I’ve always been fairly transparent about my muse. Though I suffer from my fair share of writer’s block
[and, indeed, help others through it at Writers Unblocked]
I’m generally happy to talk about ideas, their sources, development and realization. I’m prone to writing songs and performing them live almost straight away, to writing poetry live in response to prompts, and – when the opportunity presents – free-forming ideas in front of audiences.
A while back, I did a short video blog on why Escalation is called Escalation, and heard from you that it was interesting to see behind the curtain.
So, I thought I’d do more. Here’s the first of a regular approach to lifting the lid on my works to date – the sort of thing I share at readings and presentations. It may be songs, or my books – whatever, I hope it’s interesting
[and will only know that if you let me know!]
Today I thought I’d write a bit about Karaoke Criminals.
[in a bar called Music, Musica - the book version a collapse of two bars in the resort - the actual Music, Musica was next door to our hotel!]
and turned into the next big thing by an exiled mobster. Roxi’s journey stays pretty much true to that premise, and the outline is largely the same.
Truth be told though, Karaoke Criminals was originally a series of jokes and scenarios that could grow from the premise – the idea of mobsters muscling in on the music industry. A scene where they bully an advertising agency for use of Roxi’s music to advertise tampons remains – at the time, a riff on the commercialization of the Spice Girls, as I recall.
But, as I began to flesh out the characters – and, in particular Miles, Barry and Brian – the jokes and situations began to take on a grittier edge.
Take the little house in Islington for example. The original joke was that everyone in the music industry was scoring their drugs from the little house, which just happened to be controlled by the exiled mobster’s gang. It was going to be a running theme of personal leverage. And, indeed, the little house does get mentioned in that light several times in the novel – but now, it’s also a magnet pulling Miles back to his bitter past, the center of Barry’s desperate, brutal reality, it’s much more than just a joke.
That could be the best summary I can offer of Karaoke Criminals, in its final shape as a gritty, contemporary drama: much, much more than just a joke. And, while it retains a lot of the sunshine in which it was born, I have to say I like what it grew up to be much more.
See you next Thursday.
Thanks for reading, you have my love,
Be Still – from Sparse, available online at http://vincenttuckwood.bandcamp.com.
BE STILL – VINCENT TUCKWOOD
If you would stop talking
You might hear one hand clapping
As a tree falls a lonely fall
With no audience or curtain call
But you just keep talking
Just to fill the space
You find yourself in
If you would stop moving
You might feel what you are feeling
If you stop to listen
You might hear what I am saying
But you just keep moving
Trying to escape the doubt
You find yourself in
But be still
There’s nothing to fear
There’s nothing to fear
Copyright 2013, Vincent Tuckwood
Images used under Creative Commons License: Public Domain. Original at http://archive.org/details/TripDown1905.
I thought I’d posted this here a long time ago, but a search let me know I hadn’t!
Marianne Williamson‘s quote
[from her book A Return to Love]
was powerful reinforcement to me as I made my transition out of my corporate self and shape. As always when the heart is open, the right words, thoughts, feelings are available to be received.
I’ve had several conversations recently where I’ve shared the spirit of this quote with others and directed them to find it – so I thought it’d be easier to link it here!
If you are facing your own transition, reflect on what’s holding you back – it may not be barriers, it may just be the fear of how much more you will become.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
—-from A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson.
Alongside my story-telling, I’m a trained counselor and coach – and I get told I’m very good at it. If you need help with your transition, why not consider asking me to coach you through the change?
Well, for any of you following along, you’ll know that I’m about 20,000 words into the new novel, RUFUS
[that's a working title, obviously, but I suspect it'll also be the final title]
[even those mapped out completely]
as I begin to realize that I am, once again, beginning to scale Mount Write-What’s-Next – the longest that ever lasted was 5 years with Do Sparrows Eat Butterflies?, the shortest a month or so for Escalation. For RUFUS, the catch-my-breath was about 6 months, and today was the first day I sat down to advance the story. It felt good to be picking up the threads again.
I’m still not ready to really lift the lid on the plot – even though I’ve got the skeleton mapped out, it’s highly likely to change, and I want the story’s reality to speak to me before I share it.
I can share that I’m enjoying learning about our wandering minstrel, Rufus: who he is, where he’s been and why he’s in the world
[both what he thinks is the answer to that last, and also what I know to be the real answer]
I’m also happy to be bringing back a character from a previous book as a key supporting player in Rufus’ journey. That’s an interesting discovery in and of itself – to anyone who’s read my books, I’ll be interested to hear guesses as to who it is.
In the spirt of proving that I’m not just playing coy with you, I thought I’d share this paragraph that appeared just now – it’s hot off the press and, as ever, I reserve the right to change it completely. That said, it felt good to write it – one of my run-on, vomit paragraphs!
Floating, deep in the song, deep in the harmony, resonance and tune, deep in the words flowing one to the next, stringing like pearls, like ancient wisdom handed down and down, on and on into common acceptance, rendered natural, rendered beautiful, fine oils, brushstrokes and belief.
Just one moment among others for Rufus, and one moment among others for this story-teller practicing his craft…
My friend, Marco Frucht, shared a quote from an interview with Buffy Sainte-Marie t’other day:
Oh my gosh. Just play. Don’t wait for some kind of mythological businessman to come along and recognize you. You’re already great. If you’re writing songs and playing music, play for your friends, then play for some more friends. Then play for their friends. Play every place that you can and write and don’t worry about the music business. I mean, it’s almost nonexistent right now. Now is the time to create your works and put them on the internet. It’s almost like the sixties. It used to be a very welcoming place for musicians and artists and songwriters in the sixties, and then it closed up and you couldn’t get into a gallery, you couldn’t get a concert, you couldn’t get a record company. All of that is falling away, and it’s back in the hands of the people. So, look at each other’s music, enjoy each other, put yours out there too. It’s a free world.
It really got me thinking. As those who follow along here know, I walk a fine line between being accepting of what is for the modern musician and railing at the sky for the challenges of making music in this world. And that conflict of opinion is present in my reaction to the quote above.
I confess that I haven’t yet read the full interview from which the quote is lifted, though it’s on my ‘to-read’ list, so I’m not going to pick apart her answer or even put up a counter-point.
The part of me that agrees whole-heartedly with her is increasingly seeing how music is love, community and care, a wider purpose in this thing we call humanity. That part of me is feeling and seeing that there is no art-form so intuitive and open to sharing as music. It is a transcendent moment to walk the tight-rope of musical collaboration. Maybe improv comedy comes close… Maybe. Though there’s something in the harmonics and resonance of song that transcends even that. So yes, sing to anyone and everyone. Sing and be damned. Sing and bring this fractured, isolating world together.
There is a baked-in assumption that those friends mentioned above want to listen, will be part of the sharing. And, sometimes
[no, scratch that… often]
that’s the case. And we get to sing for those people. However… Many of our friends, those who we can reach, are captured in the conformity of this lock-down, isolating culture; glued to reality television and search-for-a-star inanity, where number of notes sung replaces authentic emotion as the marker of success.
This is a recommendation-driven world; as yet I remain to be convinced that natural human reciprocity is alive and well, as opposed to corroded and unhealthy.
I don’t think independent musicians are clinging on to the mythological businessman concept – it’s very clear that the music business model that really only existed for about 40-50 years at the end of the 20th century is gone. I’ve not come across any local musician who aspires to global super-stardom; or at least admits to that. What I hear continually is
I just want people to listen
Or, in other words, an audience. Yet I see great musicians playing to empty rooms. I see venues that treat artists as living-breathing background muzak.
The challenge is that next step beyond good friends – it’s easy to talk about generating true fans
[those who will recommend]
but when venues demand cover tunes or karaoke, when streaming replaces locally held copies, when internet radio replaces the care and concern of the perfect mix tape, that next step is a high hurdle.
So, I don’t think it’s right, fair or just, to equate a local musician’s frustration with getting enough attention to be heard, with an expectation of super-star status – leave that to reality television and the dying beast that is the corporate music industry.
Maybe the best we can hope for is one pair of ears every so often
[and the rest of the time singing to ourselves and the void]
If those ears are on your head, please know that we love you for listening, we pay to do this
[in love, sweat and dollars]
and all we ask in return is, if you like what you hear, please tell someone that you think they should listen to us too.
It’s not much to ask. Not really.
It’s as simple as turning yourself into Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “welcoming place”.
[can't remember what or who, but we'll get to that in a moment]
and I received a few comments – many messages of support, which are always welcome, but then one specific comment
you shouldn’t get angry about that
That comment registered at the time, and I think I replied with some level of “I disagree”, and things moved on.
That comment has stayed with me, and has been playing into an internal dialogue, and external observation of what’s going on in the world. I wrote a few days ago about loneliness; how being ignored might, or more likely does, play into the root causes of mass-killings
[heavy subject, I know]
For nearly ten years, I’ve been studying, and acting, in the school of the embodied self – slowly unwinding the conditioned separation of my mind, body, spirit and soul into a centred, unified presence. Each day is a step in that journey and the return to centre. A large part of the work is to observe myself, while being within the observation
[I am both Schrodinger AND cat]
feeling for sensations; pulses, flows, streamings – the energy of this physical self as it reacts to, and creates, its current reality.
As I’ve grown to honour these reactions and actions, I’ve come to accept that ALL emotions are valid and deserving of expression.
Yet we live within the perfection myth, where:
- everyone smiles
- everyone sleeps soundly
- everyone is loved
The perfection myth, where:
- no-one is angry
- no-one is depressed
- no-one is lonely
Well, we can all see where the perfection myth has brought us: to young girls starving themselves to appeal, to the numbing medication of any undesirable emotion, to young men killing others as a statement of their power in this world.
The US constitution speaks to the right to pursue happiness, yet we face a perfection myth that reinforces each of us having not found happiness, sells us inadequate solutions, and then shames us into hiding, or even denying, our continuing unhappiness.
Well, not me.
I get angry, I get sad, I get frustrated, I get anxious. I get depressed.
I honour these emotions. I feel them, let them flow through and out – then I move on, reassured of the idiocy of the perfection myth, and quickly forgetting the specific that triggered the response.
And in this passing through, I see what’s driving the emotion, feel the reaction and lean into it to move forward.
We can choose how we respond – moving towards, away from, or with the stimulus. Or more accurately, when we respond, we can choose how we deal with that response.
For me, writing the emotion, stating it for the world beyond me, is part of my observation and movement.
I’m not going to stop honouring, acknowledging and sharing these feelings.
If that makes you angry, I’m sorry – it’s not my intent. And if you ever need to share that anger – I’ll be hear with a listening ear, a comforting shoulder and an open heart.