So, I’m dating a guitarist. This is probably not as cool as you’re thinking. I’m not backstage at a Melissa Etheridge concert, watching my woman rock out while barely dressed women throw their underwear around. Mostly, I just hear a lot of really great music coming from the music room. Sometimes, I hear “strum, strum, strum, shit. Strum, strum, strum, shit.” Still, I love it. Something amazing happens to my brain when I am sitting at my computer, working on school work or a short story or my novel and there is live music coming from the next room or across the breakfast table from me. Live music does something to me that just listening to a CD or my Ipod cannot quite recreate. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s being played by someone I love… or maybe just the fact that it is personal and imperfect, yet beautiful. Whatever the reason, listening to it opens my creativity and allows me to work with ease. The ideas flow better; it is easier for me to think and create.
I think that it is because creativity begets creativity. I am in the presence of someone who is audibly learning and discovering and digging into those deep places where learning takes place. Writing is a pretty quiet activity. (I mean, except for those times when I am suffering from writer’s block and I grab my hair and say, “fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.”) Music is a shared activity, whether the musician intended it to be shared or not. Writing is not. I can call a friend and read a passage out loud to her or send a short story to a friend, but it still isn’t the same as immersing someone in my creative process, the way I can become immersed in my girlfriend’s process.
It’s kind of changed my outlook, though. Sitting with a couple of her friends, listening to them play and sing together, it struck me that I could probably write song lyrics, too. I mean, why not? It isn’t really any different than writing a poem, and unlike poetry, people actually *like* songs that rhyme. Of course, I’m not discounting the fact that I dislike writing poetry so much that I once wrote a poem about hating poetry for a class assignment. Granted, I did get an A.
But it isn’t just branching out into other writing genres. I’ve recently borrowed a banjo from a friend and have been practicing it for a little every day. My notes are getting a little cleaner. I think I’ve kind of fallen in love with the instrument. I’ve already decided that I need to buy a banjo and find someone to give me lessons when I get back to Ohio. And I got a drum. A djembe. That’s next on my list of instruments to try to master. I am going to a drumming circle in a couple of weeks. I figure they will either tell me that I suck, or welcome me into the fold. Either way, it will be something new and exciting and why the hell not?
I honestly never thought I would be trying to learn a musical instrument at the age of 42. But then, I never thought I would write a novel at the age of 41. And I never thought I would one day be living on the royalties of that novel while I write my second novel. And I certainly never thought that one day, I would be able to say that I am only ten classes away from getting my BA in English at the ripe old age of (if I graduate at this time next year) 43! Well, creative does beget creativity and the more you stretch and flex those creative muscles, the stronger they become. Who knows? Maybe next, I’ll learn to play the trombone. Or perhaps I’ll become fluent in Italian. Or maybe…. well, maybe I’ll just focus on finishing my second novel and mastering the banjo for now.
Check back with me next year, though. You might be amazed.