Friday, February 5, 2010

Learning to Write

My nephew, Jared Mahone, is working on a project to write record and publish one new song every week of the year. This week his blog was about reworking a song I wrote in the van on the way to King's Island, what now must be years ago. His blog reads in part:

"Neal has always been a writer of many forms and encouraged me and now his kids to learn and refine the craft. This particular informal training session, as I understand it, was on a family trip back from an amusement park. Neal, my cousin Martin, and my cousin Lucas were riffing lines about things they hated."

Jared Mahone Mixtape Project blog.

I would love to take credit for encouraging anyone to write, but I am just one cog in the stream of family genetics. I say that to tell two stories:

Story one...

This week the new issue of the Astrolabe is due. In fact, it was due on Tuesday. What day is it- today is Not Tuesday. We are doing three short articles in this issue. Though I am not the author of any, I have been editing and rewriting all week. I have also had to write the directors log. I like, however, that both Rory and Jessica will have published articles in this issue. I think for both of them this will be their first professional publication.

This is all we have been doing this week. It is 8:17 on Friday night. I am in one of the top ten vacation destinations in the world, and I am still editing.

Story two...

My blue Dell laptop is stored in the hurricane proof closet off the master bedroom. This computer contains my dissertation and my first book. Every once in a while I get the computer out turn it on, and every time a read this story.

King Pickle is in a pickle
by Lucas Hitch

"There was once was a pickle named King Pickle. He liked the sound of his name so much that it became an pickletion. He made a pickle that everyone would have to use his name in every sentence. No one could pickle his pickle. Even the words in the pickle were all changed to pickle. It was easy to pickle the outcome of his pickle. The King was pickled for bad pickle, and his reign received a pickle. Now he was really in a pickle."

I don't remember how old Lucas was when he wrote that, but I think is is funny every time I read it. It is good because it is a word puzzle and makes you think about semantics, vocabulary, and word choice.

* * * *

I rarely get to write songs anymore. This is a bummer to me and I wish it was different. But the process of writing songs is one of word craft. The more you write, the better you become at writing. This works for music. This works for school essays. This works for writing a public history publication with a circulation of 38,000 magazines.

But I still sit in my living room and play songs I wrote twenty years ago, and this is still one of my favorite thing to do.

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