Johanna wrote a song (she’s a fictional character, and this song is part of something I’ve recently christened The Reckless Gamble Project).
It’s called “Easy to Be Good,” and it’s here, along with Andrew’s post, if you’d like to give it a listen.
It’s her first song, and it’s about longing for a man she knows is no good. “I’m tired of good/I’m sick of nice/I’m ready for/a taste of vice.” That’s the gist. She’s only fifteen (almost sixteen). She knows what she’s doing and she doesn’t. There’s something a little desperate about it.
Two days ago I found out that I received an award from the Sustainable Arts Foundation. I was overwhelmed by this news. The last time I checked my email in the middle of a writing day, which I am not supposed to do, I received my second rejection of the day for a short story I have out. I can handle one a day, but two felt like a lot. That was last week. Also, I applied for this grant six months ago with no luck. This time I applied with the first chapter of my novel-in-progress, and they dug it. They even sent me nice comments from the jurors encouraging me to keep going. I am still reeling a bit from the MCC Fellowship, which I found out about in May (they funded me based on nearly the same work sample I sent to the Sustainable Arts Foundation last time around, so it really does depend on who’s reading).
Andrew and I have a new song. It’s called “New Girl.” I came up with what turned out to be the bridge a couple of months ago, from an idea in the novel I’m working on. The bridge is: “Baby, leave me here with my last cigarette. You don’t want to be the only vice I’ve got left.” I liked the idea of a person or a relationship being a vice, and I like the idea of a sober addict transferring his addictive tendencies to a person, and how it might feel to be that person. This song became a warning from one of the characters in my novel to another. She ignores it, of course.
I’m not sure why I didn’t realize sooner that I should write a novel about musicians, because now my research is watching rockumentaries and reading back issues of Rolling Stone. My fingers are crossed that I’ll get Life, Keith Richards’s memoir, for Christmas, and I’m eagerly anticipating Girl in a Band, Kim Gordon’s memoir, which is due out in February. I could not love that title any more. I can now admit that Sonic Youth was a bit noisy for me even when I was seventeen, but I still think Kim Gordon is devastatingly cool.
You know who I never, ever thought was cool? Axl Rose. By the time I was really into music, Nirvana had arrived and Guns n’ Roses seemed excessive and shallow. But I can’t get this 1992 Axl Rose interview from Rolling Stone out of my head.
Seventeen years after Andrew first walked into my dorm room bearing a few CDs he thought I might love, we wrote and recorded a song together.
It’s here. I would love it if you listened to it. He built a thing himself so it could play music nicely, so it’s just easier if you do it there, though I know all of this back and forth is a lot to ask.
Okay. You’re back. I hope you liked it. The process for writing this song was incredibly roundabout. We both love music and I sing (mostly around the house these days) and he plays like every instrument and is also really into digital music recording. So this seems like something we should have already done, but it’s been a struggle.
I’m just going to blurt it out: I’m working on a new novel. I have 58 pages. It’s so, so new. A lot of mystique surrounds this process. And a lot of superstition. Some authors (published ones, with books!) won’t tell anyone what their work-in-progress is about. They don’t let anyone see any of it until it’s done. They fear breaking the spell, or jinxing, it seems, rather than having to face the task of explaining what one’s novel is about. Having to explain what one’s novel is about is almost embarrassing enough to make one stop writing the novel.
Here. I will show you by trying to describe my novel right now. It’s about musicians. See, this girl’s dad is a producer who owns a studio in Vermont. It’s in a renovated barn on many, many acres of beautiful land, and a river runs through it. Like Trey from Phish. Only he is NOT LIKE TREY FROM PHISH AT ALL. I don’t know why I even brought up Trey. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. I was never into Phish. That was my husband. I mean, I never even went to one single Phish show, and I was in college in their heyday, so that was a very deliberate choice. Nothing against Trey. It just wasn’t my thing. I just happened to be googling for photos of barn studios in Vermont so I could accurately describe one, and there was Trey’s. It’s really gorgeous. Anyway, he sold it. Trey no longer has a barn studio, so let’s stop talking about it.