That Familiar Hiss...

Wednesday, March 06, 2019
For years I've listened to musical CDs. In the car. At home. I thought I was happy. (Before that it was cassette tapes. And before that, 8-track tapes.)

But then my husband got me a record player several years ago. I pulled out the box of LPs that had been languishing in the basement--ruined, I thought--and put one on the turntable.

Hisss. The needle bobbed up and down as it rode the wave of the record, round and round. That sound brought back so many memories. Vinyl has something that no "digitally remastered" CD will ever have.

I think Carole King's Tapestry album was the first one I bought. "So Far Away." "I Feel the Earth Move." "You've Got a Friend." "Smackwater Jack." "Where You Lead." "Natural Woman." Those songs are so distinctive, I still remember them even though it's been 48 years since I bought the record and almost wore the 
vinyl out.

(As a 12-year-old, I had a life-sized poster of this album cover hanging in my bedroom. My dad used to joke about Carole King's toejam. To be clear, her feet looked extremely clean and well-scrubbed.)

My challenge is to make my writing distinctive. Memorable. I'm sending off a manuscript and when I get 10 rejections (2 down. 8 more to go.), I'll make some changes to my query letter, and send it to 10 more agents. In the meantime, I wonder...

Is my writing distinctive? Do I tell a compelling story?

I read an article that gave me some points to ponder. The # 4 (Show With a Spin) especially got me thinking. There's even a link to a Kurt Vonnegut article. In it, he advises to "begin as close to the end as possible" when writing a short story. That's a technique I love.

Then I happened on a piece on writing that appeared in The Guardian. In it, Margaret Atwood had some writing advice:

"You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You've been backstage. You've seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a ­romantic relationship, unless you want to break up."

I've been backstage. I've been there when every one of the 53,000 words have been put onto paper. I've had friends read it... and none of them are romantically involved with me.

Now I just have to keep my fingers crossed as I hope my manuscript is memorable (in a good way) for at least one agent. 

Tapestry was the first record I bought. How about you? What was the first record you bought?

Sioux is a middle-school teacher by day. By night, she alternates between being a couch-drooler and a freelance writer. If you'd like to read more of her stuff, head to her blog.


Renee Roberson said...

I had a portable 45 record player that I LOVED. I still have my old collection that I refuse to get rid of! Some of my first 45s that I remember playing are "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen, "The Tide is High" by Blondie, and "Still Rock and Roll to Me" by Billy Joel. Of course, those were purchased by my mother so as you can see, she loved her rock music! I love that quote about writing from Margaret Atwood. My poor husband knows to put a helmet on when he reads something of mine, because if he starts asking too many questions I'm liable to throw something, LOL!

Margo Dill said...

Ha--Renee, my very first 45 was The Tide Is High--someone gave it to me for my birthday.

My parents had the Carole King Tapestry album and I love that album so much--I used to sing it into my baton microphone all the time when I was young. I still love it to this day. I sing "Beautiful" to Katie when she's going to bed on some nights.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee and Margo--Both your comments made me feel old. I am from the same era as your parents, I guess, since we all enjoy the same music.

Yikes! ;)

Margo Dill said...

Oh no! Don't feel old! Music is ageless. :)

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