Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Healing Power of Music

"Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows. Lies the seed, that with the sun's love in the spring becomes the rose." --from "The Rose" by Gordon Wills, sung by Bette Midler

My mother had an amazing voice and she love, love, loved to sing. I remember how she'd hum her favorite hymns as she washed dishes or ironed my dad's shirts, and especially when she sat at her sewing machine.  I'd watch her lean into the lever with her knee, pushing the fabric past the needle, bubble-tipped straight pins clenched firmly between her lips. I always worried she'd accidentally swallow one but she never did. And she never stopped humming.

I don't know if I inherited my mother's voice, but I'm pretty sure my love for music came from her. From the time I was a small child, I'd volunteer to sing in church and auditioned for school musicals. At the age of twelve my older sister Mary Beth gave me a beginner guitar, a thing my other sister Nita never forgave her for because I considered that guitar a license to sing all the live long day. Singing brought me joy. It brought Nita to tears, and not in a good way.

When I created the character of Isabelle, wife to the Rev. Henry Carter and mother to four daughters in THIS I KNOW, I gave her my own mother's beautiful voice. And then I took it away from her when Mrs. Carter suffers an unbearable loss. I wanted the reader to feel her deafening silence, how grief not only stills our hearts, it will come like a thief for your tongue and the soul that feeds it. But also how music just might be the one thing to make you feel whole again.

The other day I drove home from a literary event feeling exhausted. Not just from a busy day, but from the heaviness of recent heartbreaking news, the dreadful political noise, and not knowing how to rise above the ennui resulting from day-to-day information overload. I have so much to be happy about--a new book coming out, living where other people vacation, and exceptional good health. And yet here I was, sighing as I exited the 101 toward the Pacific coast.

I turned on the radio hoping to cheer myself up. I surfed from channel-to-channel without landing on the perfect song. I turned it off again, choosing the hum of tires on pavement over bubblegum pop. It was in the silence that I heard my mother whisper, "Come on, Donna Sue." That's what she called me when she was being playful. "Sing us a song." 

And so I did. I sang, nay, belted out a rendition of The Rose that cleared the fog from my lungs and the dread from brain. I sang it three times until, pulling into the driveway, I felt an imaginary pair of wings unfold as I emptied myself from the car and floated into the house.

What about you? Is there a song that lifts you out of a funk? What was your relationship with music growing up? 


THIS I KNOW by Eldonna Edwards releases 04.24.18

"Once in a while you read a book that just takes your breath away with its beauty and truth. This I Know is such a book.This is one of the most beautiful coming of age stories I’ve ever read, and it will stay with me for a long, long time."  --Rosemary S., Librarian

Monday, February 5, 2018

What Was I Thinking?

Work in Progress
My beau secretly snapped this photo in a rare moment of what appears to be me taking a break. I am not on a break, I'm working. Having recently turned in the manuscript for my second novel, I've started pondering Book #3. You can't see it, but if thoughts were literal bubbles around our heads, mine would block out the ocean and the mountain behind it. (Yeah, I know. Rough setting, right?)

Writers often hear things like, "You're so lucky. You get to sit around and just make up stories instead of going to a job." I am lucky and I do get to play with words, but it's a job--one that I don't ever leave. Every single experience becomes an opportunity to explore as a possible scene. Every person I meet gets filed away in a collage of traits that make up future characters. Every sound, every smell, every touch; they're all pieces swimming around in my head trying to find their way to the page. And that's just the writing part. PR and marketing are a whole 'nother ballgame.

Several years ago I took a stab at meditation. It didn't go so well. Apparently some people the luxury of neat little organized brain compartments. My brain is more like a pinball machine, with thoughts racing and bouncing faster than I can write them down. And yet I'm grateful for this. I love my job, I really do. I manifested it! But when I look at this picture I realize I also manifested moving to California, living near the ocean, and a beloved companion who pauses to snap a pic of his partner deep in thought on a sunny day in Avila Beach.

So as I close my laptop and head out to the back deck, I'm going to try and leave my work-in-process right here in my office, along with these forming characters, plot lines, and settings. Because sometimes you have to take time to live your own story, yes? In the meantime, caption the photo above for a chance to win a "THIS I KNOW" lined notebook (pictured below). I'll choose a random name from comments here and on my Facebook Page. Go!