Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Gardener

There was room in the house I rented for a decent sized organic garden. After I'd return home from trout fishing (see previous post) I'd prepare the fish for baking. I was just beginning to enjoy cooking, and my repertoire was small. When prepping the trout I'd butter the inside, then season it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I'd then scatter almond slivers inside the cavity, wrap it in foil and bake for a half hour at 350 degrees.

After getting the trout into the oven I'd put a pot of water on the stove. Once it began to boil, I'd go out to the garden and grab an ear of corn, shucking it on the way, until there was a trail of husks leading to the back door. I'd drop the ear of corn into the boiling water and wait somewhat impatiently until dinner was ready.

I've mentioned that I go a little nuts when I find something I like to do. I was subscribing to a few gardening magazines at the time, and one of the articles I read mentioned that corn kernels were full of natural sugar when on the stalk. Once picked the sugar began converting into starch, which meant the fresher the corn, the sweeter the taste. The author of that article was not wrong. That was the sweetest corn I've ever had.

If I started everything correctly, the trout and corn were ready at the same time. Light, flaky trout accompanied by garden fresh corn on the cob is simple, tasty, and one of the best meals I've ever had.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Gone Fishin'

I'll be moving in less than a month, and before that happens I'm going to try to go fishing with my friend Neil. We're talking about a deep sea charter out of Port Aransas, but may just settle on catching a few speckled trout in Galveston.

I haven't fished in years. I'm the type of person that goes a little nuts when I find something I like to do. The last time I fished on a regular basis was when I was living in the desert town of El Centro, California. El Centro is a farming community in the Imperial Valley, and although it is in fact in the middle of the desert, the valley is green because the farmers there are able to irrigate their crops by diverting water from the Colorado river. The irrigation canals were full of large mouth bass, and I fished the canals six days a week with my buddy Curtis. The one day each week that wasn't devoted to bass fishing found us about a hundred miles away on Mount Julian, fishing for rainbow trout on Lake Cuyamaca.

We went every Wednesday for about a year. We'd leave El Centro at five in the morning, and arrive at the marina on Lake Cuyamaca a few minutes before the ranger station opened at seven. On spring mornings there was usually a thick fog over the cool water; in the winter the park surrounding the lake was covered by a blanket of snow. Personal watercraft weren't allowed on the lake, so for twenty dollars we'd rent a small john boat with an ancient 5hp Evinrude from the rangers and head out.

They stocked the lake with rainbow trout on Tuesdays, by the time Curtis and I arrived the next day the trout were acclimated to their new surroundings and ready to eat. We'd catch our limit of five each by noon, turn the boat in, clean the fish (rainbow trout are ridiculously easy to clean), and settle in for a nice lunch at the marina restaurant. By one o'clock we were back on the road, headed to El Centro.

We were good fishing partners, both of us quiet anglers with little or no need for conversation once we were out on the water. Curtis was Chippewa, and had the reverent sensibility most Native Americans share when it comes to the outdoors. With peaceful surroundings and a silent nature, it's easy to get lost in your own thoughts; almost like being in a trance. One morning when we were out on the lake Curtis whispered my name (later he told me that he'd said my name five times before it registered); because of the whisper I had the presence of mind to move slowly. I looked at Curtis, and with the slightest nod of his head, he motioned toward the shore. I turned my head until I could follow his line of sight, and saw a mountain lion at the waters' edge, taking a cool drink. We stared at it for perhaps ten or twelve seconds, until the second sense possessed by most living things kicked in. It felt us looking at it, and briefly returned our gaze before turning on its haunches and bounding up to the top of the hill, disappearing over the rise, covering a distance of about thirty yards in just a few leaps and bounds.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Now Where did I Put That?

I've misplaced my discipline. I haven't got a clue where it might be, but distinctly remember having it in high school. In addition to my studies (if you can call them that) I was working two jobs and working out like a mad man.

Monday through Friday I'd get up at six and walk to my first job, getting to the grocery store by seven so I could buff the floors and help prepare for the eight am opening. I'd work until noon bagging groceries, then walk to school for my afternoon classes. School let out around three thirty, and from there I'd walk to the fast food joint and flip burgers from four in the afternoon until ten at night. I'd usually be able to catch a ride home from there, where I'd change clothes and go for a four mile run. During the day I did hundreds of push ups and sit ups whenever I had a few minutes to spare at one of my jobs. Weekends were a blast, as I only had to work for eight hours or so each day, and had the rest of the time to myself.

About half way through the school year I bought a used truck from one of my friends. This gave me loads of free time, so I filled some of it by lifting weights three times a week. By the time graduation rolled around, I was doing 250 sit ups every day, and many, many push ups. I'd do a quick hundred push ups when I rolled out of bed in the morning, and then do 75 clapping push ups in the afternoon, before I clocked in at my second job. At night, after I finished my four mile run, I'd do 50 one-handed push ups, each hand, before jumping in the shower and getting ready for bed at around midnight. I would also on occasion challenge one of my friends to a push up contest. I should have looked like a young Adonis, but in fact still had love handles and a layer of baby fat. Today I can barely do ten regular push ups.

I graduated and took a low paying job working about eighty hours a week. I stopped exercising completely for six months, then the truck broke down and I replaced it with a ten speed bicycle. It was exactly nineteen miles from the apartment I rented to where I worked, and I was back in shape in no time. Another six months went by, I reached burnout, quit my job and stayed in my apartment for a month, learning to play the guitar.

For the next seven years I played the guitar for a minimum of three hours a day, no excuses. For instance: A few times I went straight from work to hang out with some friends. We'd stay out late, and I'd get home at around three am. I had to be up at six in order to make it in to work on time, but since I had not yet practiced the guitar, I'd pull it out of the case and play until it was time to get ready for work. Now, unless I have a gig, I can go an entire week and not even pick up the guitar.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cherokee People

Indian Reservation
(C) John D. Loudermilk

They took the whole Cherokee nation,
Put us on this reservation,
Took away our ways of life,
The tomahawk and the bow and knife,
Took away our native tongue,
And taught their English to our young,
And all the beads we made by hand,
Are nowadays made in Japan,

Cherokee people, Cherokee tribe,
So proud to live, so proud to die,

They took the whole Indian nation,
Locked us on this reservation,
Though I wear a shirt and tie,
I'm still part redman deep inside,

Cherokee people, Cherokee tribe,
So proud to live, so proud to die,

But maybe someday when they learn,
Cherokee nation will return, will return, will return, will return, will return.

Like many East Texas boys, I've got a little Cherokee blood in me. Not enough, perhaps, to lay claim to being a "Native American", but enough to be very proud of that part of my heritage. I've always identified with the native people, and as a small child never wanted to play the part of the cowboy during our neighborhood make believe shoot-em-ups.

I had just turned eleven when Paul Revere and the Raiders made "Indian Reservation" a hit song. It resonated deep inside me, like many good songs do, but had the added element of connecting with me in a way no other song had connected before. It spoke to an ancient part of me, and at once I was proud and a little sad.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I Are A Professional

Our realtor is very, very good at her job. The house was on the market for less than two days before it sold. While the contract was pending, she went ahead with a planned "Open House" for the other real estate agents in the area, just in case the contract fell through.

What an eye opener. The real estate agents that attended our open house demonstrated why our particular agent is tops in her field:

No competition.

They left the garage door open (our garage is currently filled with antiques), the back gate open, all of the closet and several of the cabinet doors open, basically just trashed the house while we were away for a few days. Most of the comment cards read as if they were filled out by slow witted third graders (a real example: "Too much small").

What happened to us? It used to be that most people took pride in their work and tried to do a good job. Now, all you have to be is adequate (not talking about our realtor, she was great) and you stand head and shoulders above most of your competition. Everyone else seems to be out for the fast, easy buck.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Doin' The Dishes

My squadron was having a party out in the desert hot springs near the Navy base we were stationed at in southern California. We had several campfires going, and I walked over to a smaller fire and joined two of my married buddies. I arrived in mid-conversation.

"I do the dishes about once a week," said Irv. Dave mentioned that he too, did the dishes about once a week, sometimes twice. Having moved into an apartment a few months before, I felt compelled to join the discussion.

"I do the dishes everyday."

Dave and Irv were amazed, and asked me to repeat myself, in case they misheard.

"Yeah, I do the dishes everyday."

There was real admiration on their faces until I mentioned that I did most of the cooking, too. Sort of like when you were a kid and you realized that Superman didn't exist after all. Then it hit me. We were having two different conversations.

"Oh. Ya'll meant Doin' The Dishes. Hell, I haven't even had a girlfriend for at least a year."

The three of us stared quietly into the fire, two married guys and an bachelor, each of us probably thinking what an idiot I was.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dry Days

The little town we're moving to hasn't had any significant rainfall in six months. The creeks and rivers are drying up, but the Ashe Junipers (they're known as Mountain Cedars around here) are doing fine.

Many people have the mistaken belief that the Ashe Juniper is a foreign species, brought here between eighty and fifty years ago, depending on who you talk to. The truth is, they're a native species, mostly confined to box canyons until about a hundred years ago when European settlers first started trying to tame the Hill Country. Before this part of the world became populated year round, Mother Nature would unleash an occasional fire to keep them in check. When the towns and farms started popping up, we kept the fires in check, and the Ashe Junipers took over.

It's a touchy issue. One endangered species depends on the bark of the Ashe Juniper for survival, several others are being edged out of existence because of the Juniper's thirst. The trees are ideally suited to drought conditions, going dormant during dry spells and greedily sucking up every drop of precious water they can get during the wet season. They proliferate until the rest of the native plant life is squeezed out. The iconic Live Oak tree often falls victim to the dense population of Juniper.

Yesterday I heard about the owner of a chain of fast food restaurants. He told his realtor he wanted the worst thousand acres in the Texas Hill Country. The realtor delivered, and soon the fast food king was the proud owner of a Juniper forest. He immediately began clearing his acreage, and now has six natural springs on his property, the precious life-giving liquid bubbling up from the once parched earth.

We've got a few Junipers on our property, down by the creek. The previous owner cleared most of them already, leaving only the ones that were hardest to reach. We'll do a little more research before removing them.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Subterranean Homesick Bob

In the mid-eighties, when I was living in Austin, TX, Bob Dylan was on tour with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. They played at the Frank Irwin Center, and I was new to Austin and still without an adequate grasp of just how laid back the city is. I arrived two hours early for the concert, convinced that showing up later would doom me to having to park miles away from the venue.

I was the first one there, of course, and killed time by wandering around the perimeter of the building, wondering if I'd ever be famous enough to get a gig at a place that size. I rounded a corner and saw the opening for the underground bus barn. As I considered (and then rejected) the idea of walking into the building, a Buffalo Springfield bus pulled up beside me, the air brakes hissing as it came to a stop. I glanced around, but did not see anyone else nearby. When I turned my attention back to the bus the doors opened, and the first person off was Bob Dylan.

About twenty people materialized out of thin air, asking Bob for his autograph, some pestering him with questions, others professing their undying love and devotion. The best way to describe what happened next is to say that Bob just shrank, crawling into himself like a nervous turtle. He remained silent as he signed the scraps of paper thrust towards him, nodding his head to the noise of his fans, or maybe just keeping time to a song that only he could hear. I was not one of the autograph seekers. I merely observed, believing with the conviction of a babe in the woods that someday I would meet Bob on equal footing.

"Will," he'd say. "I really like your songs."

Later that night when Bob took the stage, he was a much more animated version of his previous self.

"Hey, how's everybody doin', (mumble, unintelligible) alright!"

Bob was excited, and plowed into his catalog with the fervor and energy of a child evangelist on a caffeine jag. He is notorious for changing the arrangements of his songs, and at one point in the evening, three quarters of the way through a tune that no one in the audience had so far recognized, it hit us; he was playing "Blowin' In The Wind."

You haven't lived until you've seen over twenty thousand people simultaneously fumbling for their lighters, anxious to add their personal ray of light to a song that changed their lives, and perhaps, the world.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Starting Over

We're in Wimberley for the next few days, meeting with builders, and it struck me that once the new place is built this will probably be the last time I start over. I've lived in so many different places, and finally found a spot that feels like home.

Minimalist by nature, out of the seventeen times that I've changed cities, I've given away most of my household goods on at least a dozen occasions. Most of the time I'd leave with nothing but my guitar, a few clothes shoved into a suitcase, and a couple of boxes of books, music (Lp's, tapes, Cd's), and song lyrics, and a handful of keepsakes. My wife, on the other hand, has saved damn near everything she's ever laid her sentimental hands on, from the time she was about six years old. I can already feel the first twinge of lower back pain.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

Three very cool things are just around the corner. At the moment I'm in a holding pattern, biding my time until the fun starts. My wife and I own property outside of Austin in the Texas Hill Country, and will be moving there soon to build our dream home. About that same time I will begin recording a new CD, and at the end of the year we're taking a family vacation in Vienna and Paris. It's like I'm a kid again, and Christmas is still so far away.

Christmas was sometimes a pretty tough holiday when I was a kid. My stepfather worked as a union electrician, and went on strike every two or three years. Santa never skipped our home, but I did notice that some years he was considerably less generous than others. Occasionally the season was pretty good.
One year, when I was about ten, my mom woke me up in the middle of the night.

"Wanna know what you got for Christmas?!"

I had already figured out the deal with Santa, and excitedly agreed to this rare privilege. Mom grew up poor, and on her best Christmas probably received less than her children did on our worst. This year Christmas was especially good, and Mom was so happy she just had to tell someone. We snuck out of the room I shared with two of my brothers, and Mom showed me some of the toys I was getting. I couldn't believe my luck. It was the best Christmas yet, gift-wise. Mom let me play quietly with one of the toys for a few minutes, then it was back to bed so that she could re wrap my presents and hide them until Christmas morning.

Mom was a kid when she had me. Married at eighteen and a new mother at nineteen, looking back I marvel at what a kid she was for most of my childhood. She was and is a great mom, but when I become impatient, and start focusing on the destination rather than the journey, I remember that I come by it honestly.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Red Headed Stranger

When I was in the Navy, stationed in El Centro, CA, a bunch of us went to the Imperial County Fair one night to hear Willie Nelson perform. Much has been written about his broad appeal, and our squadron alone was evidence of that. Among us were hard-core metal heads, rockers, jazz aficionados, country fans, you name it. All of us loved Willie Nelson. Maybe the reason so many different types of music lovers love Willie is because he speaks to the inner misfit in all of us. We've all felt different at some point in our lives.

My friend Stosh was with us that night. His real name was Chris. A year earlier, when I transferred in to the squadron and was getting to know everyone, someone told me that "Stosh" was Polish for "a good man". I still don't know if that's true, but it certainly fit Chris. He was one of the best guys that anyone could hope to meet.

People were throwing their hats on stage. Willie would pick one up, wear it for a few minutes, and then toss it back out into the crowd. I was wearing the only cowboy hat I owned, a beat-up straw Stetson that was bent, ragged, and sported a bullet hole in the crown from my first time shooting a pistol. I was twenty and thought it would be cool to have a hat with a bullet hole in it. Stosh turned to me and said he was going to propose to his girlfriend. I congratulated him, but didn't really know what to do or say beyond that, so in an attempt to let Stosh know I shared in his happiness, I announced that I would toss my hat on the stage as a celebration of this new milestone in his life.

It flew onto the stage like a Frisbee, almost as beat-up as Willie's guitar, Trigger. He placed it on his head and left it there for a couple of songs, before taking it off and whipping it back into the crowd.

"We have to get it back! That's your hat, man."

What have I done, I wondered. Stosh was right. We saw the area the hat landed in and worked our way through the crowd. We found the couple that got my hat. They were in their early fifties, life long Willie Nelson fans, and weren't about to give it up.

"I'll take real good care of it, son." He was a big man, and looked me in the eye with sincerity.

There was nothing else to do. Stosh and I walked back to where the rest of our group was waiting for us. It's been over twenty years, and I've never owned another cowboy hat.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Momma Taught Me Not To Brag...

But that was before she knew I was going to be a musician. In order to get hired, most musicians have promo packs, which include not only a sample of how you sound, but biographical information, press clippings, etc. Pretty much all musician bios have the same format. You hype yourself, drop a few names, and include a few favorable quotes from newspapers, magazines, and other artists. Almost all bios sound the same after a while. Some of the singer/songwriter cliches are "Heartfelt lyrics" and "Soaring vocals." It's hard to stand out from the crowd, and I always suspected that most bookers were sick of getting promo packs.

This is the part of the business that really turns my stomach. I'm shy by nature, and sometimes find myself being overly modest as a way of compensating for the self promotion required to stay gainfully employed. The last thing I'd like to be known for is conceit. A few years ago I found a workable solution. This is a verbatim sample of the bio I sent out to several venues:

Blah blah blah. Hype! Blah blah blah blah blah. Hype! Hype hype hype! Major name dropping. Hype!

Then I added a few made up quotes. This one was my favorite:

This guy is gonna be huge!
Weight Watchers Magazine

My instincts were right, and a wonderful thing happened. Nearly every venue that received a bio hired me. I'd call a week after getting it mailed out, and once I got the booker on the phone the first part of the conversation would go like this:

"Hi, this is Willie Atkinson, I..."

"Man, I love your bio! When can you play?"

I only sent the bio to ten venues, and nine of them hired me. It may be time to start using it again.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Adapt or Die

I've always liked old. Old houses, old cars, old people, and the old way of doing things. I'm not a complete Luddite when it comes to technology. I love my DVR, for instance.

I do miss analog recording studios. I share the belief that analog sounds warmer, for want of a better term. There will always be arguments for and against the analog and digital recording formats, but digital is winning by attrition. The analog studios are disappearing almost as fast as the rate new digital equipment enters the marketplace. I've been putting off recording a new CD because I really wanted to use an analog studio, but the few places in town where I felt comfortable are now closed forever.

To that end I've decided to embrace technology and purchase a digital recorder and a studio quality microphone. While I rarely get nervous on stage, put me in a studio and I tend to choke, sometimes literally. Not only do I end up wasting the time of everyone involved, it's expensive to have a bad day in the studio. A bad day at home is still a bad day, but it's free.
So I'll do the basic recording myself. Once I get the vocals and rhythm guitar layed down I'll bring in a few other musicians to flesh out the sound. Then it's off to a professional studio for the final mix-down and mastering.
If all goes well I'll have the finished product in hand by early January.

Monday, July 7, 2008

They're, Gonna Put Me In The Movies...

His name was Mike, he was the toughest guy in school and he usually kept to himself. One day he was in a talkative mood and mentioned to me that if a person acted like they belonged, they could pretty much go anywhere unmolested.

Years later I was an extra in the movie "Rough Riders." One day I passed Sam Elliott on my way to the makeup trailer to get a haircut (I was supposed to be in the Army) and he smiled, his deep voice booming.

"Good morning, sir."

That was the first thing I learned on set, that Sam Elliott was a regular guy, and polite. The second thing I learned is that Mike's advice was right on the money.

There were two food lines, one for the extras and another for the cast and crew. The extras were fed baloney sandwiches and store brand potato chips. When I saw that, I remembered Mike's advice and strolled over to the line outside the catering truck. They were serving a choice of a steak lunch, or grilled swordfish with a mango salsa. I stood in line with the actors and crew and feigned boredom. Occasionally I'd look at my watch and sigh, as if I couldn't believe that I actually had to stand in line. When my turn at the window came I ordered the swordfish and walked back over to the table where some of my fellow extras were sitting.

When the inevitable questions about my upgraded meal were asked, I explained my friend Mike's philosophy of looking like you belonged. The next day two of the other extras joined me in line. They were both nervous, and it showed. Furtively they stole glances before averting their eyes back to the ground. They whispered to each other a few times, with terrified expressions. After a few minutes one of the crew approached them.

"You guys are extras, right? This line is for actors and crew only."

My would be compatriots scuttled off to the other chow line, with baloney on stale bread in their immediate future. I looked at the crew member that busted them and smiled a bemused smile, while shaking my head as if to say,

"Can you believe those guys?"

The crew member smiled at me and walked away. I ordered the steak, medium.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

This is our annual neighborhood 4th of July parade. It's kind of sweet, seeing the little guys and girls on their bikes, riding behind the fire truck. There will be BBQ and ice cream during the day, and fire works when then sun goes down.
Here's to you. May you find a way to be independent, may you live the life you are supposed to live.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I've Got Ramblin' Fever...

In the last thirty years I've lived in seventeen different cities. That seems about right. After two or three years in the same place I start to get restless. A renter for most of my life, I've also moved between different apartments within the same town on several occasions. All of that changed six years ago when I got married. My wife has two daughters from her first marriage, and wanted them to have the stability of living in the same home at least until they graduated high school. She is also as much of a restless spirit as I am, but motherhood trumps all.

Now the girls are in college and we're putting the house on the market. In the last few weeks I've been a painter, landscaper, plumber, janitor, furniture mover and electrician. My least favorite was my experience as a plumber, which resulted in a face full of scalding hot water.

I enjoyed the landscaping. It gets brutally hot and humid in this part of Texas, and the outside spaces have suffered from my neglect. Yesterday I spent four hours pulling weeds, trimming roses and hacking away at the wisteria. Soaked in sweat, sore from using muscles I haven't used in a while, the rhythm of the work invited daydreaming. Tomorrow I'll finish up the landscaping and our home will be a showplace once again, ready to lure the next buyer. An open house is like being on a first date. The house is dressed a little better than usual, not a hair out of place, and on its best behavior.

We'll miss our friends and neighbors, but we're ready for a change. My wife has been in this house for eleven years, the longest she's been in one place during her adult life. We'll have a new place to explore, new people to meet, new friends to make. Old friends will visit, and life will go on.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What Was I Thinking?

Someone once said that you need to be an introvert to write and an extrovert to perform. I suppose this means that singer/songwriters like myself suffer from (at best) a mild case of multiple personality disorder. I jest, but it sure feels that way sometimes.

Many of my contemporaries are very talented at working the room when they are off-stage, and in fact, consider themselves to be onstage from the time they enter the venue until the time that they leave. They'll walk from table to table, introducing themselves to complete strangers and thanking them for coming out to the show. They'll mention their website, gather email addresses and phone numbers, offer to autograph Cd's and pose for photos.

I can be as gregarious as the next person when I'm on stage. I'll tell stories between songs, joke with the audience, and on a good night give a performance smooth enough to convince almost anyone that what I'm doing is the easiest thing in the world. As soon as I exit the stage the introvert takes over and I feel exposed. My eyes hit the floor, and I shuffle off to a corner of the room to steal glances at the crowd while wondering if I've made a complete fool of myself. If anyone approaches me off-stage with a kind word I'll mumble a thank you and try to extricate myself from the conversation as soon as possible. I'm sure that on more than one occasion someone has mistaken my shyness for conceit.

There are many like me, other singer/songwriters, actors, you name it. Many people are in the entertainment industry because they want to be "rich and famous", but some of us are in it because we've found that one thing that helps the world make sense for us, and we can't imagine life without it. For me it has always been music.

I used to ride my bicycle to school in the first grade and make up two songs on the way there. I thought everyone did it. When I got a little older I realized that making up songs was something kind of special, and assumed that I would one day be a writer of some sort. It felt right. It felt good. I've spoken with actors who've had a similar experience the first time they got roped into doing a school play. From the moment they started pretending, it made sense to them. In a strange way it helped them to feel more connected with other people.

That's what music is for me. A way to connect with my fellow human beings. When I got out of the Navy I moved to Austin, TX with the intent of becoming a professional songwriter. I imagined that the way I would become established as a tunesmith was that other musicians would hear my songs, record them, and once word got around I could just stay home and write songs full-time. So I started booking a few gigs and waited for the other musicians to beat a path to my door. One night I was playing in a club across town and noticed a table full of people who looked vaguely familiar. I leaned over and asked them where I'd seen them before and they replied that they'd heard me earlier in the week at a club on Sixth Street.

"What brings y'all to this side of town?"

"You mentioned that you would be playing here, so we came out."

For most entertainers this would be a wonderful thing to hear. It freaked me out. For some reason it had never occurred to me that anyone would see me as an entertainer. I was a writer, looking for someone else to be the front man. I had a few more gigs booked for the upcoming weeks. After I honored my commitments I did not perform in public for the next six years. I only came out of my self-imposed exile because I missed making that human connection.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Sometimes chasing the muse is like trying to fold smoke: damn near impossible. Then there are the times when you can't get the words down fast enough, scribbling in a near panic so as not to lose the lyrics that come pouring out. Most of the time it's just somewhere in between.

Last Thursday I met with a friend that I sometimes co-write with. We threw a few ideas at each other, a verse here and a chorus there, pieces of inspiration that haven't yet made it to full-fledged song status. Today I was looking over all of the notes I took from that meeting and wound up with most of a song. I'm riding the coattails of my friend's muse on this one, so he'll have edit privileges and ultimately the final say on the completed tune, but it feels pretty damn good so far.

Many writers will tell you that they don't enjoy writing, but they do enjoy having written. In my case, once the words start flowing again there is nothing else like it. There have been far too many dry spells in the past for me to complain about the process. I started this blog last month to force myself to write something, anything, five days a week. I did it, and occasionally not without a few moments of mild panic when I realized that it was approaching midnight and I still didn't have a clue as to what the subject for the day was going to be. As a result, I've written almost twelve thousand words in the last month, and it feels good. Maybe no one is reading this, maybe no one will ever read it, but at the very least I have honed my writing skills a bit, especially when it comes to prose.

I've always wanted to write a novel, but the song form is hard wired into my brain. Give me the most convoluted plot you can think of, and chances are I can condense it down to a three and one half minute narrative, and it'll rhyme. Maybe you can even dance to it.

So now I've written prose for a month, and I can see how it's a real possibility for me to actually complete a novel.