Music is Fuel

i wish you

Music is fuel for me (right along with a good, strong cup of dark roast coffee).

My daily grind begins at 5:30am every morning and it is never long after the alarm interrupts my dreams before the music is turned on. I do enjoy, and have a great appreciation for some good quality silence, but more often than not music is alive in my background somewhere; my own personal life soundtrack.

When you drudge away eight hours of your day in a tiny cubicle surrounded by noisy people and ringing telephones like me, headphones and a good playlist are a necessity. But more than that, in a job that isn’t exactly my passion in life, music is the thing that gets me through the day and keeps my over-active imagination going full speed ahead.

I decided to share my current  favorite playlist here. Perhaps one of these songs will inspire someone else along the way, like they have for me. My playlists usually revolve around whatever thing I’m obsessed with at that particular moment in life. Since I’m smack in the middle of editing a first draft of a novel, this list is a collection of songs that have one thing or another to do with the characters in our book and the pieces of myself I have put in to each of them.

Enjoy!

 

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Saturday Scribbles

Image

I am serial scribbler.

I have an almost unconscious habit of scribbling down snippets of semi-poetry, pieces of paragraphs, or flashes of daydreams on sticky notes, junk mail envelopes, or any scrap of paper I can get my hands on in the moment. And I am constantly discovering these “scribbles” stuffed in old purses, jacket pockets, buried under stacks of bills, stuck beneath piles of pens in my desk drawers or wedged in between the pages of my favorite books. I’ve never really done much with these scribbles. They just seem to be this quirky extension of myself, cluttering up my spaces.

Today, as I was sitting at my desk trying to do some editing on the book, one such scribble caught my attention, peeking out of from the pages of my trusty dictionary. This particular scribble was one I wrote last summer about my writing partner and I and the journey of our book. I thought I’d actually do something with it and share it here. It’s not Shakespeare, but it’s personal and relevant to this Brave New Blogging Adventure I’m on. So here it is … an original Chelsey Whitlow Scribble.

You ease down

and curl up comfortable

on your end

of my couch.

Friend.

Pen in hand,

imagination primed

for word on page.

To dream unhindered

together,

for just a little while.

There is freedom

and healing

in the craft of

a story.

A mask,

for our own histories,

in turn,

giving another

her own voice.

 

Chelsey Whitlow

 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Why Stories Are Important

I woke up this morning wondering why stories are so important, why I would rather read or write than do most anything else in the world, and why they often become a part of my very insides.

 

If you were to walk into my tiny apartment you would no longer find a dining room, but in its place a makeshift library…an entire wall full of books. Of all the things in my apartment, aside from my laptop and a couple of family heirlooms, this wall of books would be the thing I would grieve over most in the event of a fire or natural disaster.  Each book on those shelves has become a part of me in one way or another, from the battered copies of Charlotte’s Web and The Chronicles of Narnia to the paperback spy novels I read just because I know my dad loved them to my recent tear stained copy of The Fault in Our Stars . These books, in a strange way, tell my own story.

The stories on my shelves have weathered many a rough season. They’ve gone to battle with me more times than I care to count and have been both my comfort and my courage. And I know I am not alone in this.

Stories are important because they are, in fact, Magic. The Magic lies in a story’s power to transform, to open eyes, to show that slaying the dragon is possible.

Stories help heal us. They teach us we are not alone in the world. They show us our struggles have been someone else’s in another time and in another place. They give us courage and show us that even when the enemy has the upper hand, there is always a way to defeat him.  And they show us that when we are defeated, there is a reservoir of strength deep within to help us rise again.

Stories are important, because at the end of the day, in the middle of harsh realities and the monotonous daily grind of life, they give us Hope. And hope is some of the most powerful magic of all. With hope, we can endure. With hope, we learn to survive. And with hope, we thrive.

 

 

 

To Begin… Or Stay in Shadows

A little over 19 months ago I sat down in a coffee shop with a good friend with an idea for a novel bouncing around in my brain. I couldn’t shake it. I had no idea what to do with it, but it was relentless. You see, I love a good story, kind of like a dog loves an endless supply of rawhide bones. In fact, I spend a good portion of my time daydreaming up such stories (that’s for another post) or combing the aisles of my favorite bookstore or library searching voraciously for another new tale to get lost in. I’ve always wanted to turn one of my many crazy daydream adventures into a novel of my own.

Up until that day, I had never really taken myself seriously enough to try. After talking for a bit over lattes, I blurted out this crazy idea to my friend. Before I knew it hopes for something grand began to emerge. My friend actually took my idea seriously. She was even excited about the idea and wanted to join me on the quest. (Here’s the friend and now writing partner who took me seriously…Aren’t we adorable…)

meg and i

Neither one of us knew how this was going to work or if we would ever really finish it. But, the point is, we began. Because we believed in the possibility someone else could fall in love with this story like we were beginning to do. Now, after almost two years, over the distance of two different cities, and with the added challenge of having a full-time day job and my writing partner being a full-time college student, the first draft of our story is done (see joyous picture here…)

finished

For me, that afternoon in the coffee shop was an act of bravery. Countless story ideas, dreams, babblings and scribbles lay hidden away unseen in notebooks in the top of my closet. The things I am most passionate about, I have a bad habit of keeping closely guarded. Only a rare and trusted few have heard me tell of these things, a whispered snippet in the break room or a random tidbit over a late night beverage. But this story was different somehow. This was my first to trust in the hands of someone else. The first to really take shape. The first to merge with the ideas of another creative brain. And the first of many more…I hope.

I’m not exactly sure I could decipher what made this time different for me …what ultimately urged me forward and decide to risk it. But I know one thing absolutely… it did something profound within this guarded, introvert of a girl. It proved that sometimes risk is an easier solution than continuing on closed up and shut down.

Sometimes, things long-buried, rise to the surface and demand daylight.

The last 19 months have been incredible and difficult and enlightening and surprising. We are both better people I believe. Blood, sweat, tears, laughter, and lots of coffee have been poured out. Two weeks ago we finished our first draft, all 98,000 glorious words of it. And now, the real fun begins in the revision stage. But the journey is far from over, in fact, these long months are only the first leg of what I’m sure will be an incredible adventure. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Anais Nin…

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

This quote shines in a new light for me now. For so long I believed it about other people. It’s personal now and encompasses what I’d like this blog to be about…Risk, courage, passion, the things that make me come alive and the things I’ve always been too scared to try. It’s time. I’ve spent far too long in the shadows. So, here’s to being brave….and telling some good stories along the way. Cheers!