Tag Archives: Michigan writers

Classic rock and writer’s block

20 Jul

This is the Age of the Great Blog Revival. Or at least the Week.

Three of the blogs I follow – Defending Axl RoseEvery Record Tells a Story and Soul Searching at Starbucks – recently posted new content after several days/weeks/months of silence. They inspired me to find out how much I remember about WordPress.

Officially, I put the blog aside a couple of years ago to focus on fiction. I also believed I’d exhausted my organizing principle: how, in the space of a generation, rock music has gone from rebellious teens giving their parents the proverbial finger to a great way for middle-aged suburbanites to bond with their kids. And after five years, my readership numbers were way down. Fewer and fewer people appreciated my humblebragging about being fortunate enough to see Bruce Springsteen, The Killers, Weezer, Nick Cage, Aretha Franklin and Spoon in the space of a year in three different countries (ahem). When I realized that no one – really, no one – cared that I scored spot at the lip of the stage at a Heartless Bastards concert at St. Andrew’s Hall so I could watch Craig Finn flare his nostrils as the opening act, I put the blog on a shelf.

Tom Petty - 2017Then Tom Petty came to town on his 40th anniversary concert tour this week, and the spark was rekindled.

Forty years ago there probably weren’t many musicians who expected to have a career in rock and roll. It was all single by single, show by show. Back then, Tom probably couldn’t have imagined ever being 66 years old, much less singing “American Girl” in the original key at that astronomical age. Yet here he is, still playing with some of the world’s best musical craftsmen he also calls friends, having the time of his life.

That palpable joy is what Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have that most bands don’t. They really dig making music. It doesn’t look like they regret playing “Refugee” for the umpteenth zillionth time, and they bring the same fire they did in the Seventies. Tom’s delight is infectious, his gratitude genuine.

I left the venue wondering, what’s out there that could bring me that much glee?

Writing. Duh.

Therefore, after a couple of years of false starts, a whale of a day job, a lot of negative self-talk and one too many hours spent in YouTube rat holes, I am determined to get back into the habit, produce some pages and care less about what others might think of my crappy first draft.

I even struck a bargain with myself:

 

I splurged on a baseball tour shirt, paying what we in our family call “loaded old people prices” to bring it home. Then, per my older daughter’s diabolically perfect advice, I handed it over to my younger daughter to keep until I’ve produced at least 40 pages of my next story. It’ll be a tangible reward for getting back into the game. Petty would be proud.

So, here’s to all you artists out there, whether your tool of choice is a Rickenbacker or a blog post. Your dedication is my inspiration. Now,  if you’ll excuse me, I have writing to do and stories to tell … and I really want to wear that great shirt before my September birthday. As Tom sings fifty times a summer,

And if she had to die/ trying, she
Had one little promise she was gonna keep

See you on the flip side …

 

Advertisements

Soon to be featured on the Rock & Roll Bookshelf: Laura Lee

15 Dec

And now, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Laura Lee, author and blogger at The Power of Narrative.  Her second novel, Identity Theft, is available for pre-order, and given the log line, I’m going to like this one immensely: A bored employee in a rock star’s office begins an online relationship with a fan in the guise of his boss and sets off a chain of events he cannot control.

Laura was kind to feature me in an earlier post on her blog, and I am so pleased to return the favor. Here’s her guest post:

***

Laura Lee

Laura Lee

I often begin speaking engagements by explaining to the audience that I am not a British man.

Of course they can see that by looking at me. It is less obvious, it seems, when they only have a page of writing to consider. Apparently I am linguistically androgynous. The editor who worked on one of my books referred to me throughout her notes as “he.” There was also a brief period after my novel Angel was published that the internet decided I was a gay man and started showing me ads for gay luxury travel and dating sites on every web page. So I find that it is helpful just to put it out there that I am not male, gay or otherwise.

Throughout the years a number of professional reviewers have referred to me as “British author Laura Lee.” I never claimed to be from England. The reviewers came to this conclusion on their own. I am not sure if the different reviewers read my writing and independently imagined I sounded British or if one person did and the others picked up on this mistake via internet research.

I was born and raised in metro Detroit.

I did spend a year in the UK as an exchange student my junior year in college and I returned for six months with a work visa following my graduation with a highly lucrative diploma as an independent major in theater studies. But my supposed Englishness manifested itself long before that. When I was still in high school a friend of mine said, “You have a very British sense of humor.”

I said, “What do you mean a British sense of humor?”

She said, “You know, dry and not very funny.”

This remains one of the best things that has ever been said about my writing. I love its unintentional humor so much that I have tried to use this in biographical blurbs a number of times. The marketing folks at my various publishers, as if to prove the point, always ask me to cut it out.

“You can’t say that you’re not very funny.”

Of course not. I am frightfully droll.

I cannot be sure, of course, that my high school friends should be cited as as authorities on things British. Another friend of mine around this time noticed that I had two copies of the Adam and the Ants album Prince Charming. One was the regular U.S. release, the other was the U.K. import with a gatefold sleeve. She asked me what the difference was between the two albums and I told her that one of them was British.

“It’s British?” she asked with what seemed like too much excitement.

“Yeah.”

“You man they’re singing in British?”

“Um. Yeah.”

“Can I hear it?”

I put the record on and she looked crestfallen. “They’re just singing in English,” she said. She thought I had been playing a joke on her.

To be clear, it is not only Americans who have trouble with this kind of thing. When I was in London once, I was visiting a friend’s family. The mother was watching Starsky and Hutch on TV. She asked where I was from. I said, “Michigan.” She squinted and asked if we had Starsky and Hutch in my country.

Americans pronounce Michigan as though it were spelled with an “sh” in the middle. In England, they insist upon pronouncing it as it is spelled– even though they pronounce Worchestershire as if there were basically no distinct letters in the middle of the word at all. She had no idea what this “Mishigan” place was.

Laura Lee book imageI have finally had the opportunity to put my mock-Englishness to use in my forthcoming novel Identity Theft. The novel tells the story of a British pop star who goes by the stage name Blast and a young man who works in his office. The office worker, Ethan, poses as his boss online and starts flirting with a fan in e-mail and chats. I had to create two voices, one a young American who pretends to be English and is comically inept and the other a real Englishman who has been living in Los Angeles for a decade and whose dialect, with any luck, does not elicit laughs. For this I enlisted the help of a couple of real live British-speaking English type people to help me edit my Americanisms out of Blast’s speech. A few slip in– you see– I’m American.

But this time around I will be especially pleased– chuffed– if a review of the novel begins,”British author Laura Lee has chosen “identity” as the theme for his second novel…”

See you on the flip side, Laura!

Sixty Something

Observations, insights, hindsight, and forward thinking

timeweleftthisworldtoday

This world's so mixed up everywhere you go

keepsmealive

"No dress rehearsal, this is our life."

No Rhyme Or Reason

Positive/Thought Provoking Essays on One Fan's Love of Music

mikeladano.com

LeBrain's Record Store Tales & Reviews

the EARL of SWIRL

"to be average scares the hell out of me"

KURT★BRINDLEY

writing ★ producing ★ editing

Every Hit Song Ever...from A to Z!

Talk about.........Pop Music!

All You Need Is The Beatles

Musical musings on all things...well...musical!

Publication Coach

Beating writer's block, writing faster, writing tips, better writing, editing, communications consulting

The Immortal Jukebox

A Blog about Music and Popular Culture

PLAY IT LOUD!

Heavy Metal & Hard Rock 1980-1990

Music And Arts Connection

SPECIALIZING in LIAISON AND SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT for INDEPENDENT MUSICIANS.

Groove

Digital Technology/Analog Grooves

Television Blues

A new online music channel

Mixed Tape Masterpiece

an ode to the songs (and radio stations) that shaped my life

Cave of Fame

Digging through relics while becoming one myself