If you’ve ever had to break up with your literary crush, this one’s for you.
I find I often need to get to a place of intense longing or sadness in order to write anything of substance.
Here are a few songs that take me there.
“L’hymne à l’amour” – Edith Piaf
Pretty much anything by Edith works wonders. This one especially.
“If it kills me (Casa Nova Sessions” – Jason Mraz
Unrequited love. If longing runs deeper than that, I don’t wanna know about it.
“Jolene” – CAKE
A genuine jam, a girl taking a chance in the night to break out of her quiet life, out-of-control love. Yeah, yeah.
“Gravity” – John Mayer
I’m usually not a fan, but damn. Keep me where the light is.
“Grey” – Ani DiFranco
…And it’s October 2007 again. (Used only when completely necessary. Knocks the wind out of me for hours.)
What are some of your writing songs?
I’ve been feeling quite restless lately.
It’s something that happens to me from time to time: an itch to change course, start over. I am rarely, if ever, at liberty to do much with the feeling; change of this kind usually requires a good deal of cash, or time, or both. So I let the feeling stay for a while, and eventually it passes.
But this is different.
For two years, writing was mandatory, thanks to my MFA program. I had books to read, chapters to write—deadlines, even. All of that went away in January, and into the vacuum of structure rushed a whole lot of great stuff. I became an adjunct at a community college and the editor-in-chief of my program’s lit journal (which is accepting submissions, by the way). My library writing class continues, and I was asked to judge a fiction contest for Fordham University. I even signed on to write a critical review of The Color Purple, with all that spare time I have.
It is, as I said, all great stuff. Great for my resume, and for me professionally and personally. But part of me wonders if I haven’t overbooked myself with good things as a way to avoid the truly hard thing that I’m meant to be doing—finishing this novel—and if this buzzing in my head is just words, backlogged.
I haven’t added a line to my novel since I handed in my thesis (the first third of the book) last semester. Hell, I haven’t written anything creative since then. There was so much momentum in the MFA: the good kind of pressure on which I thrive. And now, I’m left to my own devices to create my own routine. And I’ve failed, so far.
I keep thinking that some sort of left-brained calendar will help, and maybe it would. Maybe it would at least silence the buzzing and clear the cobwebs if I knew that I’d put time down, on paper, to put things down on paper. But I turned 27 this year, and I know myself pretty well by now. The calendar will fall prey to my right-brained aversion to routine for the sake of comfort, and I will be here again, whining on WordPress about my mental constipation.
I think it’s time to give in to the right brain, to listen to the buzzing instead of trying to manage it. Lefty, you’ve done right by me for some time, saving me from panic with spreadsheets and lists. But I’ve got to turn the keys over to your counterpart and start listening to the only schedule that matters.
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