I was going to write about all the things I have coming up—I have gone slightly crazy with launches this fall—but I was sidetracked by the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion.
Pretty soon I’m going to tell you NOT to register for the call I’m doing tonight on Sustaining Your Creativity with the 4 S’s and NOT to sign up for news of The Algebra of Snow ebook release. For reasons.
But first I’m going to talk about the way I get inspired when I go to the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion. I love music. I especially love roots and indie music. I grew up with a complex dad who was a wild liberal except when it came to his daughter, when he became the scion of the old Virginia family he actually was and surprised and confused heck out of me. But one thing that was completely reliable and straightforward about him was his passionate love of music—the love of square dance music and Hungarian rhapsodies and anything that involved an accordion (perhaps to be blamed for my Zydeco addiction). So I lose my mind in music—in a good way. For reasons unconnected to music, I have lived in the places where it is so deep in the soil that it practically vibrates the air always—Texas, lower Alabama, Nashville. Now I live in the Shenandoah Valley, where people can’t help themselves but play music. Take, for instance, Bryan Elijah Smith.
So when I go to hear the (mostly) young people I am in awe of them—and inspired by them. There is always someone to be discovered—this year Whiskey Gentry, a band of young people fronted by a woman who is so smartly and deeply country she practically embodies the best of the tradition—while her talented band backs her with ease and expertise. Quiet Life is a not-so-quiet, brilliant indie band that may prove successor to a previous year’s hot discovery (and ongoing favorite), The Apache Relay. And I have a little crush, now on Grayson Capps, who is so beautiful (and his music is too) and his group (Willie Sugar Capps) so talented that I’m proud to have lived in Mobile, from whence they come.
But it was Ray Wylie Hubbard, of “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother” fame, who inspired me the most. Hubbard is such a huge talent and so funny and entertaining (when the introducer got done, Hubbard said, “That was such a great introduction, I can’t wait to hear me”), that he withstood the banishment (and self-banishment) from the country music big time when one of his albums didn’t meet the studio’s requirements of slickness and HE JUST KEPT PLAYING. He kept writing songs that are complicated (“Me and this dancer got along like—a metaphor.”) and playing in front of people and working on his guitar-playing.
So here comes the DON’T register for the call, DON’T sign up for news about the ebook part of the program.
Writing—like music—isn’t for the faint of heart. If you CAN give it up—do. Turn your back on it. Leave it in the dirt. Walk away. You won’t publish your memoir commercially unless your name is Angelina Jolie. Your novel will have to be good and you’ll have to write more of them to break into the fiction market in any remarkable way. Dale Watson has a hilarious song called “Don’t let your cowboys grow up to be sissies”—and I would say that to anyone who is thinking about writing a book, with a little twist: Don’t let your novel or memoir fall victim to your fears.
I always surprise my clients when I tell them this because I do this for a living—I coach people and I write. And the story of The Algebra of Snow—both the novel and the story of its writing and appearance in the world—isn’t an easy story. There were hardships and delays and frustrations and rejections. A lot of them. For a long time. I could put all that aside and be very, very jolly about all of our chances for huge, immediate success—I could lie.
But I’m not going to. I’m going to tell you the unvarnished truth. It ain’t easy, writing or making music and stepping into the world in your naked, vulnerable, gorgeous creativity.
And yet here we are—me and Ray Wylie Hubbard. Appearing before people. Practicing our craft. Trying to reach you.
I have had a wild love of Lucinda Williams’ music for a very long time and I was one of the few that really hung on when she went through a long period of putting out some pretty terrible music—lots a dark, guttural singing and repeated, uninteresting phrases. Oy. But she is back now, writing and singing amazing songs on her latest release. In one song, she says, “You got the power to make this big ol’ world a better place Everything’s going to change, everything but the truth.”
If the truth is that you, like those extraordinary musicians both young and old(er), at the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, are driven to make the world a better place—by singing your song, telling your story, sharing your wisdom, accompanying us along the path—then DO dial in, sign up, do a little sketch, bake a wondrous cake, make a child laugh with a silly story, or whatever it takes to come along with me and ol’ Ray Wylie Hubbard—putting it out there, wanting to entertain you, to tell you how it is so that you can say back to us—“Me, too. Here is my story.”
Because if you want to live your life with passion and get your story to the people who care and have a great fellowship along the way, then Ray, Lucinda, Whisky Gentry, Quiet Time, Bryan Elijah Smith, the many people I’ve worked with in the past and am working with now, and I–we can all can show you how.
Let us become an acquired taste together.