Stories on Shuffle: A Weekly Feature

You know how when you close your eyes and really immerse yourself in a song, all kinds of magic happens? Memory, feeling, wildly imagined dreamscapes, runaway thought trains, three-minute sensory journeys?

I love these experiences, transitory as they are. Finding a way to translate them to the external world can be hard sometimes. There’s nothing quite like getting lost in your inner landscape as notes soar up and down through your system. It feels private, luxurious, transcendent. How do we share something so inexplicably profound?

The irony is that everyone knows what I’m talking about. I trust that you have an inkling [or more] of the effect music has on a soul.

As for me, I am certain of two things: 1) I love music. 2) I love writing. I’ve been thinking on ways to combine my love for both into one creative exercise that I can practice and share on a regular basis. Here is what I’ve come up with:

Five songs on shuffle, five one-hundred-word stories [or drabbles, if you will*]. Fiction, memoir, poetry, prose, avant-garde e.e. cummings experimental shit – it might be anything. I’m throwing convention out the window, save for one rule: No cheating by skipping songs. The first five songs inspire the first five stories. Pinky promise.** I will just write what I feel when I listen. Pretty simple.

I plan on posting a full five next week. Just for now, I’ve done one to test-drive. Feedback utterly and entirely welcome.

*Using the phrase “if you will” always makes me feel 20 years older than I actually am.
**Pinky promises are the ultimate. I never go back on a pinky promise, I pinky promise you that.

Sea Lion Woman – Feist

Sporadic sips of jasmine tea fuel her violent keyboard tapping. She sits with a perfectly straight back in the bistro corner. Spoons tinkle against ceramics and a pair of eyes across the way watches her. She’s oblivious to all.

The eyes belong to a man who is curiously absorbing her silhouette. He thinks she feels familiar. He’s racking his brain trying to recall where he might have seen her before.

Her fingers fly over the keyboard.

His thoughts grow fuzzy. He pays his bill and leaves, vaguely unsettled.

She doesn’t miss him. You never miss eyes you never look into.


Inspiration Isn’t A Daily Guarantee

This morning I read a blog post written by one of the creative mentors I follow online about how she schedules her week as a creative business owner. It was an incredibly valuable & informative post for me on multiple levels, but one particular bit stood out to me and it was this:

Inspiration isn’t a daily guarantee as a creative – sometimes creative business just looks like doing the work and getting things done, we can’t rely on inspiration to fuel us every single day.

It hit me with the truth tingles (I have my sister to thank for that phrase), which essentially is that full-body sensation that something you’ve just experienced resonates deep within you as your own personal absolute truth. Oftentimes it’s even something you knew before experiencing it – you just couldn’t find the proper outward expression until now.

Having been immersed in creativity my whole life, I did know this about inspiration. It’s like taking public transit. You wait at the station and sometimes the train comes and sweeps you away on grand journeys and other times it just doesn’t show up. It’s a tricky, spontaneous little sprite. [So is it a train or a sprite? I’m getting carried away with analogies again. I will argue that it’s both. And neither. And all things. And nothing. As inspiration sometimes goes.]

My goal is to do something creative every day, but sometimes my head is full of nothing but boring adult things – or it’s stuck in loops of obsessive anxiety – or it’s just plain tired. Some days the most creative thing I do is wake up in the morning. I am a huge advocate and a daily practitioner of the “life is art” concept, but sometimes the mundane is nothing but the mundane. It doesn’t sparkle and shine with possibility; it only sits there, dull and heavy and dry. And to feel differently about it, all it takes is a mindset shift – but on some days, even that is a lofty goal requiring amounts of creative energy that I don’t always have access to.

But I’m learning this is okay too. The dullness provides contrast to the days my heart sings with ideas and aliveness. If every day I was filled to the brim with inspiration I think I’d probably collapse from the weight of it. I’m learning to feel my way around the ups and downs, more so than thinking about them. That place of emotional over cognitive is severely underestimated and under-utilized.

I’m fascinated by the shifting tide of everyone’s creative process. For me, it feels like a never-ending journey. I’m constantly learning new things about the ways all the different pieces of my Self operate. Sometimes I get it and there is harmony, and sometimes I don’t and there is discord.

But regardless of the tune, it’s a song that’s always in my head, and I’m determined to commit the notes to memory.

Art in featured image by Valerie Guardiola

Coasting: An Introduction

For the past week I’ve been pondering an introductory post.

Being the meticulous, thoughtful Virgo I am, I promptly conducted research.

  • I combed through my favorite blogs to observe their humble beginnings.
  • I Googled “how to write your first blog post”.
  • I wrote down sparks + snippets on my morning commutes to work.
  • I hoarded half-baked, dissatisfying drafts.

Here is what I learned:

  1. There is no “right” way to start a blog. You just post something and trust in momentum.
  2. You figure things out by doing them.
  3. Your own ideas are powerful. Always give them a voice.
  4. Half-baked is a necessary part of the process. [Here’s a favorite blog post from Raptitude that talks about the importance + value of your less-than-stellar work.]

And a bonus lesson:

5. Things will fall into place. Trying too hard sometimes becomes precisely what you are trying to avoid: a lack of results.

So – to use an analogy that doesn’t really apply to me because I don’t own a car but will still illustrate my point – I ease up on the gas pedal and I choose instead to coast, knowing that while both ways may take me to where I want to be, only one of them will allow me to enjoy the scenery along the way.

And I do love me some scenery.

“Instead of trying harder, try softer.” —Eleanor Roosevelt


A Signpost

Hi! Thank you for coming. I’m glad you’ve arrived.

There’s not a whole lot to explore around here just yet because I’m currently in the process of reviving this little ol’ site. I have big plans for it, but:

0404-signpost-nogreatthing(and that’s what I’m reminding myself of daily.)

I hope you come back soon! Your company is desired, lovely mysterious reader.