Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Musical Writing Exercise

This is something I saw on Marian's Tulgeywood blog that sparked my interest. She encouraged me to try it, and this afternoon, with excitement and trepidation, I did.

Here are the rules, or "guidelines" as I like to say:

1. Take a Technological Purveyor of Music (such as an iPod) and set it to shuffle.

2. As soon as the first song starts playing, start writing. Don't put too much thought into the process, and don't bother trying to force the writing to the song -- just let the music carry your pen along.

3. When the song stops playing, stop writing. Don't edit anything.

And now I will tell you how I veered from the rules! I believe this was originally intended for fanfiction, but fanfic is something I've only done once to my memory. It was just a short piece, a one time thing; not to mention I did it two years ago.
So, I decided I would just pull settings and characters out of thin air.
...Let me just say, I now know why doing fanfic was suggested because pulling stories out of thin air is difficult. Overall though, I think I preferred it this way.

When I first tried doing this exercise my brain literally froze. I felt strangely nervous and couldn't write a single word.
I stopped and tried again and it got easier and easier as I kept going. I ended up doing about 12 songs. But! I did not just go with my ipod's consecutive shuffle. I skipped some songs, like a 45 second one (There was no way I was attempting that...) and other songs which for some reason didn't offer any inspiration (Sorry, Buddy Holly). I also restarted the shuffle several times, because I like doing that rather than going into high digits... *shrugs*

I did do a minimum of editing. I edited whilst I was writing (...wait, that probably doesn't count, on second thought). And afterwards, I corrected some punctuation, deleted a redundancy or two, and added something at the end of one; I put it in brackets though, so it would feel less like cheating, I guess. :P It's really quite torturous to not do more editing than that and not add more to the snippets of stories, but I restrained myself for whatever reason. For now, that is.

I'm only posting half of the ones I did; the ones I like best, of course. They all turned out better than I thought they were going too, though! Admittedly, I did have pretty low expectations, heh.


-'When I Go' by Slow Club-

My knees were scraped pretty bad. Darn! I thought, relishing the word my mother frowned upon. As if my knobby knees weren’t ugly enough.

“You okay?” Gene was standing above me looking concerned.

“Yeah,” I said with pretend disinterest.

He offered a hand and pulled me up.

I winced. “Uh, Gene...” I muttered


“I think I’m just going to go home now. We can roller-skate tomorrow.”

Or next month. I thought silently.

He shrugged, “Okay, if that’s what you want.”

Oh trust me, it is. I thought.

Aloud I said nothing, just shrugged and turned around.


-'Dance Until Tomorrow' by Lavender Diamond-

“You realize we’re going to be here for a while.”

Claire’s eyes were shining, her heart and skirt whirling and twirling as she danced on the arm of her fine young man.

“Yes, I know,” I sighed.

“Do you want me to get you any refreshment?”

“Yes, some punch would be welcome.”

I hadn’t actually wanted anything, but I needed to be alone for a minute. Well, alone as one ever is in these crowded ballrooms.

I followed his path with my eyes, then looked away toward Claire who was still joyously dancing.

I was past the age of a desirable partner. The only person who had tapped on my shoulder and asked to dance was Memory. In my mind, we waltzed now.

I tripped several times though the steps were familiar. Usually it went a lot smoother than this. I clung to Memory, hoping he was strong and would hold me up. But he let go, kissed my hand and left the room.

I found myself gazing dully into space. I snapped to attention, as James made his way back with my punch.

“Thank you,” I murmured. “Just what I needed.”


-'Shadows' by Au Revoir Simone-

I lay curled on the mattress and watched her through half-closed eyes.

I lay in a daze, intoxicated by her dark tangles against the white of her back.

She slipped the familiar blue shirt on.

“Why do you always sleep in that shirt?” I mumbled through the film of sleep over my lips.

“Because,” she murmured.


She gathered up her hair into a ponytail.

“I’ll tell you when you’re older,” she teased.

“I’m as old now as I’ll ever be,” I sighed and fell asleep.

My closed eyes couldn’t see her regarding me gravely and lovingly before she turned off the naked light bulb and lay down beside me [on the equally bare mattress].


-'Avant la haine' by Romain Duris and Joana Preiss, from the film "Dans Paris." (Which I've never seen, I just love the song.)-

“I’m an idiot,” she moaned, digging her hands deep into the damp soil.

No one except a bird or three heard her and they did not understand.

“I wonder sometimes if I should be allowed near living things,” she sighed, regarding her dilapidated garden.

“I can’t handle this,” she said in a sad monotone.

“I can’t handle this!” she screeched at the sky, standing up and brandishing a trowel.

The birds, the only ones who could hear, flew away.

“Of course. Yes.” She knelt down again.

“I’m an idiot,” she whimpered.


-'Sunshine' by Smoke Fairies-

She hadn’t realized how far down the city would be.

Are you sure you’ve done this before? She wanted to ask the stolid, silent man standing beside her. She didn’t dare.

She held out a foot in front of her. Five toes. An average foot belonging to an average girl.

“I shouldn’t be doing this,” she thought as she put her foot on the unnervingly meager looking rope.

Simultaneously she felt her faith soaring and plunging.

She wavered. His hand suddenly gripped her arm.

She didn’t dare look at it. But she could feel each finger digging into her arm, strong and strangely reassuring. Five fingers. An average man.

She took a step forward and felt him let go of her arm.

Another step. And another.


-'Movin' Out (Anthony’s Song)' by Billy Joel-

He kicked a nearby garbage can.

I’d never seen him so filled with anger; it sparked in his eyes.

“Tell me he’s not lying to me,” he said in a fierce undertone.

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” I cried. “What did he tell you?”

“Said there was nothing between you. That true?”

“Yes, yes. Of course! There was nothing.”

Nothing that could ever be perceived. Only years of me pushing desire to the back of the mind.

“There was nothing,” I repeated numbly.

Nothing but dreams. In his world that was nothing; in mine... everything.


Anyone reading, feel free to do this yourself! I'd love to read what you all write. You can do as many or as few as you like and follow the rules as loosely as you desire. :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

A sudden barrage.

As I drove, scents and sounds flew in the open windows. With them, they carried keys. Keys to open the bureaus and chests where my memories sleep, folded and tucked away. Suddenly, the lids of these safeholds were thrust open, causing memories to scatter all over the streets behind and beside me. The air became foggy with remembrances. Memory after memory sped through my mind. Memories of houses belonging to great-aunts and uncles; of the rows of shops in Chincoteague; of playing with Lily on summer twilights; of gravel driveways leading to exciting places.
Numbly I sat and my hands automatically kept up their cradle-rocking motion on the steering wheel. I felt blind, a blanket of reminisces over my head, a Janis Ian song playing on a loop in my mind. {Lover, am I coming home again?} In turning every corner, new memories would spill out. The most random of remembrances: that time of Sunday wandering with my brothers and father; countless dinners out when the grandparents were in town; exploring a green expanse of grass with my sister.
As I neared home, they quieted down. They've dissipated by the time I've pulled into the driveway. My father who sat next to me was unaffected; he felt, heard, saw nothing. But it was all I could do not to stumble up the porch steps; weary, yet wishing the memories would come back in all their intensity. But everything was locked up again... except for one sole memory lingering centerstage. It was a new one, with a polished sheen and beguiling gleam in its eye. Twas the memory of this car ride and the not unwelcome evocation of feelings and experiences I’d nearly forgotten. I hung the shiny new memory where I could see it, not willing to put it away just yet. I wanted to ponder it for a while longer...

(This strange incident happened to me yesterday. I almost feel like I imagined it all, it was so out of the blue. It always amazes me how short the line connecting memories to scents and sounds (&c.) is. Such as, whenever I hear the sound of a large/long zipper being zipped, bam! I'm miles away, camping and lying in a tent listening to a member of the family opening the zippered door. Or I'll smell something and find myself cast years into the past. The mind and our five senses are wondrous things. Do you, dear readers, have any sound/smell associations?)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

all the lonely people

Playing piano in a darkened room:
'Eleanor Rigby' (because I need to know
where all the lonely people belong)

I was playing
and the keys
gleamed like phantoms;
tender ghosts that glowed with solace
and sustenance

the hours and weeks before
had been full of voiceless screams,
of sighs and trembling

the ghosts and the
bittersweet darkness
of their ebony threads
were the sole thing that could
bind these tatters of mine

they filled me, stopped the disintegration
(I'm a grey colour now, but still here)

And my fingers keep on pacing,
always looking for their songs

(for this is the only way
I know how to speak.
This is the only way
I can communicate.

know me.


My emotional hurricane has calmed to a rainstorm. It's much easier to live with, but I'm tired of being anywhere from damp to soaked all the time; I just want to be dry!

On a happier note, I started a new journal yesterday! I don't know why, but I love starting a new journal (though finishing the old one is somewhat bittersweet). Through the years, especially when I was younger, I've kept various diaries... but it is only my journal(s) that I have stayed faithful to.
I kept my first journal from December 2000 to January 2009. My second journal I kept from February 2009 to, well, August 2011! (As you can see, my writing habits have greatly spiked in the last few years.)
The journal I have just started was given to me for Christmas by my brother.

I love it so much since I'm a Beatles fan of astronomical proportions and Abbey Road is one of my favourite albums. It has been lying around my room tempting me for around 8 months, so I'm excited to finally be writing in it!

Eh, it's the little things in life, isn't it?

{Both photos by me.}