Tag Archives: Joy

The similarities between music and writing.

4 Oct

Last night, my friend Olive and I went to see a band called First Aid Kit perform at the Orange Peel, a popular, but small live music venue in downtown Asheville. First Aid Kit is “a Swedish folk duo composed of sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, whose close vocal harmonies and woodsy, folk-influenced songwriting take influence from the likes of Fleet Foxes and Joanna Newsom.”

I first recognized the connection between music and writing when First Aid Kit played their song, “Emmylou.” Take a look at the chorus of the song:

I’ll be your Emmylou and I’ll be your June
If you’ll be my Gram and my Johnny too
No, I’m not asking much of you
Just sing little darling, sing with me

Even though this song specifically refers to singing, I feel like it can apply to writing as well. The great thing about singing (and writing) is that even though it can be a one-person job, the pure joy in it is found when it’s shared with others. Yes, the majority of the time when I write, I write for me. I used to sing as well, and when I did so, it was mainly due to the fact that it made me happy. However, how lonely would writing be (and singing for that matter) if we weren’t able to touch people with our words and music? In my opinion, it wouldn’t be nearly as rewarding. Yes, it is an incredible feeling when I’m able to write out a specific memory and know that simply writing it out has brought me a sense of comfort that wasn’t there before. However, I don’t think I would be able to push through my writing ruts and my bad writing days if it weren’t for the people who were supporting me and encouraging me to keep on writing. I feel like it’s very similar in terms of singing. After all, when you go to concerts, you always hear the musicians constantly thanking their listeners for their love and support. I have no doubt that in their minds, they wouldn’t have been able to push through the hard days of songwriting without the support and love from their fans.

Though there were so many years that I wrote simply for me and me alone, that focus has definitely shifted over the last year. Even though I still do write for myself due to the fact that it’s incredibly therapeutic, I also write in order to impact others with my words. I write to share my story. However, I share my story because I want it to help others: others with CP, others who want a window into what CP is like (like the parents and friends of kids with CP), others who don’t know much about CP but have a desire to learn. Without the presence of those “others” wanting and needing me to keep sharing my story, writing about my life would be so much harder. Therefore, it is because of the support and encouragement from all of you that I am able to sit down at my computer every day and share my story, though some days it seems to come together very slowly. Thankfully, there’s no time frame for my writing. The only required constant is writing something, anything every day.

When in Ireland, don’t let the joy get knocked out of you.

5 Jul

I just got out of my Literature and Film class in which Mary O’Malley, one of Ireland’s leading poets, came to speak. She read some of her work and then asked if there were any aspiring writers in the room. I shyly raised my hand, along with three other people.

She then went around the room and asked each of the aspiring writers what they prefer to write. When she came to me, I said that I’m working on a memoir and memoir-related articles, since that has been my recent focus. Her first question, “How old are you?” is one I get a lot in reference to the fact that I’m writing a memoir. However, when I said “19” she was surprised, but didn’t make any negative remark. She just said, “Good girl,” and all I could do was smile. She then asked what the memoir would be focused on, and I just said my childhood. Her next question caught me off guard. She asked, “When do you think that ended?” (referring to my childhood). I was stunned. I couldn’t answer, much less put together any coherent sentence. She then told me that she didn’t think she knew when her childhood ended either. However, our conversation, though very short, has kicked me out of my writing rut that I’ve been moaning and groaning about for weeks. Her final piece of advice to the aspiring writers was this: “Don’t let the joy get knocked out of you,” and I think that’s what really kicked me into writing gear. It’s something that I sometimes forget: the joy. The pure, simple, and yet strong joy that I get from just writing how I feel. It’s an amazing, amazing feeling. It’s the reason I began writing in the first place….because it was my refuge, my security, the happiness that overpowered the pain.

I think as writers we all need a kick in the pants sometimes, and I got mine today. I’ve opened the Word document of my memoir, and for the first time in weeks, I’m not at a loss for words. They’re there, clear as day, waiting to be written, waiting to come alive on the page as only words can do.

Barbara Kingsolver Quotes.

12 May

Since I’ve been on a recently discovered Barbara Kingsolver kick lately (I just finished The Bean Trees and am now reading Pigs In Heaven), I thought I’d share some Barbara Kingsolver quotes since I haven’t done a quotes post in a while (Quotes obtained from goodreads.com).

  1. “The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.”
  2. “Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”
  3. “It’s what you do that makes your soul.”
  4. “What keeps you going isn’t some fine destination but just the road you’re on, and the fact that you know how to drive. You keep your eyes open, you see this damned-to-hell world you got born into, and you ask yourself, ‘What life can I live that will let me breathe in & out and love somebody or something and not run off screaming into the woods?”
  5. “If we can’t, as artists, improve on real life, we should put down our pencils and go bake bread.”
  6. “In a world as wrong as this one, all we can do is make things as right as we can.”
  7. “Morning always comes.”
  8. “Every one of us is called upon, perhaps many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, loss of a job…And onward full-tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore. To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another–that is surely the basic instinct…Crying out: High tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. Time to take this life for what it is.”
  9. “Literature duplicates the experience of living in a way that nothing else can, drawing you so fully into another life that you temporarily forget you have one of your own. That is why you read it, and might even sit up in bed till early dawn, throwing your whole tomorrow out of whack, simply to find out what happens to some people who, you know perfectly well, are made up.”
  10. “It’s surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time. ”
  11. “To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know.”
  12. “She kept swimming out into life because she hadn’t yet found a rock to stand on.”
  13. “In my own worst seasons I’ve come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing: a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window. And then another: my daughter in a yellow dress. And another: the perfect outline of a full, dark sphere behind the crescent moon. Until I learned to be in love with my life again. Like a stroke victim retraining new parts of the brain to grasp lost skills, I have taught myself joy, over and over again
  14. “Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say.”
  15. “That was when we smelled the rain. It was so strong it seemed like more than just a smell. When we stretched out our hands we could practically feel it rising up from the ground. I don’t know how a person could ever describe that scent.”
  16. “If you ask me, when something extraordinary shows up in your life in the middle of the night, you give it a name and make it the best home you can.”
  17. “It’s one thing to carry your life wherever you go. Another thing to always go looking for it somewhere else.”
  18. “Anybody can get worked up, if they have the intention. It’s peacefulness that is hard to come by on purpose.”
  19. “People read books to escape the uncertainties of life.”
  20. “Don’t wait for the muse. She has a lousy work ethic. Writers just write.”

Happy Saturday everyone! Is there a particular author that has some of your favorite quotes? What are they?

Tuesday’s Tunes: Ben Harper.

6 Mar

Even in the face of all that I’ve overcome, there have only been small moments where I’ve viewed myself in a positive light. However, when I look at Grace (a young girl I know who also has CP), she has so much joy and love she’s portraying. She fights so hard, even when things get really tough. She runs head first into life, instead of giving in to the fear or pain. She’s fearless.

This past Thanksgiving, I was introduced to “Fly One Time” by Ben Harper. Here are the lyrics:

Inevitability
It’s pounding at my door
screaming for more
In a world that owes you nothing
you give everything, everything

And now I’m caught in between
What I can’t leave behind
and what I may never find
So fly one time
Fly one time

Standing at the edge of your life
at the edge of our lives
Don’t hold on
There’s no fighting back the years
So hard to unlearn fears

Now you’re caught in between
what you can’t leave behind
and all that you may never find
So fly
Just fly, just fly one time

I see you so clearly, so clearly,
up so high
I see you up so clearly, up so clearly
up so high, so high

Now you’re caught
Now you’re caught in between
what you can’t leave behind
and what you may, what we may never find

So fly, so fly, one time
So clearly, so clearly, so high
Fly one time
Just fly one time
If you fly one, one time

For me, this song is a reminder to go after your dreams, or simply live, as much as you can. The desire to “fly” is within every one of us, but some of us keep our wings tucked while others attempt to soar, even if they know they’ll fall eventually. Though I never know how to react when people say I’m courageous or strong, I see where that assumption comes from. They hear about all I’ve been through, and they’re amazed that I’m as happy or bubbly as I seem to be. But you know what? I’ve met some kids with Down Syndrome, which is a genetic condition that causes delays in mental and physical development, and they are some of the happiest kids I’ve ever met. It amazes me, but at the same time, I understand. It’s so much easier to be happy than to give in to the pain, fear, and hard memories that can lead to unhappiness. So, maybe I am fearless. But if given the chance, wouldn’t you rather fly and fall instead of keeping your wings tucked away and simply never knowing?