening to music.  Well…and…

Look, I’m sitting in the sun with music blaring in my ears — of course I’m writing, too!

I wasn’t thinking about doing a blog post today, however.  No, today was for stories.  But…

But, there’s always a but, in my life!

I can’t listen to music and not get ideas.  Yeah, yeah…I still have that bit of flashfiction I promised early last week, but that ain’t where this is going.  I still have the image in my head, and I still want to write the piece,* but that ain’t gonna happen today.

*I’ll stake out the parameters now: 400 words, from an image of snow softly falling in the streetlights…

Now, what pulled me away from my first love — from longform storytelling — was a song.  A song that…evoked.

I’ve talked more than once about the ability of music to evoke in the listener emotion and memory and feeling.  From sadness to joy, from nostalgia to hope, from the bitterest regret to the purest hope, music can — and should —  make the listener feel.

Er…kinda like all art…

The writerly aside is, by the way, the same as it ever has been on these blog pages: if your story does not make your reader feel, you’re doin’ it wrong.

Now, I’ve talked before about nostalgia…and about my general aversion to that particular sin.  But, well — yep, there’s yet another but in my life! — that aversion applies more to that brand of nostalgia that makes you…well…sad.  The nostalgia that makes you think back and want.  The nostalgia of what could have been.  The nostalgia of what you have lost, and what you never had.

There is, however, a good kind, too.

There is that nostalgia that makes you think about everything you have done…about everyone you’ve loved…about the world as a place of experience and fun, rather than one of lack and loss…

There is that nostalgia that reminds you of friends who are still there, rather than of those long past…

To make up for the 1,600 word monster-post of last Friday, I’ll keep this one short and close it out here…with, of course, the song that made me think about the ”good” nostalgia.  Forget the specific names and events noted in the song, and just let yourself feel the emotion behind it all.  For me, it brings the memories and emotions of pints of Grimm in the backroom of the brewery…

Of giant margaritas — with extra tequila, of course! — with Sally and Pete and ‘Stina…

Of long nights of stiff drinks and shitty pool at Snug Harbor…

Sorry For The Interruption

Oh, dear God did I need this!

So, yeah, this morning’s post was pretty random and spur of the moment.  It was also written when the temperature was still in single digits.  Those single digits, I should add, have been a freaking high for the last several weeks.  After 25ish years in cold climes, the past couple of weeks mark the first time ever that I’ve had my pipes burst from the damned cold!

But now…

But now!

But now, the sun is shining and things are warming up.  Yeah, the air temperature is still 36 degrees, but you have to remember that I live at five thousand feet.  At this altitude, you quickly learn, direct sun adds 10-20 degrees to the temperature.

So…I’m sitting outside.  I’m sitting outside in shorts and a t-shirt.  I’m also following the greatest wisdom in the world*: I’m drinkin’ wine and eatin’ cheese.

*Thank you, Oddball!

Think back, dear reader…

Think all the way back to this morning…

Remember when I talked about sitting outside as part of that bit about writing?

Oh yeah!

That’s right…I’m sittin’ outside, with my wine and my cheese, and writin’ my ass off.

Oh, and below…for a musical note?  There ain’t many bands who could take a thousand-year-old poem and turn it into a kick-ass song!