Nature and Music: Nurturing the Writerly Soul

I meant to write this up and post it last Monday – you know, back when I felt hope and optimism – but since this little writing story started with music and ended with music, and because more music came my way this weekend, it’s coming to you now.

A couple of weekends ago, I had the unexpected pleasure of spending the day on the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus to read, write, walk, and hang about while my oldest son rehearsed with many high school peers from around the state (and beyond, obviously, since we’re from Minnesota). It was a gorgeous weekend as we’ve been having unseasonably warm and sunny days this fall.

I’d been struggling with finishing the current draft of a novel. I was THIS CLOSE to the end, but could not quite get the words out. The first thing that helped (although, admittedly it was more helpful for how to transition into Book 2 of this duology than with how to end Book 1) was my son’s high school Gala concert. It’s a yearly fundraising concert that features the top band, orchestra, and choral groups. In other words, some beautiful music.

And so, the following Saturday, I was determined to squeeze the words out, no matter what. I settled in at the UWEC student center – Davies Center and stared at the page. Then outside. Then the page. And then, a student started playing the piano on the second level. It was perfect. “Hallelujah” and “How Great Thou Art” and something else that I didn’t recognize. It was perfect. My main character finds solace in a piano and it seemed quite fitting. I tweeted this out:


I found out later that the university chancellor favorited it and retweeted it, which got me a lot more favorites, but even more interesting was this follow up tweet:


Sorry, Chancellor Jim. Didn’t mean to stir things up.

(Here’s the piano in question, by the way. Not gonna deny it does look like a nice one, though I don’t know much about them…):


And so, with that inspiration, I changed over my playlist to my David Lanz one on Pandora.

Was that the cure?

Well, no.

I had lunch with my son, tried some more, with no success, and then decided to take a break. I went on a hike at the nature preserve:


Stopped to walk out on this jutting out rock:


And stared at the cool pattern in the river for a bit.


Kept going and saw this ahead:



Doesn’t it remind you of a space that Anne and Diana (of Anne of Green Gables) would play in? That then encouraged me to take a break on this bench and read for a bit:


The book: When the Moon Was Ours by Anne-Marie McLemore (I recommend)

Now, I thought, now I am ready. I headed back to the student center and, well, I’d like to say the words suddenly flowed out, magically, but they did not. I persevered, however, and managed out 1200 words, which is great, if only it hadn’t taken all day.

The temporary reward, though, was listening to this group play:


And the good news is that the next day I DID finish. Boy, I needed that because just two days later was the election, and I haven’t been able to write anything at all since then. I’ve not even wanted to try.

And now, I want to try. Words are my fuel and they are my voice. While I cannot always express myself in the ways I want to in essay or verbal form, I can do it in fiction. I am not sure what will happen when I put myself in front of a blank page again, but after another Honor Band concert at St. Olaf College this past weekend…


…I have hope again that I can do this writing thing.

For my song, I could have gone with a piano version of Hallelujah, and I do love that song, but I’ll go with the other from that day, How Great Thou Art.


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