Monday, October 27, 2008

Finding Your Note

"You don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note." --Doug Floyd

A few weekends ago, hubby and I yanked out the guitars, plugged in the vintage amps and took the digital recording equipment out for a spin. One of the classic songs we worked on is a long-time favorite: "Wild Horses" by the Rolling Stones. I memorized this tune back at the tender age of nineteen *gasp!* and to this day relish the intricate chord changes and plaintive lyrics. Love it, love it, love it… Except for one pesky little detail. Singing in the dreaded key of G.

Now I could transpose the chords or slap on a capo but for the accompanying lead guitarist, that’s a pain in the arse. There are those too who would argue that the richness and depth of the original chords are compromised.

Flash back to a few days earlier. Sipping a fine glass of cabernet, we’d been listening to the "Rolling Stones Rarities" album. The version on this disc has a blues feel, more vibrant and intense. Something about the husky tone in Mick's wail reverberated inside my soul. I just *knew*. The urge to redo the song thundered in my veins. So after hubby patiently arranged the microphones just so, and we dashed through the chord changes a couple of times, we gave it a go.

"Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to." ~George Seaton

The first verse came out in a wobbly squeak rather like an adolescent boy pushing maturity. A sure sign of the frustrating inability to Find My Note. Yet when the haunting chorus came around, I somehow magically tapped in. Faltering at first, but I could *feel* the correct pitch somewhere deep within my bones. By the second verse, I miraculously clung to the note for a few more seconds, astonished to hear myself singing in this impossible key. What a wild, incredible, brilliant rush. Yet… Could I hold it?

"Trust your own instinct. Your mistakes might as well be your own, instead of someone else's." ~Billy Wilder

Each time I'd begin anew… The exhilaration would snatch me up, toss my soul into the wind and I’d thrill in a wave of ecstasy hearing the clear chime of My Note. Up until that fateful moment when I realized (with a rush of stark fear) what I was doing… *snort* At which point, my voice would once again wobble and squeak and my spirits would plunge down to the ground. *rueful chuckle*

The process fascinated me. As soon as I let my thoughts wander over to an observation of my actions I’d lose focus. An image popped in my mind. The classic Warner Bros. cartoons where, in his eternal quest to snare the clever Roadrunner, Wile E. Coyote would race off the cliff, legs windmilling wildly. His nimble feet would carry him several feet into the air until a tiny pinprick of awareness would nip his consciousness and, with eyes widening in realization, he’d sneak a glance down.

Ooops!

CRASH!

Life requires a certain amount of faith. Perhaps it’s most obvious in performance mode (or while chasing an elusive Road Runner), yet it’s clear that this axiom serves throughout every aspect of our existence. I know that when I’m typing, if I stop to think about the process my speed will slow. I’ll become self-conscious, wondering if I really know what I’m doing. I'll make mistakes and often begin an endless cycle of correction, which then leads to even more mistakes. Grrrr… And that last sentence is really the crux of the matter. While most of us (whether deliberately or not) work towards a measure of self-awareness, we also must step away from being self-conscious. Meaning, we must learn to not second-guess each decision or micromanage every step of our life. Which isn’t always easy.

"Faith is reason grown courageous." ~Sherwood Eddy

What I realized during the course of the night is that even the most impossible task can be accomplished if you tune in just right. Not to say that one can bypass the effort required to move past the blocks, whether it be learning the chords, striving to understand the process of plotting, delving into the particulars of mixing hues on a palette, or even distinguishing between an intrusive weed and potential bud in your soon-to-be-blossoming creation.

"Faith is a passionate intuition." ~William Wordsworth

Yet one thing remains clear. It is that initial “tuning in” process that carries us through. Whatever you dream, whatever you yearn for, can be accomplished. For writers, we must close our critical "mind's eye" and open our hearts to trust in the process of creation. Trust that the characters will spring to life and the light of inspiration will reveal an amazing story just waiting to be shared. We all have to have to trust that we can and will Find Our Note. Let the fingers fly and your soul sing!

This week I'm working on a scene that's been sticking a bit. Hope to nail it down and move on.

Goals:

15 new pages.
Weekly essay.

How about you?

--Chiron

PS.. I also want to let you know that if you like my weekly essays and want the motivational boost every week, you can sign up to be a follower of my blog. Just click on the notice at the top of the page. You'll get a notice every week when the new essay appears. Thanks so much!

2 comments:

Angela Guillaume said...

Therapists call this "analysis-paralysis"...when we stop to analyze our actions long enough for us to get "out of the zone". So often, if we pause to THINK about something, the only thing we manage to do is to lose our vision and go back to square one. Yet when we simply DO, and keep that faith running, who knows the amazing things we can do? Great blog, Chiron. I really enjoyed reading this!

hugs,
Angela
x

Chiron said...

Wow, that's a great phrase. Really sums it up!

Thanks so much for your comments, my dear!

And a HUGE thank-you for signing up!!

--Chiron