I’ve been thinking about writing one of those writing memoirs over the last few years. Specifically, I already know the title: Everything I Learned About Writing I Learned from Rock History.
I mean, think about it:
The Beatles, “Love Me Do”:
Their first single, and their first professionally recorded song, back in the summer of 1962. It’s an incredibly simplistic song: barebones production, moon-June lyrics, and Paul’s vocal fill at the end of the verse is so full of nerves that you’d be surprised how often he fearlessly belted out songs at the Cavern on any given day.
What do I learn from this song as a writer?
–Your first work is more than likely going to be crap, because you’re too nervous about trying to get it right the first time that you fail to get it right the first time.
–On the other hand, if you have something unique and catchy enough, fans will look past that and give you another chance. Single #2, “Please Please Me”, was released in January of 1963, and you can definitely see the improvement in not just the sound but the songwriting. That track would end up being their first #1 hit.
–End result: It’s okay to kinda make a fool of yourself first time out. As long as you’re going in the right direction and you’re confident from the get-go, that’s all that matters.
Another example: Woodstock.
The great thing about Woodstock is that it was the ultimate “let’s put on a show in the barn” and it was blessed with an amazing amount of luck and good karma that it ended up being a success (as an event, at any rate — financially I believe there were numerous hiccups) and a defining cultural event.
As a writer? I learned the following:
–Sometimes the weirdest, craziest ideas might end up being the best and most successful ones.
–Go for it. No, seriously: go for it. What are you gonna lose?
–Caveat: At least have a general idea of what you want and how to get it. Don’t make hasty and questionable decisions that could possibly bite you on the ass later on (yes, I’m thinking of Altamont here). But trust your instincts if they’re screaming out that this is the right thing to do. Or the absolute worst thing to do.
Or perhaps something more up to date: One of my favorite indie bands of the moment, Dirty Dishes:
What, pray tell, did I learn here?
–Going indie is totally a viable career choice nowadays. I heard about this group via NoiseTrade, and quickly downloaded their entire available discography to date from Bandcamp. I’m on their mailing list, so I went out and downloaded this new track the day I got the note that it had been released. They’ve become one of those bands where I’ll download their new works when they drop, even if I haven’t heard it yet. [Just a few weeks ago, someone wrote something along the same lines as their review of one of my books — and let me tell you, that just about made my damn year!]
–The great thing about indie releases is that you can upload it to all sorts of sites if you wish. I’ve seen bands on Bandcamp, eMusic, Amazon, and elsewhere. You can do that with books too: My ebooks are through Smashwords, but they’re also available through Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Nook, and elsewhere. I’ve even put them up on NoiseTrade Books, and I’ve gotten a good handful of downloads from there as well. Point being: be creative about getting your stuff out there, and keep an open mind. You never know which avenue is going to bring in new fans!
–If you’ve got a unique voice and you know how to use it, perhaps releasing your work in a way you feel fits best may no longer be via the high-end pros. I most likely will try selling future stories to agents and publishers, but in the long run, I realized that going indie was the best avenue for my trilogy after all.
The point is, it seems my decades-long obsession with music and its history has influenced my writing in more ways than what I write. I’ve learned a lot from the music business as well, and I can see so many parallels with the writing business that it’s given me a clearer path to future endeavors.
So yeah…maybe writing a book about that might not be a bad idea…?