One of the cool pieces of writing advice I've picked up over the years is to treat this like a job: to remember to do the work, to punch the clock, to grind it out and drag the hulking beast over the finish line by grit and guts, by raw brute determination if need be. To not get so wrapped up in the "art" that you forget the simple cold fact that in order to be a professional you have to honor and respect the profession.
But there is flip side to that, too. Just as it's important to remember the business side of things, I think it's good sometimes to remember what it was—what it is—about writing that first made you fall in love with the notion of lion-taming words as a life's pursuit. To remember that feeling when some sentence or paragraph made your scalp tingle and your skin ripple with goosebumbs, made your eyes get misty and the corners of your mouth twist into an envious grin as somebody out there strung together a few words in such a manner as to make your heart race, your skin flush, your soul ache.
If you've ever read a line or heard a phrase and understood with throbbing clarity "I want to do that..." then maybe you have the soul of a writer in you.
I was noodling around online (we call it "research" in the trade—makes it seem worthwhile and valid) and stumbled across a video from one of my all-time favorite songwriters, and as I sat and listened to a shy Texan mumble 24 simple lines backed by a pair of acoustic guitars, I got that misty feeling all over again.
That's what it's about... I want to make words do that....
So as I try to remain aware of first weekend gross and market demographics and four quadrant appeal, it's nice to remember that sometimes it's just as simple as one guy, on a stool, saying what he really feels.
I was thinkin' of you when the rice birds flew
when the false dawn came with the mornin' dew
you're a thunderstorm ragin' outside my garage
you're the white shirt peekin' through my camouflage
I was thinkin' of you and I won't forget
tail of the turtle and Bayou Teche
I cannot dance but I can hang on
to some sweet memory down in Oberlin
I was thinkin' of you at the Mardi Gras
Fords and Chevies like I never saw
I wish you were here to dance with me
to hear this cajun symphony
I was thinkin' of you at the LA bar
where I got so drunk I couldn't drive my car
I was dreamin' about you with my ten-ounce beer
dreamin' sweet day dreams wishin' you were here
I was thinking of you with the braids in your hair
old Houston Texas or anywhere
I was dreamin' about you and my changin' ways
I still think about you in my travelin' days
I was thinkin' of you where the sunset glows
down the Mississippi River where the Gulf wind blows
I was dreamin' about you and the fleur-de-lis
I was wishin' you were next to me....
jealous as all hell B