Playlist: Precipitation

… Like the fingers of angels drawing life from the parched ground. 

Rain and music have always felt like a part of the same continuum to me, so maybe that’s why I have linked them so inextricably in my novel. Naturally, my fascination with rain led to a playlist, and to coincide with the wettest month of the year in the midwestern United States, I offer this one.

Lots of variety here, folk, rock, retro, alternative. It seems lots of songwriters share my affinity for stormy weather. Enjoy!

Nice Weather for Ducks Lemon Jelly Lost Horizons
Rain In The Summertime The Alarm Eye of the Hurricane
Shadows In The Rain The Police Zenyatta Mondatta
Fool In The Rain Led Zeppelin In Through The Out Door
It Never Rains Dire Straits Love Over Gold
Flood Jars of Clay Jars of Clay
Tired of the Rain Black Stone Cherry Black Stone Cherry
Everyone Thinks I’m a Raincloud (When I’m Not Looking) Guided by Voices Half Smiles of the
So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry) REM Reckoning
Prayers For Rain The Cure Disintegration
Rainy Monday Shiny Toy Guns We Are Pilots
Naked Eye Luscious Jackson Fever In Fever Out
Let It Rain [Radio Edit] 4 Strings Ultra. Trance 2
Purify Balligomingo Purify Remixes EP
Reign UNKLE & Ian Brown Never, Never, Land
When the Rain Falls (12” Version) Mike Monday Smorgasbord
November Rain Guns N’Roses Use Your Illusion I
Steel Rain Chris Cornell Euphoria Morning
Love, Reign O’er Me Pearl Jam Love, Reign O’er Me (As featured in the Motion Picture “Reign Over Me”)
Let It Rain Eric Clapton Eric Clapton
Riders On The Storm The Doors L.A. Woman
The Rain Song Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy
MLK U2 The Unforgettable Fire
Here Comes the Rain Again Coury Palermo Boxsideout V.I.
Florida Rain Matt Bauer The Island Moved In The Storm

Click here to listen to this playlist on youtube. 

What’s your favorite song about precipitation?

Character Interview: Who's Teaching Who?

It’s been almost two years since Nick and I first got to know each other. Sometimes I wonder if he’s still there; if we can still talk like we used to. Can I still conjure him up? Or have I lost my touch?

I head out to the woods to find out. I have some questions about his buddy Milo.

Like the Cheshire cat, the first thing I see when Nick appears is his grin. I notice the years haven’t changed him much as he leans on a convenient tree in front of me, hands in his pockets, his baseball hat keeping his unruly hair out of his eyes.

“Back on conflict arcs again, babe?”

“Babe?” I raise my eyebrows.”Where did that come from?”

“Just goofin’ around. It’s spring; it makes everyone a little goofy.”

Yeah, I’ve noticed that too. My pen hangs poised over the page, and I wait. For answers. Nick? Answers, please?

“If you want an answer, you’ll need to ask a question first.” Nick sounds so matter-of-fact, he could easily be the one teaching me to write, instead of me trying to impose my story upon him. “I’m waiting…” he prompts me.

“It’s about Milo.”

“Is that the last conflict arc?”

“I think so, except for the one with the song.”

“The song is a character?”

“You would know that better than I, wouldn’t you?” I ask him.

His eyes scrunch in the most appealing way as he appears to process this.

“About Milo?” I remind him. “When did you get to be friends?”

“In college. My parents wanted me to study medicine, remember? He was in my biology class–or was it anatomy–” He grins. “I can’t remember.”

“Did you study together?”

More grinning. “Well, he studied.”

“What do you mean, he studied? You didn’t cheat your exams, did you?”

He lets me stew about this, before reassuring me. “Nah, I just took the low grade. Didn’t want the parents to think I’d be much of a doctor.”

“You would have made a better doctor than some of the ones I’ve met.”

“Not what I was meant for, remember?”

“Yeah, I remember. But, tell me more about Milo.”

“Milo was always weird. Needed to get out more. He read books by Carl Jung, and Sigmund Freud, and Kant. Talked about philosophy and religion. I always told him he needed to lighten up. It’s okay to think about stuff, but man, you gotta live it to understand it. You know what I mean?”

“I do, Nick, I do,” I say as I scribble down everything he’s told me.

When the wind blows on my skin, reminding me that I’m alive, I can hear Nick mock me.

“You’re afraid I’m going to leave, aren’t you?” he asks.

“Well. A little, yes,” I admit.

“You shouldn’t be. Is that why you’re afraid to finish the revision?”

“I’m not afraid of the revision.” But I know he won’t believe me. I can’t lie to my own characters.

“Really? You keep saying you’re going to cut that second scene, and it’s been …” He ticks the weeks off on his fingers, frowning. “Two…three weeks.”

“I’m thinking this Sunday. I might have a block of time to tackle it. But I’d really like to get through the outline before I do that.”

Nick looks dubious. The wind tousles his dark hair. No grey yet. He’s gone all young on me, reminding me that, even as I get older, he’ll always be the same.

“You sure?” he asks. “‘Cuz I bet you’ll want to do the time line, and reorganize the scenes.” He fixes his stormy eyes on mine. “Again.”

“I’m doing all I can, Nick. There’s this editing challenge–fifty hours in March, and I don’t know how I’m going to fit that many hours in. I’m not even sure I’m up to this. Other writers have nothing but line edits between them and a finished novel. I’ve got … a full rewrite, and then who knows, I still might not be close to finished. There must be something wrong with me. I’m not much of a writer, you know—”

He holds up a hand, shaking his head. “You’re cutting yourself down again. And I can’t let you do that to yourself.”

I study him, in all his graceful, fluid, steely eyed, dark-clad glory. His very existence is an affirmation of my abilities. I want to cry with joy in this moment. This ecstasy that is writing saved my life, my soul. Without it, I would drink myself into a stupor or worse. Instead I savor every day that is given to me, reflect upon the miracle of being alive, and leave a river of words to mark its passing.

If only I were as eloquent in my novels as I am in my journal.

Nick has meandered off into the trees, and looks back at me occasionally to see if I have finished yet. I’m still writing, agonizing about what I should do next.

Wandering back to my side, he watches the words creep onto the page with interest.

“Nothing about me?” he asks.

“What do you want me to write about you?”

“Hmm….” He thinks for a moment. “Have you described my guitar– the black Strat?”

“Not really. But I could, I guess. I’d really like to see more pictures …”

He drags my pen across the page to make the words. “Curves like a woman. Ebony, shimmering under the lights. We left her at the Hacienda. That was the only lucky thing about that night.”

“Maybe if you’d brought her–it– with you things would have been different. Maybe Libra guided you to it because it–she is your destiny. Wait … she gave it to you didn’t she?”

Nick lets go of my pen and smiles triumphantly.

“When did she give it to you?” I ask. “For your birthday? When was your birthday? Was your sign Libra just like hers was? Or did she give it to you for Christmas? Is this important?”

Nick paces, letting the wind press his t-shirt against his spine, his fine-boned physique appearing fragile for someone so fearless.

“She sold the coat–the fur coat–to get you the guitar, didn’t she?”

“Maybe.” He stuffs his hands back in his pockets.

“You’re not going to tell me any more?” I ask. “Where does one buy a nice guitar in the 1960’s?”

“Looks like you’ll need to do some research, won’t you?”

I sigh. “Yeah. But that’s okay. You done good, Nick. But can you hold that thought? I have to stop for a while–”

He shrugs and gives a lopsided grin designed to send my heart aflutter. “I’ve got all night.”

Sadly, I close my notebook.

“Should I walk you home?” he asks.

“I would like that,” I reply. Avoiding the puddles in our path, he walks beside me, sharing this last bit of a sunny afternoon. Sometimes I think this ghost in my mind will be the only one to completely understand me.

What ghosts walk across your pages?

Revising the Revision

Hello fellow Insecure Writers!

Wow. After only three months of participation in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, I’m pleased to announce that I’m already noticing the positive effects. When I started, I had so many topics and so many insecurities to write about that I had my posts ready two weeks ahead of time. I was so insecure that I didn’t even know where to start.

Thanks everyone, for all your support and encouragement and comments! They really help. One of the reasons I write this blog is to become more confident about sharing my writing with the world, and the Insecure Writer’s Support Group has been a huge part of that.

This month I had my topic of insecurity ready a week ahead of time. What a relief, though, to let it all hang out and be insecure about this for a few hundred words.

I’m revising my first novel. It’s taking me a while, and I expect that. But here’s the rub. The writing course I’m in (How To Revise Your Novel) advises doing one pass, doing it right, and then moving on to the next story. If this pass can’t fix my story nothing can, the thinking goes. I guess.

However, I’m getting a little off course with this revision. I got as far as tearing the first draft to bits, and rewriting the whole thing from an outline. There were some parts I hadn’t figured out yet as I wrote, hoping that I could just patch them in later. I didn’t want to stop revision entirely, and wait for some inspiration. I figured the best way to get story lightning to strike was to be sitting at my desk, writing, when it happened.

Oh, happy day. It finally did happen. I grabbed it on a yellow legal pad as I was sitting at work one day. The whole thing pretty much flowed out of my brain onto the paper–the thread I needed to hold the whole story together.

But now I have a nearly polished manuscript, with some scenes that just don’t make a whole lot of sense in it. I’m going back for a second pass, tearing apart the manuscript again—literally with a scissors and glue—to paste in what needs to be there. Every fiber of my budding story-telling instinct tells me that I need to do this. I can’t do otherwise.

So, what’s the problem, you ask?

The above mentioned course. One pass, remember?

And there’s that quote by Robert A Heinlein–only revise to editorial request. His advice:

  1.  You must write. (Check)
  2.  You must finish what you write. (Check)
  3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order. (Oops.)
  4. You must put the work on the market. (I will!)
  5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold. (While I write the next one.)

(Appeared in the 1947 essay “On the Writing of Speculative Fiction.”

I’m a beginner. I need to revise to learn to write. Right?

A part of me knows I need to do this. But, a part of me is asking, “Am I being a hopeless beginner who is falling into the rewriting and redrafting trap, a death spiral of editing that will never end until I finally give up in disgust?”

I’m not sure. That’s why I’m insecure. This feels like the right direction for me to take, but then, I hear other voices telling me otherwise. Am I doing the right thing by revising once more?

I’ve promised myself, this pass, then let the beta readers guide me on what to do next.

How about you? Do you revise all your work? Have you revised more than once? Was the result worth the effort?

To visit the other fine writers participating in Alex J. Cavanaugh‘s Insecure Writer’s Group blog hop, follow this link.