Blood and Bones Mix 3

I may be hard at work typing my heart out, but there’s always time for music. I wouldn’t get through most days without it, let alone 30 days of isolation-style writing. So here it is. Back at it with my most recent mixtape list:

  1. Let’s Be Still – The Head and the Heart (One of the loveliest time-out-from-real-life songs I’ve ever heard)
  2. On the Line – Night Riots (My NaNoWriMo 2018 kick-off song! “Digging dreams out of the fire, feeling the doubt getting tighter, no backing down, take me higher!”)
  3. Unholy War – Jacob Banks
  4. *Starboy – The Weeknd, Daft Punk (for better or worse, this is now the song to celebrate my first draft of the Blood and Water manuscript–I just kept saying “look what I’ve done!” to the tune, which had to be followed by “I’m a muthafckn starboy!” PS those are pretty much the only lyrics I understand which makes me feel super-old but it doesn’t stop me from loving the beat)
  5. Stomp Me Out – Bryce Fox
  6. Smoked Out of Heaven – Saint Claire (“All of those tiny hollows”…Possibly my favorite song ever. Broken and beautiful and so poetic…and, not that this will mean anything to anyone but my mom–yet–but it is also a perfect song for my main character towards the end of Book 1/start of Book 2)
  7. The Sound of Silence – Disturbed (sorry Simon & Garfunkel, this version gives me chills every time)
  8. Come Follow Me Down – George Taylor (Fun fact: this music video has snakes in it, so now we’re all stuck waiting until enough time has passed for the video to end before I click back into YouTube to look for the next video…)
    snakes
  9. Bury Me Face Down – grandson
  10. Gladiator – Zayde Wølf (find me a better pump-up song, I dare you!)
  11. Marble Floors – Vian Izak, Through Juniper Vale (oh, the whimsy)
  12. Demons – Jacob Lee

You can find the full YouTube list here. If you missed my previous playlists and are interested, you can find Mix 1 here and Mix 2 here.

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I’m Me

I’ve had a hard week or two. Nothing super-awful — I gave a presentation for the first time in WAY too many years and to say I was a bit rusty is an understatement. I had such uncomfortable, panicky anxiety building up to it (and I pretty much panic-blacked-out during it)… and I think some residual anxiety stuck around even afterwards because I’ve been catastrophizing all week. I kept waking up from stress dreams and fighting off panic attacks for smaller events coming up.

I know therapy works because I was able to acknowledge my anxious feelings. I was brave enough to sit with the gut-punched sickness and explore the lies swelling my heart. I could even follow the feelings back to the first few times I ever felt similarly, to the heart of the anxiety and understand it in a way I never have.

That in itself is a huge, amazing thing I would not have been able to do at this time two years ago.

Usually, when I start to get really anxious, I ask myself what’s the worst that could happen? This is a really stupid question, because practically — logically — the WORST ending would be death, or getting fired, or something equally dramatic.

Image result for or worse expelled gif

So another thing I realized is I’m not anxious about the worst happening — I’m anxious about the let downs. The discomfort of disappointing someone. Of being seen as a failure. Inside my anxiety, that scenario is worse than death or losing my job or getting salmonella poisoning (which was another small concern this week after a kitchen mishap that led to me ingesting a microscopic amount of raw chicken).

But this time, not only could I half-encourage myself with such mantras as “I’ll survive” or “it will be ok”, I realized I am prepared if the “worst” should happen and I disappoint someone. I have been through this feeling before — and I have let people down in the past. And even if worse came to “worst” and I received a public dressing-down, I know how to pretend I’m fine until I reach the safety of my car or my home or my husband’s arms.

My mental processing — and the anxiety that feeds off it — may not be completely healthy or “normal”, but I am growing. And I found such comfort in being able to see how far I’ve come.

That is a whole lot more background than I initially intended to give for this post; I meant to just say ‘hey, I’ve been a little stressed, here are some tunes that help me’…but that’s the way life goes. If you can relate at all — or anytime you need a little “I am awesome” pick-me-up — maybe you’ll find one of these helpful.

  1. I’m Me – Us The Duo (to remind me I’m pretty great just the way I am)
  2. Who You Are – Madilyn Bailey (best line: “It’s okay not to be okay.”)
  3. Out of Hell – Skillet (this is the best song to tequila-tipsy-jump-around to…or blast in the car and shout-sing out the anxious feelings)
  4. Still I Fly – Roadtrip Romance (most uplifting part: “gotta learn to grow, watch me as I touch the sky…”)
  5. Me Too – Meghan Trainor  (between the sassy beat and the confidence-oozing lyrics, this song is a surefire ego-booster — I don’t care how overplayed it might be)
  6. *Control – Halsey (on the flip side, this one gets me angry at my fears and reminds me “I’m meaner than my demons”)
  7. Unsteady / So Alive – Haley Klinkhammer (This combines two great songs into one that resonates so powerfully with me)
  8. Bird Set Free – Sia (the whole chorus is so beautiful and another powerful thing to belt out)
  9. *You Don’t Own Me – Grace, G-Eazy (Another song that both pumps up the ego and gets me a little angry at the feelings trying to hold me down)
  10. *I’m Ready – Niykee Heaton (favorite part: “over trembling floors, I’m steady. But they’ve written my death already so many times, but this fire won’t die.”)

The whole playlist can be found on YouTube here, or if you’re *really* interested, you can follow my playlist I Am Enough on Spotify for approximately 90 songs of ego-boosting reminders that I am enough just as I am.

What’s you’re favorite pick-me-up song?

Blood and Bones Mix 2

As you know, I’ve been writing, and a big part of my writing process is music. I’ve been re-exploring old playlists as well as combing through my “Discover Weekly” options through Spotify to come up with another list of songs that have been on repeat in my head — even when Spotify is turned off. Several of these songs can relate to different scenes and characters I’m writing, some are just fun to blast in the car or dance to around the apartment (two, coincidentally, are my nephew’s favorite songs to ‘drop it low’ to — added to my playlist before I’d ever even seen his sweet 14-month-old-dance-moves but now will forever be favorites).

Once again, I don’t watch music videos, but I’ve provided links if interested. This time I’ve also starred the ones that might come with ‘parental advisory’ labels (meaning I’m advising you, Mom: there are swear words).

  1. Numb — Adam Jensen
  2. No Roots — Alice Merton
  3. Cringe – Stripped — Matt Maeson
  4. Torches — X Ambassadors
  5. Everybody Gets High* — MISSIO (love the little drop around 2 minutes)
  6. Batshit* — Sofi Tukker (love the pause around 1:30)
  7. Hymn* — Kesha
  8. Oh My Dear Lord — The Unlikely Candidates
  9. Stone Cold — Demi Lovato (the outro starting at 2:20 is everything)
  10. Love on the Brain* — Rihanna (love the sultry/smoky/jazzy sound)
  11. Broken Bones — Kaleo

The whole list can be found on my Spotify here.

Blood and Bones Mix 1

It’s no secret how much I love music. I’ve talked about it often enough on here. For lack of anything better to write about (and because I am really loving these tunes), below is a list of my top songs of the moment. These are the songs that crawl under my skin and roll through my blood and settle in my bones, the songs that haunt me until I play them one more time before falling asleep. I know some are pretty old, but they’re all fairly new to me. You can check out the entire playlist on Spotify here, or if you prefer YouTube, I’ve included links to the videos — but viewer beware; I don’t usually like to watch the official music videos because their story can sometimes change what the song means for me, so who knows what you may see.

Blood and Bone Mix 1

  1. Bossy — Kelis ft. Too $hort
  2. River — Eminem ft. Ed Sheeran
  3. Let it Rain — Lucidious ft. Gjr
  4. When You’re Gone — VERITE
  5. Breaking Free — Night Riots
  6. Blood / / Water — grandson
  7. Bottom of the Deep Blue Sea — MISSIO
  8. Glory Bound — Matt Hires
  9. You Didn’t Know — One Less Reason
  10. Beautiful Disaster — Lost Autumn

What songs have attached themselves to your blood and bones lately?

Writing Procrastination

“I’m going to write today.”

Easier said than done. Anxiety hides behind tiny rituals that keep me from spilling my imagination onto the page.

I settle on the couch, but I’m too cold, so I have to get my favorite slippers. I remember I jotted down some great ideas yesterday, so I should definitely read through those before getting started. While I’m at it, why not refresh my memory on the other scene variations I’ve already written?

Not every page in the notebook on my lap has been dedicated to my current work in progress. But it’s so fun to read through notes for other stories, jotted quotes, journal entries, doodles of potential titles. Here’s a fun finding — a future book dedication:
For my brother in law, who told me once I should write something and charge everyone a billion dollars. You might have meant a manual for checking electrical outlets, and this probably won’t cost a billion dollars, but I mean, close enough, right?

I wish I could remember the joke about electrical outlets, but either way, I’d better get on writing that bestseller so I can really carry that joke through to the finish line.

Now I’m getting too hot. My throat is dry — can’t expect myself to write without proper hydration!

Ok, back to the task at hand. OH WAIT! I had a GREAT idea for a spin-off story in the shower…I’ve got to jot down what I can remember about that plot…

OKAY! Time to open up the laptop and churn out a masterpiece. BUT not until I’ve got my playlist all figured out, because there’s no way I’m writing without some awesome tunes to pump me up. I love Spotify suggestions…I’ll just add several to my queue so I can discover some new inspiring songs.

Crap, I just wasted 15 minutes scrolling through songs and adding them to different writing playlists. I need to buckle down. Now, which playlist best fits what I’m hoping to write about today…ah, I’ll just start with one and probably change my mind five times and waste another ten minutes but, I mean, this is really important.

Is my husband making tea? Tea would be really great — very author-like.

Stop — no more procrastinating. I’ve had a lot of good ideas and need to take advantage of this gray, sleety day to make some progress.

After I finish this blog post…

Stealing Song Lyrics

Do you ever notice a particular line in a song that describes you exactly? Or you’re mindlessly listening to music when a lyric slaps you across the face with its poetry?


It happens to me all the time. I know I’ve written before about songs capturing the essence of “me” perfectly, but this post is about what I’ve started to do with those lines. It started at work — meaningless doodles scattered with jotted down song lyrics. Next thing I knew, a storm had erupted across the page, snippets caught in a hurricane.

I noticed a trend on Pinterest — or maybe it just seems like a trend because I’ve been pinning more and more about it — of hand-lettering. I love the idea of turning words into visual art, especially when the words themselves already provoke a visceral, art-like-response in me.

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When I had a writing corner, I’d tack these up around me for encouragement or commiseration.

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Sometimes I’d dedicate whole projects to a story, the playlist for inspiration bleeding across a page.

img_3429-1 Spotify: Writing – Beast playlist

Now that we’ve moved and my student-husband has taken over the desk, I keep the scraps of paper tucked into my planner or a favorite book, waiting to surprise me when I open to the right page.

Writing Soundtrack

I’ve read so many books and articles and blog posts full of writing tips. Tips to focus, tips for time management, tips for character development. So many of them recommend silence while writing. If you must listen to music, it can’t have words, or if there are lyrics, they should be in a language other than one you speak.

I’ve made playlists on Spotify for every work-in-progress, and some for specific characters. If I hear a song that evokes a certain feeling or perfectly describes something a character is going through, I save it to the playlist and use it for inspiration later. Most of the time, I listen to these playlists while I’m driving or sunbathing or cooking or packing. They enhance the story I’m working on and help me see characters and events in a new light, the same way music changes my perspective in my own life.

I prefer to write with one of my playlists going. Usually, I’ll start with whichever song most recently spoke to me to jog my memory of all the pre-writing I’ve done in my head, and the rest of the songs fade into the background as my writing picks up. Then I’ll hit a snag and search for a new song to prompt another scene.

It’s worked for me as long as I can remember. Sure, I catch myself singing along sometimes, but I don’t think the lyrics are as distracting as the pros warn about. I mean, I’m also the type of person who needs to mindlessly rap along with T.I. or Eminem while driving through a snowstorm or torrential downpour or other traffic situation that makes me uncomfortable.

I’ve tried listening to the soundtracks of epic movies and shows and games like Thor and Game of Thrones and Assassin’s Creed. I’ve tried creating my own mix of lyric-less songs pulled from soundtracks and classical composers and string quartet covers of popular hits. I’ve tried the Russian Rap playlist I found through Spotify to give me the sound of human voices without the words I understand (although my four semesters of Russian come rearing up and cause excitement when I do recognize a word or two).

What it comes down to for me is this: I have a lot going on in my mind. Maybe it’s quiet, constant anxiety that makes my brain spin in a thousand directions at once. Maybe everyone’s mind runs things in the background and foreground at once. All I know is I need the lyrics to pull the background focus. If the behind-the-scenes-processing part of my mind is stuck in familiar songs, the rest of my thinking can focus outward. Whether it’s keeping control of a vehicle on an icy road or pouring my heart into a half-formed story, the music — with lyrics I can learn by heart — is imperative to my writing process.