The End of Music Week…For Now.

Music has always meant a great deal to me. As Cindy told you, I believe that music is a more complete form of communication.

Music has also brought me some of the best things this life has to offer. I met my husband and my best friend in high school band. These relationships are two of the most important gifts that music has afforded me.

But there are others…

I have memories of my grandmother playing her guitar as our whole family sang, “You Are My Sunshine.”

I have memories of Cindy and I playing Christmas Carols on our flutes for our families one year. We went to her grandparent’s home to play for them. I received a phone call the next day from her letting me know that her grandfather had passed. I was so relieved that she had been able to spend a few moments with him…something she may not have done had we not gone Caroling that year.

I remember tours to Canada and California with the band in the spring. Some of my favorite memories are from those trips.

There are certain hymns that never fail to bring peace to my spirit and provide hope when I feel that all is lost.

Without music, I don’t think I would have met my husband, I would have missed out on raising four amazing children with him. I wouldn’t have met Cindy, my kindred spirit, and we wouldn’t have this group. Yes indeed, music has brought me so much joy!

Below you will find a song and a scene that I wrote for a book that our group is writing. I hope you enjoy reading it with music as much as I enjoyed writing it with music.

Exhausted, Heather cuddled the newborn in her arms and gazed into his gray-blue eyes; the wisdom of innocence gazing back at her. Whenever one of her children had been placed in her arms she always had an immediate rush of unconditional love that opened a new and surprising place in her heart. She knew this tiny being! He was brand new and to anyone else he would be an enigma, to her he was just as he should be and she knew him perfectly.

She looked expectantly at her bedroom door. David should have been back with Frank long ago. The baby had only waited for about 20 minutes after David left to get him. She was sorry that Frank had missed the delivery, but reveled in the quiet solitude with her sleeping infant.

The baby in her arms squirmed and then went back to sleep. She wanted to shower while the baby slept but fatigue was dictating her actions and she decided to stay in bed with her new baby boy.

She could hear Janet, with her four other children playing some game that involved cleaning up the toys. “Okay Pirates,” she was saying to the younger two “Let’s clean up the um..uh…starboard side and then I’ll make you peanut butter sandwiches in the galley.”

“I don’t want to be a pirate,” said Eleanor. “I want to be a princess,” her six year old desires asserting themselves.

“Maybe you can be the princess that us pirates have kidnapped,” said Mary. Heather was always grateful for her oldest daughter. Mary had an intuition about people that allowed her to smooth over almost any situation.

“Then I don’t think I should have to clean up,” Eleanor said. “If I’ve been kidnapped, I would be locked in my room.”

Heather giggled.

“I know why you want to be in your room,“ Tim yelled angrily. “Your room is already clean and all of your toys are in there. That’s not fair!”

Mary’s soothing voice followed, “Well, maybe we’ve made you our slave and since you’re a princess we will be kind to you and give you princess chores. For example, I think princesses would like to have a clean table and our princess has been playing with clay for a long time. Look at all the clay on the table in the play room! What if you wiped off the table? That seems like a princess thing to do and I will put the clay in the tubs.”

“Get me the princess rag.” Eleanor said empirically to someone. They must have complied because after a few moments Heather could hear the kitchen sink running as if someone were getting the rag ready for her.

“You have quite a club to join,” she cooed to the new baby.

The front door opened and then she heard it slam closed. Frank couldn’t be angry that he missed the delivery, could he? After four deliveries he should know these things happen whenever nature dictates.

“Everything went fine. Both of them are in your bedroom resting.” Janet said. “Congratulations!”

There was a muffled response from Frank and then her bedroom door opened slowly and he peered in.

“Hi Honey! Baby Patrick is here!” Heather grinned at her husband.

David entered her bedroom behind him, obviously uncomfortable.

“I’ll just go home now; this was more than I bargained for when I came to pick up your manuscript.” He forced a smile. “I need a drink. I’ll come see the baby next week; I’ll get your manuscript then. You need to just be a family right now.” He caught Franks eye and gave him a stern, angry look. He left, slamming the door behind him.

Heather could only puzzle over his anger for a moment before Frank was next to her caressing their newest son.

“Here,” she said, “you two should meet properly.” She handed him the sleeping infant.

Frank sat in the rocking chair next to their bed and rocked the baby in silence.

Heather stretched and then got out of bed. Her fatigue was fading and she knew she should take advantage of any energy she had. She was sore, but movement made her feel useful and she knew it would help the healing process. She assessed the damage to the bed. Thanks to the midwife it was minimal and she removed the sheets to take them to the washer.

“Can you keep an eye on him for a minute? I’m going to run these to the wash, if I do it now they won’t stain.” She was met with silence.

She turned to the rocking chair. Frank was gazing down at his son in his arms. Tears were streaming down his face and his shoulders shook with silent sobs.

“Frank?…Are you okay?”

“I…I have something I need to talk to you about.” His voice wavered as he spoke. She had never seen him this upset.

“What? What’s wrong?”

“Heather.”

She didn’t know if it was intuition, God, Fate or something else, but in the way he said her name all of her worst fears were confirmed. She realized she had known what he was about to tell her for a very long time.

“I’ve been seeing someone.”

The silence lingered like a bad odor in the room. Heather experienced a strange mixture of emotion. Anger and sadness were expected; she knew she would feel those when he finally told her the truth. Unexpected emotions also revealed themselves; satisfaction at having known for months, fear at what the future held, relief for everything being in the open, pity for Frank and herself, and was that humor? Strangely, that’s the emotion that surfaced. Her laughter stunned both of them.

“Does she know that you are afraid of spiders?” She paused as if she were expecting an answer. “Have you been to the movies with her? Does she know how many times you get up to use the bathroom because you refuse to get a small drink? Or that you can’t ever read the word “debris” on the first try? Has she seen your underwear at the end of the day?” She continued to giggle and shake her head as she thought of all the things that had surprised or annoyed her during their 16 year marriage.

Frank’s face showed that he wasn’t quite sure how to react to her sudden laughter.

“Heather, I’m serious.”

“I know you are. I’ve known for a long time that something was wrong.” She stopped laughing and let sadness take its appropriate place. It slowly seeped into her heart as she began to think of the impact this news would have on her life-and the lives of her children. She quickly pushed images of her father packing his things into the back of his car out of her mind. She hadn’t made that decision…not yet.

“I’m so sorry,” he whispered

“How long?” her voice was quiet and calm.

“For about two years.”

“Who is she?”

“I met her at the auto supply store. She used to work there.”

“That’s where you were just now, isn’t it.” This was not a question. Heather now understood David’s anger.

“Yes.” His answer was so quiet that it took her a moment to realize he had spoken.

“David had to track you down to her house?”

“Yes.”

“Do you love her?”

“No.”

“Then why?”

“I don’t know.” He stroked the baby’s fine, soft hair.

“Is this the first time?”

She waited through a long pause, “No.”

“The first time was about four years ago…right after I had Robert?”

Frank looked at her shocked. “How did you know?”

“Intuition. I gained a lot of weight with him. You told me you weren’t attracted to me anymore. But that wasn’t all of it, Frank. I knew there was something else. You had this deep disdain for me. You made me think the problem in our marriage was my fault and I couldn’t figure out how or what I had done. I didn’t understand your contempt for me. It made no sense…until now.”

Frank sat in silence.

“You stopped seeing her after about a year?”

“Yes.”

Heather just nodded as if this was the answer she was expecting. “Are those the only two times?”

“Yes.”

“But there were other things that happened. Before I mean. Whether you slept with the women or not, you were not totally faithful.” She rolled up the sheets and threw them into the corner making space for her to lie on the bed. Standing was getting painful.

“I don’t know about not being faithful, but I have had female friends…you know…at work. Heather, I didn’t understand what I was doing until today. I didn’t realize the impact my actions would have on my family. It was never serious to me. Never. I have always loved you. Please, forgive me. I know I need to do some work, but please forgive me. David…when he saw me…he said…” He began to sob again.

Heather could only sit and watch him in silence as he held his youngest child. She realized that she had begun detaching herself from him months ago.

“I…need to think and right now is not the time for me to make this decision. I need time to process everything. A lot of things have happened in our marriage. I just don’t know…”

“What don’t you know? Please, please don’t tear apart our family over this.”

“Me? Me destroy the family? The family may already be destroyed!” Now anger showed up, white hot, it stung Heather with fiery tentacles. “I’m simply deciding whether I want to be your wife, whether I trust you. And you need to decide what is important to you.” She realized that she had been yelling and made an effort to calm her voice. “Do you want to keep living like this or are you going to get help? This..what you have done…is a symptom of a problem. There is something wrong. You need help. And I need to decide what is best for the children…and for me.”

She gently took the baby from him and walked out of the room, closing the door behind her. Leaning against the wooden door frame to steady her shaking knees, she focused on the fast-paced breathing of her child. She let the pain slip into a hidden part of her heart. She straightened herself and walked to the kitchen to introduce the children to their new baby brother, leaving her husband and the dirty laundry behind her.

Fragment Friday- Contradictions

Hey readers!

I am very excited about this post.

Its Music Week, AND Fragment Friday, AND its my turn to share some fiction! 

I decided to write something new, just for this post. I’ve been in a bit of a writing funk lately, and this was just the ticket to bring me out of it.This piece is from my (very distant future) book, The Lyrics. This scene, combined with Ed Sheeran’s Give Me Love is a good example of when I hear a song, and it moves me, speaks to the Muse, and fits my characters so perfectly I decide to actually write the song into the story.

One more thing before you dive in. This piece is a little long (Read; it needs editing.) It’s rough, it rambles a little, and it’s probably not the best representation of my writing style. (Read: I finished it last night at 11:39pm.) But it’s fresh, its pure and raw, and that’s what we’re shooting for here on WTF.

If you have comments, questions, complaints, I’d love to hear it all. Help me make it better. We’re all about the feedback!

Hope you enjoy.  ~Cindy

The Lyrics  Chapter 22 – Contradictions

The droning voices and incessant, cacophonic noise of the Karaoke machine finally ceased, and now a 50’s style song pulsed over the bar with a purposeful beat.

Stacey wasn’t on the stage anymore, and she hadn’t gone back to the crowded table of women—Sam could only assume they were dancers, covered in makeup and casting sparks of light around the room with their sequin-covered breasts. When he’d first caught sight of her, bare-faced and wearing a soft-pink hooded sweatshirt and jeans, he was grateful. Rising fame and palpable heartbreak hadn’t changed her yet. That’s it, keep fighting it, baby.

He wandered through the club, trying not to breathe in the scent of alcohol, trying to shut out the sound of ice clinking in thick glasses. He maneuvered around a crowd of women chatting on the dance floor, averted his eyes away from the bartender and made his way toward the back door, propped open. He somehow knew he’d find her there. He drew in a breath.

He could only see the silhouette of her, and she wasn’t facing him. But there was no doubt it was Stacey. She was leaning against the railing and dangling a half-empty thoughtful silhouettebeer bottle over the edge. He hesitated in the doorway, watching the way the flat lamplight bounced off her hair, casting an amber glow onto her nose and cheeks. It was possible, with every subsequent heartbreak she grew a little sadder, a little less sure of herself, and a little more beautiful. She leaned her head back and took a gulp from the bottle. He half smiled, watching her try not to cringe as she swallowed it.

“Hey,” he said, still inside the open door. She whipped her head around but didn’t move in any other way, so that a length of her brown hair swept under her chin, like a fine silk scarf. He could see her throat muscles move as she swallowed so she could speak.

“Sam?” Her eyes widened. “What are you doing here? I haven’t seen you since…I thought you were still in London.”

“I thought you didn’t drink beer,” he said, ignoring her question.

“I don’t.” She swirled the bottle around, looking through the hole at the liquid inside instead of him. “How long have you been here?”

“Long enough,” he said, When he saw her swallow hard and close her eyes, he wished he’d found another way to say it. She laughed sardonically and shook her head.

“That figures. It’s like I’m always finding new ways to humiliate myself.” He started to shake his head but she went on before he could think of what to say. “Cry about my dipshit ex in front of a famous director, a room full of theater critics. Come to find out it was in front of my best friend too. Typical.” Her words stung at him, and he wasn’t sure if it was because he didn’t like being referred to as her best friend, or because he didn’t feel like he’d been any sort of friend, to her or anyone. Not for the past six months anyway.

“Hey,” he said, placing his hand on her arm. “You didn’t do anything except not sing Karaoke. I’m not saying you’re bad, but that’s no crime.” He grinned, but she didn’t smile back. “Ok…so you watched Jake make an ass of himself on national television.  So what? Anyway, you have to know it isn’t true. All that chatter about his broken heart and making babies. It’s bloody nonsense.”

“You mean he made it up? Why?”

“Come on Stace. You’ve gotta know by now— he isn’t above feeding fiction to the press for publicity. It’s part of the game. We do it all the time.”

You don’t,” she said arguably, swirling the beer bottle around so it made a swishing noise. “I don’t.

“Well that’s because you and I—” he paused, wanting those words to slide easily across his tongue and out of his mouth and into the air again. “You and I…” he hesitated.. She turned and looked at him expectantly. “Well. We have a mutual understanding that any publicity is bad publicity.” Her face warmed, she smiled slightly. She was standing next to him now, her arm touching his.

“Tell me why it matters to me Sam,” she said, still swinging the beer bottle and gazing upward. “I wasted five years of my life waiting for Jake. He obviously wants fame more than he wants me. So what do I care if he’s out there, leading someone else on?” Beer on railing

Damn. He’d hoped that things would be different now, that she wouldn’t want to talk about Jake, that she’d no longer regard him as the middle-man. It was that one hope that gave him the courage to walk through the door of that bar. He wanted to pull her into his arms. Even more than he wanted to go to the bar and order a Scotch, even more than he wanted to find that bastard he used to regard as his only confidante and send him through a wall. More than all of it, he wanted to hold her. But he didn’t. He couldn’t.

“Because,” he said instead, forcing out words. “You gave it your all, and it’s tough to stop that momentum.” He swallowed hard. “Because your heart’s still in it.” He wasn’t saying it: The truth that hovered between them like the smoke in the air. Because you’re still in love with him.

She sighed and tipped her head so it touched his shoulder. He didn’t move. She sniffed a few times. She’s crying, he thought.  Suddenly her arm was moving around his waist. He started to hug her, but she reached into his jacket pocket and thrust a carton of cigarettes into the space between them.

“I thought you quit,” she said, her brown eyes flickering.

“I did,” he said, squinting and scratching behind his ear. She opened the carton. One missing. She eyed him for a few minutes, quiet scrutiny on her brow. He waited for her to ask if he’d been drinking. At least then he could say no, and it would be true, and he could be honest about something. But she didn’t ask. She pushed the cigarettes back into his pocket and gave him a weak smile.

“You and I…” she said, shaking her head and reaching for her beer. “At least we’re mutually ridiculous.” She took another long swallow and balanced the bottle on the railing, then opened her arms to embrace him. He lifted his to let her in, and she tucked her head under his chin. He closed his eyes.

hug “I don’t know why you’re here Sam.” Her voice was muffled by his jacket. “I probably don’t want to know why you’re at a bar, in L.A., at midnight. And this is probably really selfish… but I’m glad. I needed a friendly face.”

He hated the way she’d said it. A friendly face. Those words made it clear that things were not different. Time and distance had not changed anything. Up until now he’d been telling himself he’d changed inside and out since the last time he saw her. And maybe he had. But he was still the man she needed without being the man she wanted.

The smoke and the noise from inside the bar drifted out the back door and into the atmosphere, disappearing into the long, waving fingers of palm fronds. Bouts of laughter from the tables inside rose above the murmurs of flattery and pick-up lines, the publicized beginnings of one-night-stands. The music overhead changed from 50’s-pop into something contemporary; novel, with a softer beat. There was a bit of sorrow in the singer’s voice that rung familiar in Sam’s ears. The voice sounded subtly British, not unlike his own, and the lyrics floated out into the night air.

Give me love like her
Cause lately I’ve been waking up alone
Paint splatted teardrops on my shirt.
I told you I’d let them go…
And that I’ll fight my corner.
Maybe tonight I’ll call you
After my blood turns into alcohol.

A couple came onto the patio holding hands. They kissed. Sam watched them for a long time. They started to dance. Don’t, a voice in his head urged. It’s too much. It’s too soon. 

“You wanta dance?” he said, ignoring it.

“I thought you didn’t dance.” She pulled out of his arms and gave him a weak smile.

“I don’t,” he said. She grinned. The realness, the sweetness of it on her lips made him want to tell her. Everything. That he’d been waiting for her to stop reaching for the unreachable. That all the imperfections Jake saw in her were what made her…so bloody perfect. But he couldn’t find a way to make those words into anything outside his own head. Instead, he managed:

“But it seems to be a night of contradictions.”

She laughed, the breathy, soprano notes of her laughter ringing in his ears, and he tried hard to memorize it. He’d forgotten that laugh, how it made him feel: Unafraid.

“You’re right,” she held out her hand.  “I’d love to.”

**********

Hello, you beautiful reader you. If you made it this far, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. If you’re interested, I’ve created a soundtrack for this story on Spotify. Find me there and I’ll share it with you. 🙂

Guest Post: Jenny Shaw

A musician’s thoughts about channeling emotion into art…

By Indie Ogden’s Jenny Shaw
 

Writing can be therapeutic. Taking emotions that fill you with pain, anger,anguish, sorrow, love, hope,  hopelessness, dreams, love guest-posting– unrequited or fulfilled – and let you place them outside of you, where they can be used to create, to build, to make something beautiful out of something ugly…or something heartbreaking . The words you put on that page can let other people know they’re not alone, not the only person to feel this way.

Writing can be challenging. It asks us to move outside of the box we normally live in, the way we express ourselves to others. There are no rules to writing (aside from spelling…), no one can tell you what you have to say, what pictures you must paint for your readers. Writing frees you from the confines of the “normal” world and lets you escape into a place where nothing you say is wrong, nothing you feel is “too much”,Jenny singing too passionate, whiny, pleading, hopeful, silly, it’s never too much.

I write songs. Sometimes, I really like what I write. Sometimes… I wish they sounded more like something else. So, I start over. I never scrap anything, because who knows but that something I wrote three months ago and hated won’t speak to me now?

This is mine. It doesn’t have a name. But it speaks to me. It may become a song…maybe not. It might just stay how it is.

Are you really such a fleeting thing?

Who would’ve guessed something so good could ever end…

As one day blurs into the nextgirl moon stars

I long to see you again…

Now I look for you each day

Praying that someday soon you’ll find me,

Somewhere along the way…

As of yet, I walk alone through this dark and stormy world, 

Hoping and wishing on stars 

for a love to call my own

So my heart, at last, can be at home.

I thought I’d figured this out, at last

But I realize now how naive I was

To think someone like you would want someone like me

To keep

To call dibs

To say “She’s with me”

What was it?

What did I ever see?

Are you really such a fleeting thing?

To go from embraces by the fire,

to stolen glances filled with shame

Things will never be the same, will they?

I lie in wait

Waiting for your call.


When I listen to a song by someone else, or I choose to learn a song to play, the words are the most important thing. Followed by how I know it will sound when I sing it. The following is a song called Perivigilo by a band called First Aid Kit. The lyrics speak to me so strongly, a song of passion and desire, unrequited love and hope with the full knowledge that it’s just never gonna happen…

 And that’s all she wrote… for now!

-Jenny

About Jenny Shaw

I grew up in a rural town in northern Utah. My life wasn’t particularly exciting, no grand adventures or epic love stories. The oldest child of a middle-class American family, homeschooled and the only non-LDS family on the block, I didn’t have many friends growing up. So, I made them up. Writing became my escape, my way into the life and friendships I only dreamed of having. 

I’d been singing since before I can remember and writing for almost as long. Eventually, the two merged into angsty teenaged poetry which then evolved into something almost called real music. At this point in my life, my music and my writing are my ways of expressing myself, reaching into the world outside of me to add to it, make it more beautiful than it was before…and it is much cheaper than therapy. Ha!

 

It’s Music Week!

Hey Firefans!

We are so excited to share a special treat with our loyal followers this week. And…if you’re new to Writing the Fire, you picked a great time to join us. We’ve had an epiphany.

Last week when I wrote the 3 Ways to Keep Writing… or How Not to Lose Your Writing Mojo post, I was chatting via Facebook with Lori and asked her to give me a few ideas about what inspired her to write. She said:

“Music is huge, particularly when I am writing something spiritual. Music speaks to the soul in ways that nothing else can. In fact, I believe that when we pass on, we’ll communicate through music…somehow. It’s a more complete form of communication.”

Eureka! An idea came into my peripheral vision: We need a tribute to music on Writing the Fire!

Why? Because for each of us, when nothing else moves us, when the Muse is MIA and we’re certain we can’t write another word, music gives us fire.

Do something for me: Think of one of your favorite songs- from any genre or phase of your life, by any artist or group. A song that you can listen to a thousand times and not get sick of. Now… go pull it up on YouTube and have a listen.

What images start to come into focus in your i-love-musicmind…Inside your heart?  What emotions rise up from within, what memories does it bring back into your conscious realm?

Whether you felt ecstatic or sentimental or sad or angry, isn’t that a beautiful phenomenon? What a wonderful thing, that some notes strung together with the right voice and some instrumentation can produce that kind of raw feeling in a human being?

Part of the reason the three of us became so attached from the get-go because we all quickly realized we have one sort of odd phenomenon in common. We write to music. We all figured out we were alike in this way during Camp NaNoWriMo last August, and we all kinda geeked out about it together. Our group Facebook page became a virtual corkboard where we shared all our favorite songs and the scenes we’d written to go with them.

So this week we’re going to let you inmy_favorite_song-3892 too! We’ll share some of the music that plays a part in our writing, along with the story that appeared in our heads as we listened. I also convinced a local performer, our Indie Ogden friend Jenny Shaw to share some of her music here, for a look at the other side of things. We’ll answer the question: What music summons stories from the minds of writers, and what stories propel a musician into making music?

Consequently, this morning at our monthly business meeting I asked Natalie to give me some song ideas to go with this post. I wanted something that anyone could listen to and see the vision that we see: Music is a pathway to the soul. She came up with this one:

It really is perfect for this post, but it’s funny…  I think if someone was ever to write a story of our group, this would definitely be our theme song.

Anyway, get ready to read some of our deep-from-the-murky-depths writing this week, and hear the music that inspired it. And- we’d love to hear your favorite songs and how they inspire you too. So don’t hesitate to give us a shout out if you want to sing along. ; )

So. Much. Fun. You do not want to miss this. Stay tuned!  🙂

Cindy