Saturday, February 04, 2012

Band Aid - An Annoying Personal Update

So I watched Almost Famous again last night. I am not ashamed to admit this is one of my favorite films. Hands down. Not least because the music of this period, the early 1970's, lies deep within my own heart as the only really great rock music. Just take the song above, written by writer/director Cameron Crowe and his wife, guitarist/singer from Heart, Nancy Wilson. Anyone who knows anything about rock music from the era will recognize the verse/chorus break as a rip-off from Bad Company's eponymous song. I don't consider myself a Bad Company fan by any means, but this sweet little nod in their direction makes me smile every time I hear it.

As I wrote yesterday, I've been writing full time for the past couple months. For years I've had this idea in my head, telling the story of a band from its beginnings to its very last concert. This has been the perfect opportunity to take all the things I want to say about music and put it out there. I worked diligently, day after day, for weeks on the manuscript. Then, just before Christmas, the story just died. For days on end, I would end my day with great reluctance, because I couldn't wait to sit down and just keep writing. One morning, though, not only could I not pick up the thread where I'd left it the day before.

There was no thread.

I spent several days writing and deleting, writing and deleting, all in what was ultimately a vain attempt to find that thread. 86,000 words, and I had absolutely nothing to show for it. The incomplete manuscript has sat there, taunting me as I've worked on a series of short stories, aborted story ideas, blah-blah-blah. The longer story ideas - everything from yet another older idea I had about AIDS, religion, and homosexuality in a small town in Indiana in the early 1980's to an attempt at a fantasy story - were, I think, more refuges than anything. Me trying to divert attention away from this story that I desperately wanted to tell, but just couldn't.

Watching that film last night, I found that missing thread. In fact, it was so obvious, I started laughing. I'm glad Lisa was asleep on the couch, because she would have wondered if I'd lost my mind. This marvelous movie, expressing Crowe's long-standing love for the music of his youth, wanting to tell his road stories, having been a fifteen year old kid touring with The Allman Brothers Band, a sixteen year old touring with Led Zeppelin and Neil Young and Crazy Horse, stood there with that lost thread, holding it out to me.

This doesn't mean the way ahead is easy. On the contrary. While I have that thread in my hand, and look forward to weaving it through the rest of the story I want to tell, I have a whole lot of work ahead of me. Not least because of the way I've decided to structure it, I've given myself a far more complicated story than I might otherwise. Also, from where I left off with the story, I am, roughly, just shy of half way through. Several weeks of intense writing lie ahead. Then there's the fallow period, then the re-write and polishing stage.

I'm just so happy to have that thread back in my hand. I owe it all to Cameron Crowe's marvelous movie.

Virtual Tin Cup

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