Here is what writing feels like today

“And after many days of nearly total non-productivity, she continued to sit in front of her computer and wept, for no words would come to her. However, she had made some killer playlists.”

Fortunately, that almost never happens to me. The weeping at the computer part. I am rarely at a loss for words. It’s a gift and brutally hard work, too. It’s not like I own stories or words or tales to tell whenever I feel like it. I have to sit down and work at it–think, plan, let the world come to me, be open, be scared, plan over, think some more. And sometimes the words come easily, and sometimes I have to drag them in a choke hold from deep within some hellish depth of my soul, fighting, scratching, biting, spitting, until I put them, and then hold them, on the screen.

To be honest, I do have some great playlists. I occasionally create one to procrastinate. But mostly, my playlist making is purposeful. One for leisurely writing. One of just women musical artists from the last sixty years. One of all jazz. One of just Bach. One for almost every season since 2005–spring, summer, fall, winter. One of ear-splitting, head-banging metal–for writing, too, when I really seriously deeply need to concentrate.

I have found that I like hard rock for some writing. Right now for instance. I’m tired. My mouse hand is sore. I’m hungry. I’m a little cranky. I had a long day of frustrations (system error, system error, system error). So in order to write and find some “inspiration,” I turn to a more strident form of music. I like a wide variety of metal: Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Metallica (despite their very public airing of angst and violent opposition to open), Judas Priest, Pantera, Korn, Anthrax, Megadeth, Aerosmith, Uriah Heep, Iron Butterfly, The Who, Twisted Sister, Alice in Chains, and a few others I won’t mention at the moment–time constraints and all (I am hungry). (I know–how could I forget Mötley Crüe? I didn’t really, but I had to stop somewhere.) I can’t name all their albums, or key moments in metal history, but I collect what I will and make playlists with what I like. And that makes me a happy writer.

The era of owning a whole album for me is over. I can now cherry-pick what I want to listen to or own (thank you, iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify for all you have done to make me so musically glad). It’s such a heady feeling–listening to whatever I want to instead of being forced to listen only to what was chosen by DJs or VJs or available through physical acquisition. It’s a head-banging heady feeling. (I must admit that no head banging actually goes on anymore in my personal life. I have a bad neck–exacerbated, no doubt, by years of head banging when I had hair that was two and a half feet long.)

Sometimes when I’m listening to metal and writing along in a frantic thrilling manner, I do feel like a rock star. Sometimes I feel like a roadie. And sometimes I feel like roadkill. I can never predict. I used to try, but I gave up. Writing is what it is. It’s always hard work, but sometimes it’s glorious hard work, and every stone just falls into place, smoothly, perfectly, and I build a lovely sentence or two that sustains me through the roadkill times.

Right this minute, writing feels like this:

James Hetfield of Metallica playing The Garden in Boston, January 2009. Photo by Justine Hunt, Boston Globe Staff.

Like rock and roll. Like screaming. Therapeutic screaming heavy metal. Breathless. Like I’m just about to make an amazing connection with someone important. I wonder who that someone might be. Is is you?

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Filed under Writing and Heavy Metal, Writing hurts so good, Writing is Beautiful

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