I took sometime away from this blog. Housesitting and deciding to move again to a much better apartment.
When I was housesitting, I brought some CD’s, including the classical ones, written at the time the novel is set in, and some CD’s that I listened to at the time (late 1960’s). One, Red, Red, Wine by Neil Diamond was a record I listened to about one thousand times after graduation.
I was deeply depressed but I didn’t know that. All I knew is that I couldn’t do hardly anything including eating and sleeping. I stayed in friends’ basements listening to this one song over and over. “red, red wine, help me forget….” and I wanted to forget the last few years of my life. Twenty years later, I was diagnosed as bipolar, and I understood I hadn’t failed. I was psychotic at the time. I was completely blocked, I could not write a letter to my best friend. In fact, I could not understand his letter, written in simple English.
The song also foreshadowed my slip into my own alcoholism which peaked five years later, when I realized I needed to stop drinking immediately– and that was the last drink I took.
I don’t think I’ve listened to that song since that summer of 1970. Until this week. I lay back on the bed and let the song wash over me, wondering if the feelings would come back and if I could make sense of them if they did.
They did come back– and I could make sense of them. I realized that one component of writer’s block is something I had not realized at all. I was bored through a lot of college– bored and frustrated. Classes weren’t challenging, the parties had died, friends had moved away, the politics was frightening, ugly and irrational. A war was raging that would destroy the American way of life– and it did. We are still fighting and paying for that damned war.
I didn’t want to put all this into the novel. How can I write an exciting story based on a boring, crazy period of time? I think I just need to write the story and let the editor decide if it can hold a reader’s interest.
So while I cannot use Neil Diamond or Janis Joplin as background music when I am writing, I can listen to them when I am mulling over the work and letting memory speak.