Monthly Archives: October 2011

HANDLE REAL LIVE CHARACTERS WITH CARE

When writing a biography treat other characters how you would like to be treated if they were writing about you.

It’s a juggling act because you don’t want to downplay your story by fudging the truth of how your grade four teacher threw a box of pins at you, but always be aware of the consequence of writing disparaging remarks about people who could take offense to, or, in extreme cases, legal action, against you.

When you write your bio you have the opportunity to show your evolution throughout your story; your other characters do not have this same privilege, so don’t tell the part about how Stretch Raubenheimer fell and damaged his …. while streaking through the caf without first asking Stretch how he feels about this incident or his scarred …. in the spotlight after all these years.

Try not to use your biography as a revenge platform either, like Shania Twain indiscreetly did in ‘From This Moment On’, for that may come back to bite you one day. Telling the truth about those honest-to-goodness baddies in your life may require a few creative writing skills, but it can be done with integrity and flare, leaving you proudly perched on the high road.

Be aware and handle characters with care.

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WRITE IT ALL!

Mean people, nice people, peculiar trends, awful tragedies; these things keep us involved in our lives.

Without villains there are no heroes, without creepy relatives – no normal ones, without disasters – no rescuers, without hate – no love.

Life is about conflict – conflict with ourselves, with others, with our divinity.

Write it all! Write it all! Write it all! … You can always wash your hands afterwards.

From Tweet to Song?

These days I’m experimenting with Twitter, because I was told by young, savvy marketing types that if I want to promote my music, I need to tweet.

So far, I’m not convinced. Maybe it’s a bit of a generational thing: the young like to tweet while us more, ahem, mature types tend to think Twitter would be better renamed Fritter.

As in, who’s got that kinda time to fritter away, to try to whittle meaningful messages – because frankly, I have no interest in reading or tweeting stuff like “Had 2 fried eggs 4 brkfast – yum!” — down to 140 characters, and to follow all the links in your fellow tweeters’ tweets, not to mention wade through endless cryptic messages full of mysterious symbols like #FF and @AddThis that I don’t have time to figure out?

But I digress. So far Twitter has been useful for one thing. One of my first experimental tweets was this: “Horses are the music of the animal world. Curves like melodies, muscles like chords. So am writing songs about horses. Seems fitting.”

And then it occurred to me that maybe those ideas and lines could fit into a song. Because I’ve written nine songs so far for a CD I’m planning that’s all horse songs. I figured I needed a tenth to make it a nice round number. And the one thing I was lacking was a song about big, beautiful draft horses, like the Clydesdales that pull the Budweiser beer wagons, or Belgians, Percherons, or Shires – the biggest of all the draft breeds.

Now it turns out the British band Jethro Tull may well have written the definitive song on the subject, appropriately titled “Heavy Horses,” but it’s a long, loud, progressive rock epic, so I decided there was room for another, more modest tune about these gentle giants of the equine world. And those lovely beasts DO have curves like melodies (those necks, those hindquarters!) and muscles like big power chords…

So I have in fact just finished a song called “The Heavy Horse Song,” and I’m in the studio these days recording it and other new songs. Here’s the chorus:

Curves like melodies, muscles like chords

And the heavy horse rhythms are steady and strong

Curves like melodies, muscles like chords

And the jingle of the harness is the heavy horse song  [© M.L. Hammond 2011]

 So stay tuned for the complete version of the song, which I’ll post somewhere when it’s done.  Meanwhile, if you insist, follow me on Twitter at @chevalgal!

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Marie-Lynn Hammond is a co-founder of Stringband, a seminal Canadian folk group, and a critically acclaimed songwriter living in York Region. In past lives she’s written plays and magazine articles and hosted national CBC radio shows. In between working on two new CDs, she freelances as an editor of both fiction and nonfiction. www.marielynnhammond.com

THE QUEST FOR HAPPINESS CAN BE IN WRITING

To find happiness we try to connect with our body, tame our ego, resign judgement, conquer fear, and live in the moment. But how can accomplish these things without first examining the sensations in our body, the nature of our ego, the basis of our judgement, and the origin of our fear, and the events that brought us to this moment?

Before we set out on our quest for happiness we need to master Self-Understanding, a vital quality which, in itself, will put a twinkle in our eye and a smile on our face.  And this we can do through writing.