Monday, March 19, 2012

If I can't say the words, then I'll sing them ...

I’m growing to be quite a fan of Grace Franzen, a YouTube user with the handle mendocinodragon, for her trock songs and other things. But recently she posted a pretty little original tune called “Thinking of You,” apparently an ode to the high-school friends she’s losing touch with now that she’s in college. And the title of this blog was one of the lines (at 3:24):

It got me thinking about the ways we express ourselves. I’m a fairly awful singer myself, but as I’m working on revising The Novel, I’m finding lots of little bits of my life woven into it, things I can’t say very well in person. I used to be quite skeptical of English teachers who lectured me on themes and “what the author is really saying”; I tried to imagine authors sitting in their garrets somewhere (all great authors write in garrets—right?), trying to find ways to put their innermost feelings and philosophies into obscure literary form. It just didn’t seem a likely leisure activity for anyone trying to pay the bills with words.

And I was right, at least when it came to my own writing. I don’t sit down and think about ways to express my feelings in elaborate metaphors. It just happens sometimes; little private symbols and fragments of personal conversations ease their way into my work. Most of the time it goes unnoticed, even by me, until much later. (Although here’s a tip: anytime you see a bird, it’s probably important, if only to me.)

Things I think I might be trying to say through The Novel:

-Sometimes the people who matter most are the ones who aren’t there.
-Dogs are important. Even the crazy ones. Especially the crazy ones.
-Books can reshape the world, but only if you read them.
-Sometimes you just have to jump off a cliff.
-Free will is worth dying for.
-Porridge is pretty much always disgusting.
-It is possible to smother someone to death with the best of intentions.
-Libraries are a nearly universal language.
-If you’re going to die, dance first.
-Folk singers are dangerous.
-When something doesn’t fit, pay attention. There’s a world you’re not seeing.
-Sometimes stew is a matter of life and death.
-Two people can make a family. That doesn’t mean they make a functional one.
-Sometimes love means doing the thing you hate most.
-Most people can’t see their own potential.
-Songs matter.

More updates as I find them …

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