Seldom do Aussie pub rock anthems get recognition for their assistance in solving writing dilemmas, but this changes here. By the way that’s not a sentence I’d ever thought I’d have to come up with, but there you go, writing is strange like that.
We know that ideas come from anywhere. Like today, when I was driving home after work, my randomly generating #commutemusic selected Run to Paradise by the Choir Boys. (Ok yes, I’m embarrassed to admit the song even came up, but am especially surprised at being inspired by it. It’s not like it’s Flame Trees – an oddly moving song about nostalgia for the kind of bygone, blokey small town/industrial Straya that I personally couldn’t escape fast enough as a teen, but the song still gets me every time.)
However, I digress.
What I was saying is, who knew anything even remotely inspired could come from Choir Boys circa 1987 – then or now? Follow the link and be startled too.
No, that’s another digression.
Rather than skipping through Paradise, I was musing on my NaNoWriMo project for the nth time. This afternoon, it was regarding Sonia Orchard’s advice on ensuring each chapter’s conflict turned around something different. That’s when it happened.
Hold My Head Up
Orchard suggested, quite usefully, that each chapter’s major problem should be uniquely driven. For example, jealousy in one chapter, but not in the others. What occurred to me while absently humming along, is that my literary-horror-but-not manuscript is yet to reveal what it’s about. But I think I’ve got it now. It’s about grief.
This was a handy and important breakthrough, but it wasn’t the BIG breakthrough.
Open Your Eyes Up
The response to Orchard’s advice wasn’t in this realisation about grief, but in realising how I can apply and work with the concept of or schema for the seven (or five) stages of grief. It’s a theory I can use while not actually really believing grief works exactly like stages. Each chapter can feature, at the base of the conflict: shock or denial, guilt and, acceptance etc. That was the BIG idea.
Why’d I let ’em slip away
Well, I didn’t let this idea slip away. Songs can be useful mnemonic devices. If slightly judgy and sexist, yet catchy songs like Run to Paradise, are stuck in your head like they are mine, then they may assist in recalling the notions that pop out of nowhere as you mumble along to them, when unable to stop to write them down or otherwise record them.
Walk in the light
I don’t know what my lesson is here. It could be that it’s unwise to dismiss naff 80s rock when considering solutions to creative impasses. It could raise questions about exactly when depictions of the working class disappeared from Australian music and the literary landscape. It could be about how a writer can both appreciate pub rock ballads of longing and beer epitomised by the likes of Cold Chisel while also loathing beer and deploring most of the culture that revolves around it.
Furthermore, it could be about how I can manage to hold all this in my head while also pondering whether Minor Literature could work as a theoretical framework through which to appreciate the latest X Files episodes, and whether to write about my self-imposed sketch book art project I’m managing to simultaneously avoid and continue.
Or it’s none of these things, and I’m on a fool’s errand, but don’t you worry ’bout me any more. Probably, in thinking about this, I did it just for fun…and if any of this is true, it could never be wrong.
In terms of writing solutions though, the Choir Boys would say: you’ll tell me, this is paradise.