Tag Archives: anne

A jar of angry mice

Do you ever find yourself battling voices in your head?

Especially when you’re trying to write?

It can be very distracting, when all of your different mental personalities are reading over your shoulder as you type, giving their two cents.

laptop-peeking-500

I don’t know about you, but I receive opinions on everything I’m doing whether it’s taking a shower or running a stop sign on my bicycle.

There’s always imaginary, alternate-ending stories that play out for every occasion of my life.

Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird, shared this great exercise for helping to quiet all of those voices.

So, here’s what you do:

“Close your eyes and get quiet for a minute, until the chatter starts up.mouse

Then isolate one of the voices and imagine the person speaking as a mouse.

Pick it up by the tail and drop it into a mason jar.

Then isolate another voice, pick it up by the trail, drop it in he jar.

And so on.

Drop in any high-maintenance parental units, drop in any contractors, lawyers, colleagues, children, anyone who is whining in your head.

Then put the lid on, and watch all these mouse people clawing at the glass, jabbering away, trying to make you feel like shit because you won’t do what they want–won’t give them more money, won’t be more successful, won’t see them more often.

Then imagine that there is a volume-control button on the bottle.

Turn it all the way up for a minute, and listen to the stream of angry, neglected, guilt-mongering voices.

Then turn it all the way down and watch the frantic mice lunge at the glass, trying to get to your.

Leave it down, and get back to your [writing].

A writer friend of mine suggests opening the jar and shooting them all in the head.

But I think he’s a little angry, and I’m sure nothing like this would ever occur to you.”

I hope that helps, or that at very least, you cracked up a little reading about it. 😉

Have a great day!

By the Pale Moonlight–another look at characters

Hey, so last week I shared some thoughts about character perspectives in books vs. movies, and a funny story from Anne Lamott’s book, ‘Bird by Bird’.

A song I wrote recently (‘By the Pale Moonlight’) has an interesting character perspective switch half-way through that I wanted to share with you. I based the song on the well-known French song “Au Claire de la Lune”.

“Au Clair de la Lune” is a common French folk song that dates back to at least the mid-18th Century. In 2008, the earliest known recording of the human voice was digitized, and the unknown singer on the recording is singing a small snippet of “Au Clair de la Lune”.

In this song, the story begins from the perspective of a lonely poet/author, who is knocking on his friend’s door so he can borrow a pen and light his candle in the middle of the night.

Back in those days, if you wanted to stay up all night with creative ideas or wake up at 3 in the morning and write something down, you’d better hope you have ink for your pen and some coals left in the fireplace to light your candle with!

A couple verses in, the perspective changes.

Is it from his friend’s perspective as he watches from his window, or just an omnipotent perspective?

Here’s how my english version of the song goes:

At your door I’m knocking

By the pale moonlight

Lend a pen I beg you

I’ve a word to writecandle

Dark now is my candle

My fire burns no more

For the love of heaven

Open up your door

 

My friend cries in answer

By the pale moonlight

“In my bed I’m lying

Late and chill’s the night

Yonder at the neighbor’s

Someone is astir

Fire’s freshly kindled

Oh get a light from her.”

 

To the neighbor’s house then

By the pale moonlight

Goes our lonely author

To beg a pen to write

“Who knocks there so softly?”

Calls a voice above

“Open wide your door now

It is the God of Love.”

 

Seek they pen and candle

By the pale moonlight

They can see so little

Dark is now the night

What they find in seeking

That is not revealed

All behind her door 

Is carefully concealed

 

And in my version of this song, I finish up by singing the first line in French (what they are saying in French is a bit different from the English version):

Au clair de la lune
Mon ami Pierrot
Prete-moi ta plume
Pour Ă©crire un mot

Ma chandelle est morte
Je n’ai plus de feu
Ouvre-moi ta porte
Pour l’amour de Dieu

matthias_stom_young_man_reading_by_candlelight1

If you want to hear me play the full song, just click here! (the song starts at around 4:40 in the video)

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. 🙂

Please comment below to share your thoughts about writing, characters, or song-writing (or anything else this topic made you think of!)…