In the Mood

In the Mood
Image provided by Universal Pops
https://www.flickr.com/photos/universalpops/

No, I’m not discussing the song, “In the Mood for Love”. What I want to explore is what gets us in the mood to write. This can be a vast subject seeing that depending who you are and what you like can vary beyond a person’s imagination. I thought it would be good to start with the basics though.

Maybe the best way to handle this topic is for me to tell you what works for me and, hopefully, you will tell me your strategies in the comment section.

Random or Special Places

I guess I need the special place. The smallest bedroom in my house is converted into “the computer room”. Although I’d like to write in other rooms like the kitchen or living room, when I do that, I feel my surroundings are strange and distracting.

I bought a laptop just for that purpose, switching rooms once in a while. So far, the only other room that doesn’t disconcert me is the back bedroom. Maybe it’s because it’s cooler in there, which must be good for the laptop. Right?

Noisy or Quiet Surrounding

Kristi faithfully visits a coffee shop in Texas to do her writing. She takes her laptop and tries to snatch the same table every time. Somehow all the commotion with people talking works as white noise for her.

I know other writers who have music going while they write. They tell me they need it to set the mood or for the rhythm of their writing. I understand what they’re saying, but it won’t work for me.

I wouldn’t get any writing done if I tries to pound on the keys in a public place or with music blasting. Even a library gets me feeling a little daunted when it comes to writing, yet it sure is quiet there. The library intimidation could be that I’ve not spent a lot of time in one since the turn of the century. I use the resources on the internet now. Maybe I just need to reintroduce myself to the building.

Until that time comes, I need utter silence in my environment while I try to weave a tale. This can be troublesome at times. My husband loves noise. This wouldn’t be such a grave issue except “the computer room” doesn’t have a door. I’m not sure that would do much good anyway though because one of my cats, Marble, would continuously scratch at the door until it was opened. Whenever my husband goes someplace without me and I know he’ll be gone for more that a half hour, I try to use as much of that time for writing.

What Items are in Reach?

Jacqui has two monitors for her computer. She also has a personal library of books she uses when she writes. Her desk is so clean and tidy. Judging from the pictures I’ve seen, she’s well organized.

My collection of items to use while writing is minuscule compared to Jacqui’s arrangement. I have a traveling mug that will hold three regular mugs of coffee. There’s no way that sucker is tipping over either because it’s got a weight in the bottom of it. I have yet to have liquid all over the keyboard. I have a small bin to the right of the monitor that stores my books about writing. The plastic tray that sits in front of the bin holds Advil, post-note pads, a dinky spiral, and a flashlight. I keep my pens in a McDonald’s Happy Meal glass.

Weather

The weather, for the most part doesn’t seem to affect my desire to write one way or the other. I’ve known writers that have a hard time during the glorious days of summer or can’t seem to find that groove in the winter. Sometimes, but not often, the wind will play havoc with my ability to write. I wish it would have the opposite effect on me.

Without these things, I have a hard time getting in the mood to write. Sometimes I wonder why I even bothered getting the laptop when I rarely use it. Yes, I know, I should get more adventurous.

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Now, even with all this said, I know some writers wait until they’re in the mood to write. I have a hard time understanding this logic. You could be waiting for years for that mood to hit you just right. Some of the best writing I’ve done has been when I’ve had to insist that I get my butt in the seat and just start hammering in the keys.

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What gets you in the mood to write?

“There are times when I think that the ideal library is composed solely of reference books. They are like understanding friends—always ready to meet your mood, always ready to change the subject when you have had enough of this or that.” ― J. Donald Adams

 

It Was My Black Cloud – part 1

It Was My Black Cloud
Image provided by
zk47 @ http://zk47.deviantart.com/art/Summer-Love-161213704

I’ve been trying to convince myself that the reason I didn’t writing anything in my blog for this last weekend is because I can’t think of anything worth writing about; and maybe what I tell you here isn’t all that interesting, but a couple of you have been waiting for me to write this. Why have I been avoiding this story? The time was devastating to me, and yet, because of all the years that have passed, I find myself incredibly bored with the telling. What happened to me changed my life so drastically within a blink of the eye.

During the last half of my senior year of high school I dated several guys. Although I enjoyed their company, my thoughts were centered on how I was going to make music a feasible major in college. Let’s face it — having a successful career in music must be one of the hardest things to do, if not the very hardest. I was already sure that I was not going to be a flutist that become a celebrity. I’d be lucky to get one of the first chairs in a city orchestra.

One guy I dated several times during that last semester was Robin. I told my mom that he was nineteen, when in reality, he was twenty-two. I’m not sure why I decided to date him. It wasn’t to rebel against my parents. And it wasn’t because he took me anywhere that guys young than he had taken me. And it certainly wasn’t because I loved him because I knew that I didn’t. He didn’t take me out often, maybe about every six weeks or so. Although he never said, I was quite sure that he had other girlfriends.

After graduation, my plans were to spend that summer at Eisenhower Park on most days and not to have a part-time job for once. I had a strong feeling that summer would never be the same again once I was in college so I wanted to make the most out of this one.

The first day enjoying the pool at the park, I got together with all the friends I had in previous years. There was also a boy I had met five years before, but he hadn’t been around enough to really click with our brood. I was told that one of the guys in our group had a falling out with this other guy. Obviously, whatever was between them had changed for the better. His name was Tim.

Tim and I were the same age, just went to different schools. He was tall and burly, and also sweet and fun to be around. We hit it off right away. On most days, we were spending six to twelve hours with each other. Yes, I was falling in love for the first time.

I knew that Robin would call at some point that summer. Because of the way I felt about Tim, I knew I had to break it off completely with him. The point of that call came on Independence Day (July 4 for those of you outside of the US).

 

I thought about going on with this story until the end, but I find myself having trouble wording what I was to tell you. I guess I could just tell it like it is but that might be an entire book. I need to condense it. If I don’t do it right, there are going to be misconceptions, which is something I can’t allow for this story. Be assured that I will be back with the rest of this.

Read part 2 here. | Read part 3 here.

From the Era

Somewhere along the way this past weekend I misplaced blocks of time. They were those chunks I use every weekend to write at least one post for the coming week and a rough draft for the other one. This is my excuse for this post being so short. It’s also a little fragmented. Hopefully my next post won’t be so flaky. 🙂

 

Image provided by Homini:) @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/homini/
Image provided by
Homini:) @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/homini/

Sometimes I wish I knew what age groups I’m addressing when I write my posts. It isn’t that I’m bias. In fact, I think of myself being quite open-minded and this does include a variety of ages. Still, when writing about my past, I prefer to use the terms of the time being revealed through my words. Do I need to explain these terms in my post? This is where it would be nice to know what generation you’re in.

My stepdaughter refers to those times as “back in the day”. I don’t know about you, but to me it sounds like she’s talking about the Wild West. I’m not that old, believe me. I’m one of those from the “make love, not war” generation, and even at that, I’m one of the younger in the group.

I heard somewhere, not knowing where exactly, that great music comes from the generations who were faced with more tragedy in their childhood or early adulthood. For instance, beautiful music came out of the years during WWII. The same could be said of WWI too. My generation had the Vietnamese War. I think some fantastic music came from those years, but I could be prejudice.

Does the same go for writing? In my opinion, it does. Books like The Great Gatsby, Grapes of Wrath and Catcher in the Rye were hitting the book stands during war-time.

Although I think there’s plenty of correlation between war-time, music and novels, those of us who are writing at a time of relative peace (please note that I said ‘relative’) can produce that great quality of passion and work too. However, I do think we have to work a little harder at it because the outside stimuli that comes from all-out-war isn’t there. We, instead, have to look inward for our inspiration. I can assure you that digging down into yourself is much more difficult than finding that motivation that you may see in a newspaper or on TV.

Some of you are old enough that you’ve experienced these differences in the Eras. Others are too young and may be having a hard time finding the joys in music and writing. Both can tell of great emotions that you are invited to share in.

I want to encourage those of you who have not lived through a time of war to listen to the music of those years and read the novels of those times. It may just give you that outside stimuli to get you going on your own projects.

 

All City Band

Image provided by Jim Larrison @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/larrison/
Image provided by
Jim Larrison @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/larrison/

Times have changed so much since my school days. I know that this is normal, of course, but there are some things from the past that, to this day, I don’t think should have been changed. One of these things is cultural and art events for the kids that went beyond the confines of they own schools. The sport events have continued to make it past the individual school districts, but not the other events that play a big part in shaping the lives of children.

I’ve never been athletic. When there was Field Day at my elementary school, I was always one of the last to finish a race and one of the worse softball and kickball players. Nonetheless, I was out there trying. What I did success at was music, which I’m sure you’re slightly aware of by now. If not, just click in the Categories in the sidebar to find other posts about my love of music.

I had taking private flute lessons from Mr. Gary for approximately a year when I hit the sixth grade. Because being a private instructor didn’t pay very much, he was also a substitute music teacher for all of the school in the metropolitan area. Naturally, because he was associated with the school administrations, he knew about all of the cultural and art events. One of these was the All City Band.

This program was divided by groups of ages. There was one for fourth, fifth and six graders; one for junior high kids; and one for high school students.

I was in sixth grade when I tried out for All City Band the first time. To qualify, I had to audition with a solo. Yes, I was a little frightened by this in spite of the fact that I had been in some recitals and had played solos for the church. In those other incidences, I was playing in front of people I already knew. The audition would be strangers.

I chose Beethoven’s piece, Flight of the Bumblebee. It would show how comfortable I was with the fingering of the flute, my ability to not only play fast but with clear tone and, hopefully, show that I could play in front of strangers. The strategy worked because I was in the All City Band that year, playing at the coliseum with other young musicians from all over the city. I auditioned for this program again when I was in eighth grade, earning sixth chair in the flute section.

It wasn’t until I was a senior in high school that I tried out again for this band. This last time I played a piece by Claude Debussy. The music was serene, which meant I was taking a big risk with the audition. But I felt that I could show more about tempo and feeling, as well as crystal tone with the piece. I earned second chair in the flute section that year.

The conductor for my last year in the program was the chief music director at the University of Denver, Mr. Burns. I experienced pure joy playing under his direction. He was a musician of deep feelings and expression.

As the band played their last piece of the evening at a downtown theater, he definitely demonstrated his love for music. He was all decked out in a tuxedo with the tails and a crisp white ruffled shirt. He looked the part of the great conductor, which, in my opinion, he was. We were playing the music, The Pines of the Appian Way, also know as The Pines of Rome. It starts very quiet. Soon the volume grows and the percussion and the big brass sections join in. As we played, Mr. Burns’ hair got ruffled. Then he unbuttoned his coat. By the time the brass had played a couple of bars, he was taking off the coat and laid it on the platform. By the end of the piece, when all sections are playing their loudest and the timpani drums pounding away, Mr. Burns’ cuff links were off; his sleeves were rolled up and his hair was a disaster. Needless to say, we got a standing ovation.

 

I find it sad that music is rarely offered as a class in the schools anymore. It teaches diligence, cooperation, self-reliance, expansion of the mind, and the list goes on. Are kids learning anything in school that it going to prepare them for the valleys as well as the mountains in life? From what I’ve observed, I’m seeing very little that is going to help them.

 

High School Suitors – Part 4

High School Suitors
Image provided by
Ariadna Bruna @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/50732422@N06/

I probably should be telling you about Chris and Charley separate from the boyfriends I had in high school. Yet, these two young men meant and still mean so much to me. Sure, I kissed both of them, but they weren’t the kisses I’d give a boyfriend.

 

High School Suitors - Part 4
Image provided by
WikiPaintings @ http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/lyubov-popova/the-pianist

Chris was in my band class. He played clarinet. He wasn’t terrific at it but he wasn’t a failure either. I think he took it as a fill-in class. His passion was visual arts. He was seventeen and a senior back then while I was sixteen and a junior. It stared out with both of us having lunch at the same time. Both of us smoked so we’d trot outside at that time to have a cigarette. One of us (can’t remember if it was Chris or me) asked the other one for a light. We sat on the dead grass of last January, eating our sack lunches, smoking a second cigarette, and talked about our band teacher, Rolie.

This exchange went on until May when Chris came over to my house for the first time. He didn’t come alone. He had his soon to be college roommate with him, Charley. These two guys were different in so many way. Chris was the tall, dark and handsome one. Charley, although tall and had brown hair, was, I’m sorry to say, not handsome. Chris’s hair was dark brown, almost black. It was thick, wavy and went down to his shoulders, just barely that is. Charley’s hair was so thin, curled in just the wrong places, and his hair was as long as Chris’s was. Chris had a choirboy face where Charley had the face of Fagan in the musical, Oliver.

Charley had a few good points about himself that Chris didn’t have though. Charley was smart, way smarter than he would ever need to be. He was a wiz at math and could play the piano as if he were a professional pianist. Moreover, he could play jazz and rock as well as classical. He seemed to have no problems with his grades because of his high level of intelligence. He could carry on a conversation with anyone no matter what his or her age or the subject. He was an amazing young man.

Chris was nice enough and was fun to be with, but he was naive. His life had been sheltered quite a bit more that Charley’s had. He also had a tendency to see things in only black and white. This made him feel terribly guilty when the three of us would go out to the foothills to smoke a couple of joints. For Charley and me, we felt that marijuana should be legalized and we figured we were just getting the jump on it.

These two men were my close friends for two years and our relationship with one other would have gone on longer if it is could. They taught me how to play the card games Hearts and Spades. I learned about the different strategies in the game of Risk. I learned how to do the waltz and the Foxtrot.

Chris and Charley weren’t this versatile by accident. Chris’s family had money. No, he wasn’t filthy rich, but there was enough so that his parents could make sure he was primed to be a successful adult. Charley’s family wasn’t quite as influential with money but did have some. Charley’s family lived in the Netherlands. They were an American family with the father’s career being in Europe. To say it in a few words, Charley got an intentional education.

 

I will always be grateful to these two for how they helped me discover the world that was outside my “backyard”. What I had to endure after high school is something I don’t think I could have handled with out what I learned from Chris and Charley.