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Music– another way of using it to get past a writer’s block

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.

 

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