Memories and Music #MondayBlogs #CannedHeat #TheKinks

Dear Reader (and Listener), I’m getting sloppy!  In my haste to extricate myself from the insanity of social media, I’ve neglected to provide proper care and feeding of my blog.  You know, posting without setting the appropriate categories and tags.   Such is the distracted mind.  Next I’ll be forgetting to cross my t’s and dot my i’s.

Adding to my distraction is this song that I had not heard in decades until last week when it aired on a local radio station.  Definitely a good song to calm my usual commute anxiety.

Interestingly (or not), a few weeks ago my husband purchased a greatest hits CD of The Kinks.  One of the cuts:  Victoria, the opening of which we thought sounded a lot like Canned Heat‘s On the Road Again.  Have a listen, and let me know if our aging brains were just conflating old musical memories.

As always, thank you for reading and listening.  I’m still feeling a bit adrift with my writing, hence all the music.  Recently, I had an odd experience with a short story I wrote about 23 years ago.  It’s one that I’m particularly fond of which I suppose is dangerous.  The experience was this:  I found a scanned copy of the story, printed it out and read with an eye to revising and submitting it to some journal.  With that almost pristine read (it having been 20-some years since I last read it), I found myself moved almost to tears by my own writing.  A few weeks go by and I finally get around to typing up the story so I can revise and polish it.  As I typed, my stomach flipped and my heart sunk further with every paragraph.  “What a piece of sh_t” was the steady refrain in my brain.

Now I know we writers can be our own worst critics.  If I had listened to my inner critic, I would not have this blog, I would not be making any claim to being a writer.  But how disappointing to go from feeling really good about a story written so long ago all the way to feeling disgusted by it.  I wonder if it’s more the intention to publish that makes me so critical.  Meaning, if I had only wanted to keep the story for my own personal reading pleasure, a memento of my floundering graduate student days, then I would continue to love it.

This has nothing to do with Canned Heat or The Kinks, but if you’ve read this far, please share your take on this experience.  Have you gone through the same flip-flop with your own writing?  What did you do, if anything?  I won’t give up on this particular story.  But I’d like to be able to stomach the revision process.

28 thoughts on “Memories and Music #MondayBlogs #CannedHeat #TheKinks

  1. Oh yes! Hence so many drafts before I let anything see the light of day even with my most trusted readers! Look at it this way, you’re in a position where you know it isn’t good. Back then you hadn’t developed into the writer you are now and thought it was good. Progress!
    Re. procrastination, you’ve got music, I’ve got jam making! So you could say we both got jam sessions 😉

  2. I totally go back and forth with my writing–hating it one day, loving it the next. i quit writing for three solid years when I received a rejection from an editor. Three. Years. I hurt myself more.

    And I hear you about the blog. I didn’t have internet access for almost two weeks, so I’ve been adrift.

    • I’ve stopped writing for long periods of time, too, and, you’re right. We’re only hurting ourselves more in the end. I’m glad you’re back to writing 🙂

  3. Every day I crank out a good chunk of material, I look back the next day and it certainly brings me to tears, but not for the good reasons. 🙂 As other commenters and writers have mentioned, I believe it’s just a part of the process that we have to work through. Probably the more we do it, the more we come to expect it, and the more we can look past it and see that we’re not so bad after all.

    At least that’s what I tell myself so I can keep writing. By the time you see this comment, I hope you were able to see the awesomeness that you originally saw in your story Marie.

    • Thanks, Phillip, I haven’t looked at my story again (although I carry it with me to work), but I definitely feel encouraged to do so and with a kinder eye. I’m hoping I can keep the structure and improve what seems like fairly pedestrian language. But I was typing it when my inner critic took over and that’s really not fair. I need to sit and just read through again. Fingers crossed 🙂

      • It’s tough, but I find that I can get back in the game when I pretend that none of it matters. It’s all in the name of practice for when I eventually write a “real story.” Until then, it’s not work, it’s play!

  4. Firstly, I loved the mention of Canned Heat and it got me thinking about them and then Janis Joplin, The Doors and how so many of them seemed to die before they were 30 and their wild “live in the moment and without fear” culture which seems so beguiling and destructive at the same time. Such a different world then, and such a different view of what the future might be than in our darker and more forbidding times. As for the writing, I only have a few fragments of poems from when I was younger and only really started cranking it out when I began my Blog four years ago. Even then, some of my earliest blog posts make me wince, and very possibly my newest ones will in another four years.

    • Gosh, a girlfriend and I used to sing along with Janis Joplin records. Well, you probably wouldn’t call it singing, but it was a good way to burn off some teenaged angst 😉 Regarding writing: I do mostly wince at my earlier attempts at poetry and fiction. I try to attribute the wincing to “growth” 🙂

  5. I’ve been going through some of my writing files as well. At times, I’m all like, “Look, I can write. That’s good stuff.” Then other times, I’m all like, “What rubbish. That sucks. I suck. Everything sucks.” It’s just the writer’s condition for better or worse.

    • Indeed, we are our own worst critics. And I then I pick up someone else’s short story or read a few pages from a contemporary novel and think, “Hey, wait a minute. My writing is as good … ” and so the cycle goes …

  6. I think we evolve as writers, and so when we then go back and look at old work it doesn’t always match up to our previous expectations. I try and look on it as a positive that we can see how to improve older work. I like your interchange with music here too. Other creative pursuits are really important I think.

    • Yes, I hope I’ve learned enough in the past 20 years to bring the story up to the expectations I have now 🙂 I do enjoy adding music to my posts, especially these old songs that remind me of the long drives I used to take when I was a teenager and just wanted to be alone.

  7. I’ve often flipflopped on my own writing, sometimes within the span of a few hours! Goes to show we really can’t be objective about our own work. That’s where early and late readers come in. Without them, I’m not sure I’d dare put anything out there. Even my blog posts leave me in a flipflop state (though I don’t have early readers for them; there are limits, after all…)

    • I hear you, Carrie. I spend a fair amount of time on my posts as it is, previewing, rereading. That’s one reason why I’m only posting once a week now 🙂

  8. Oh yeah, been there done that for sure. But I have found over the years that once in a while an old ms has some good ore in it and I can mine it out and use it to make something shiny and new. Sometimes it’s as simple as revising the story, but more often it’s using something in the story and applying it to a new project. Maybe a character, a scene, a phrase, who knows?

    That’s why I don’t totally chuck my old stuff!

    (As for the songs, “Victoria” reminds me a little more of Canned Heat’s “Goin’ Up The Country” in its rhythm…)

  9. I feel the same way, everything I write is crap. And when I let someone else read something I’ve written and their response is positive? I think “What do they know? They obviously don’t know what good writing is.” Oh, yes, we can torture ourselves, can’t we. I say go for it. Submit it! And good luck!!

    • I do the same thing! I want positive feedback but when I get it, I quickly turn cynical 😉 Not to worry. I just need to spend some time revising. It’s a story I want to tell.

  10. As you may know I have 110,000 word printed manuscript holding the laundry room door open. It is a piece of crap. Don’t worry we all have the same feelings.

  11. I empathize with you. Perhaps what first moved you when you reread your story (after 20 years – now that’s putting the story aside) was that it stirred you emotionally. That’s what we writers want our stories to do.
    In reading it the second time you may have been focused more on the writing and that’s where you weren’t satisfied with it.
    Maybe going over it with all the skills you’ve learned since you last wrote the story will help. It may be helpful to remember that you are now in writer mode and not reader mode.
    Good luck with your revisions and sending the story off! 🙂

    • Carol, thank you so much! I think you’re absolutely right: first I was a reader; then as I retyped the story, I was a critic. I definitely won’t give up on the story. But the critic in me knows it needs a lot of work 🙂

Comments are closed.