(*&^&*, composition, Coursera, flarf, I Am The Walrus, John Cage, ModPo, music, songwriting, writer's block, writing
Those of you who are in the Modpo crowd or who have been around since the beginning of this blog last November know that its purpose was to be a laboratory for creativity, particularly with writing and music composition. This blog was an outgrowth of Modpo (Modern and Contemporary American Poetry course at Coursera.org).
I was trying to free myself from a longstanding writer’s block. I was an inexperienced (and not very skilled) but prolific writer and poet a few years ago. I hit a creative peak of sorts in the summer of 2009, when I wrote dozens of poems- some dreck, but some I was quite pleased with. Most of these have not seen the light of day in almost four years.
Suddenly, the flow stopped. On September 18, 2009 I awoke to an irregular heartbeat and felt very weak. By the time I got to the hospital I was in 2:1 AV flutter that devolved into atrial fibrillation (brought on by stress and an aberrant electrical conduction pathway in my heart), and I found myself being wheeled upstairs for an emergency heart cath. They destroyed the aberrant pathway, and the problem was fixed forever.
Only since then, I haven’t been able to write a word of my own. Well, not at all until Modpo, and even then I’ve found it very difficult. I have no idea why this experience would have affected my writing, but the fact remains I lost my voice that day, for whatever reason. Modpo gave me a way in by using aleatoric and noncreative methods such as flarf or John Cage-style indeterminacy, but these writings were not like writing something that came from my heart. That I simply couldn’t do.
One goal for this blog has been to help me find a way to regain that voice.
Now, I find myself in the last weeks of the Songwriting course at Coursera, and I am face to face with this block. The final assignment, due next Wednesday, is to write a song (coming from inside me) using the instructor’s method. No tricks like flarf or Cage. I have to come up with my own lyrics and music, from my own ideas. No Chapter 9. No “I Am The Walrus” nonsense lyrics.
I’ve already posted two demos from this class on this blog, but one came to me several years ago and needed just to be completed; the other was done with throwaway lyrics that I detested that were solely meant to comply with the requirements of the course. I have yet to confront the block directly and write for this class…
Until now. Oh (*&^&*.
Actually, the lectures this week I found extremely helpful, and helped me to find a way in. It provided a method for finding ideas and rhymes, and provided a means for composing melody (I’ve been good with writing chord progressions and bass lines, but composing melody has always been a black box to me). I feel like I have a shot to really do this this time. I am feeling more confident. I am enough of a writer that I bought a good thesaurus and rhyming dictionary today.
I feel like I might be able to break the block once and for all…
But I am still looking at an empty page in Open Office…
“Oh (*&^&*” sounds like a perfectly acceptable beginning to a song 😉
Yeah, I’m going to write that one 🙂