Today I’m honored to provide a guest post by Lisa Hayes, a singer/songwriter extraordinaire. I’ll confess to a love of passionate and lively Americana roots music, and I love Lisa’s music. I’d describe Lisa as three parts Susan Tedeschi (before her music became a bit, at times, sappy) and two parts Grace Potter (before she added in disco funk elements). But today we’re going to enjoy the output of another one of her muse influences, her engaging prose.
I’d like to start by thanking Patrick for asking me to guest post on The Artist’s Road. Besides his blog, Patrick’s tagline is a favorite of mine.
At Monday Morning!, my tagline is For Writers (&Fans) of Women’s Fiction & Roots Music.
I hail from the storytelling world via songwriting. My publishing deals were in tandem with record deals. That’s because they were for an artist versus a songwriter, as in Springsteen, Petty, Cold Play (my stab at something other than ancient), etc.
To give you an idea of how much words matter to me, this is a favorite review culled from twenty-five years worth for Rebel Train, The Violets, Lisa Hayes & The Violets, just plain Lisa Hayes, & now the Lisa Hayes Band.
To quote Portland, Oregon’s Williamette Week:
“Slide guitar and aggressive drums take the back seat to Lisa Hayes and her soul-searching brand of musical poetry.”
My first publishing deal was from Kaz Utsunomiya, then President of Virgin Publishing. As you can well imagine, I hold a special place in my heart for Kaz. Next up was John Titta, then Senior VP/General Manager of Warner/Chappell Music. He reached out his hand after a gig at the Mercury Lounge in New York and said, “I hope you’ll consider making your home with us.” And with that handshake (and then way too much moolah spent on a music lawyer hashing out those pesky “details”), I realized a lifelong dream. Warner/Chappell. I had reached my own personal songwriting pinnacle. The years of van touring, living in band houses, and thousands of hours spent honing my craft…well, it had paid off, again.
I have now embarked on a different creative path, deciding to write a novel, which I have (sort of) finished. Damn there’s some serious editing involved in corralling 80,000 plus words! There are two more stories percolating in my head along with a screenplay.
I am also sorting out the maze known as Looking For an Agent.
For my first novel, I started with what I know, setting Reinvention in the behind-the-scenes world of L.A.’s music industry. This enabled me to give readers something I rarely see depicted—a realistic peek behind the music industry’s curtain in all its glory and gory detail, eschewing the sensationalism and especially any one-song shows where an ingénue becomes—ta-dah—famous. Basically, anything that makes me cringe because it’s B.S. My second novel? There’s a lot of time spent on Planet Jugulahr with a flapper lovin’ alien. 🙂
So, now that you know enough about me to follow this post, I’ll get down to the subject that Patrick thought would be interesting for me to explore: What it means to honor your muse as both a musician and a fiction writer.
I love that Patrick chose the word HONOR, and I’d love to know if you feel that word as deeply as I do when it comes to your art.
Another important word to me is IMAGERY. Making someone feel in words, this is a must for me.
And the biggest word of all? HONESTY.
I divorced after 18 years of marriage and then jumped into a rebound. Big mistake. After extracting myself, I sat in my music room and wrote for a year. Literally.
I wrote about the rebound’s painful experience. Excerpt from “This Winter” (an unreleased song).
If I could write a story
Of betrayal and lost faith
I’d wrap you in the pages
And put the book away
I took a good peak under my rug o’ life and came clean about my obsessive behavior during said rebound. Excerpt from “Sweet Forgiveness.”
My sweet sweet sweet obsession
With his every waking thought
If I just listen a little closer
Well I might hear just what I want
I recorded a solo CD and then moved to Austin, TX, where I wrote about leaving so much behind—my old life, my band. I crafted the words to reflect my emptiness. Excerpt from “She Drives.”
She looks a mile or so ahead
Down a long and dusty road
Behind her there is nothin’
But a long long time ago
Yeah, it was time to go
She drives down the highway
With a sun that feels like rain
But hey, if she just keeps goin’
She just might believe again
So she drives
It would be another year of distance before I could write about my marriage ending. Excerpt from “Somewhere Deep In Texas.”
See I took a deep breath
Took a good look around
I closed all the doors
I never made a sound
I took a piece of my heart
And laid her on the ground
She’s buried out west
Where she was found
And I moved on
But I haven’t let go
I’m gettin’ some faith
I’m hopin’ that it shows
I carried my heart
To where the green grass grows
And somewhere deep in Texas
I’m gonna let her go
ADMISSIONS. CONFESSIONS. But there is also a recurring theme throughout my songs. HOPE. Yes, I am aware how dark my words can be, but they are always laced with hope. On purpose.
So what about writing fiction? What about all those 80,000 plus words that are made up? Where does my musical muse fit in when she’s not there to fly free with the unvarnished truth? And is there truth in fiction?
Of course there is.
I do not profess to speak authoritatively on fiction writing, but I would bet my bottom dollar that every writer has sprinkled bits of themselves throughout a novel. How can they not? I know they speak the truth of their vivid imagination.
So, did my musical muse come in handy? You bet. My first draft flew by with her leading the way. Except for the 60,000 to 80,000 word slog. What a pisser! When the puzzle fitting part of novel writing kicked in, I benched her. Then I added a new scene, and she led the way again, creating one of my favorite characters—Lenny, an old-school radio promoter. He dropped in and browsed on the cheese plate while cracking wise. Love that guy. Who doesn’t exist.
Well, I have gabbed on long enough. I’ll end by stringing together my capitalized/bolded words. My penchant for noticing when my subconscious is trying to speak. HONORing my muse—IMAGERY. HONESTY. ADMISSIONS. CONFESSIONS. HOPE.
I’m guessing how I honor my version of storytelling be it songwriting or fiction. Good eye, subconscious. Good eye.
I would love to know how you honor your muse…
At age 14, the first song Lisa Hayes played on guitar was the first song she wrote. She’s been writing, singing, and playing ever since. After twenty-five years as a professional musician, with two major label record & publishing deals, one indie, and two self-released CDs under her belt, she took time off to write her first novel, which she has recently finished. Read her blog, hear her music, and find her on Facebook.
28 thoughts on “Guest Post: Honoring Your Muse”
Lisa, thank you so much for sharing your story! You’ve honored your muse with this post, and me as well.
Thanks so much for having me, Patrick. I love traveling down the artist’s road, you never know what’s around the bend…
Pingback: Honoring Your Muse « Lisa Hayes Blog – For writers (& fans) of Women's Fiction & Roots Rock Music.
Insightful, as always. I love the reveal of how personal your lyrics are. Thanks for turning me on to Patrick’s blog.
What a passionate post! My head’s swirling with reactions and responses.
I haven’t heard you sing yet, but I totally GOT the power of your lyrics (or “musical poetry” – great peg from your favorite review) when I came to the line “So she drives.” It went through me in a big shudder.
Best of luck with your fiction writing. The story for your first novel sounds fascinating and I would queue to buy the book. Screenplays are awesome fun; you will adore that process. Especially since your background has been honed on the brevity of words creating images.
I used to live in the Hill Country so I can totally visualize you in Austin writing those lyrics for “Somewhere Deep In Texas.” The Texas influence comes across clearly in the rhythm of the words.
Was fascinated by your description of your novel-writing process, letting your musical muse switch chairs according to what felt right during various phases. And reading about Lenny turned my desire to read your novel on to Firehose Strength! What a character. Can’t *wait* to meet him.
I loved when you said: “Good eye, subconscious. Good eye.” I said something to a writing friend two days ago (as a way of thanking my subconscious for a juicy idea) and it had the same meaning, in essence. But yours was much more poetic. A keeper, in fact. I’m going to write it into my multi-colored word collage at the front of my journal with your name under the quote.
Thanks, Lisa. You deliver 1,000% as a guest blogger!
Wow. Just heard “Cause of Faith.” I was already in a fantastic mood but now I’m on creative steroids! And, appropriately, it’s Monday morning. 🙂
Thanks so much for the kind words, Milli! And thanks for the heads up that my songwriting process will aid in writing a screenplay.
Thanks for sharing your heart Lisa:) I love what you said…there is truth in fiction! We’ve all sprinkled a bit of ourselves in everything we write. I agree with you…I honor my muse with truth, honesty, raw emotion sprinkled with doses of courage and hope:) Still learning to let it drip onto the page…even when it seems scary:)
Great word there, Lorna—Scary. As artists, we should scare ourselves. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂
> kkushnick: Good to have you here!
> Milli: Love your enthusiasm! (Also didn’t know/remember that the Hill Country was one of the many places you’ve lived. Beautiful country there.
> Lorna: “I honor my muse with truth, honesty, raw emotion sprinkled with doses of courage and hope.” Love it!
So very glad you honored your storytelling talent by writing this thought-provoking post and sharing your creative process with us.
“ADMISSIONS. CONFESSIONS. But there is also a recurring theme throughout my songs. HOPE. Yes, I am aware how dark my words can be, but they are always laced with hope. On purpose.”
I can relate to this more than I can say. I do fret at times how my writing can be dark at times, but I feel as you that they always lead down a road to HOPE.
I love how your muse introduced you to your character Lenny, the wonder and surprise of it all! The creative process of writing can be mysterious and even though you tell us Lenny doesn’t exist, I bet some who will read your novel when it’s published will swear you based that character on someone you know from the music industry, and drive themselves nuts trying to figure out who it is 😀
That’s what is great about fiction. I don’t know about you, but some fictional characters I’ve ‘met’ and traveled with through a given story seem more real, way more ‘believable’ (and sometimes touch or seem to understand me at a deeper level) than some people I know in the tangible world.
Thanks, Carole, and I wholeheartedly agree about fictional characters touching us on such a deep level. And I’m also glad you relate to my penchant for lifting up the rug o’ life. There’s all sorts of great stories under there 🙂
Ooh, lifting up the rug o’ life. Sounds like part of a great line in a song, not to mention cool metaphor!
This post just radiates emotional honesty and passion! Thank you for sharing your story with us, Lisa. I, too, find myself constantly drawn back to themes of hope and courage (which, really, is just another form of honesty). I know absolutely nothing about music, but this is a very nice guest post!
Thanks, Annie. You have struck me with your words—themes of hope and courage, another form of honesty…perfect!
I think honoring the Muse is a wonderful way to go. I may get frustrated with mine when she takes a vacation with my characters and leaves me behind, but for her to have given me such fun novel ideas is a true gift. And, yes, I think writers do put something of ourselves into the story. It may be only a small shared experience with a character, but it’s there. I think it’s part of the creative temperament. I remember learning in Art History how many painters put self-portraits into their works…. Very nice post!
Thanks, JM! And gift is the right word. Though I did not start writing my novel in earnest until my go to reader said, “Sam (Samantha, my protagonist) no longer reminds me of you,” I still noticed specks of myself. Some I took out and some I didn’t. An example—my penchant for loving “moments.” The beauty was that Sam experienced them in a different way. Interesting journey, this novel writing.
What a great post! I’m always amazed by artists who can work in more than one sphere. I can barely handle the writing – LOL
Thanks, Julie. And you did one of my favorite things – you made me smile!
Excellent post! As a visual artist, I’d have preferred to be a musical one … music stirs me more. Just listend to several of your song clips, including “Break these Chains” — wonderful! — (forgive me if I didn’t get the title quite right in clicking back over here). Is “Roots Music” the same as “Americana”? Would, say, Niko Case’s work be within the realm of this genre?
And, yes! Indeed, truth resides in fiction. Ever read Joseph Campbell’s “The Power of Myth?” Good read on a similar subject.
Off to take a look at your blog.
Thanks so much, Terri, and yes, Niko fits nicely between Roots Music & Americana. She has always been a favorite of mine.
And I absolutely love that you included Break These Chains! The moment when we stand up and demand to be ourselves.
> Carole Jane: I’m with you on how writing can turn surprisingly dark; I think we as readers read that as well with the “hope” that it leads to HOPE.
> Annie: Courage=honesty. Love it!
> jmmcdowell: Very tolerant of you to forgive your muse for galavanting around with your characters without you!
> Julie: I’m with you on creatives with multiple talents. I focused on that awhile back in another post, a term called “multipotentiality”: https://artistsroad.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/creatives-with-multiple-talents/
> Terri: I’m so glad you’ve discovered Lisa, her music, and her blog!
I’ve definitely got a sprinkling of myself in my first novel The Grey Areas, and my main character of my new book is based heavily on myself.
There we go. Honesty! Thanks, David.
What a fabulous post. I view songwriters in the same high esteem that I do poets — the ability to string together so few words to tell a compelling story is SUCH a gift. Such art! And I’m sure it is helping tremendously with your fiction, Lisa! As the others said, your comments about honesty, confessions, and hope are so moving. Thanks so much for sharing!
Thanks so much, Melissa! It was a pleasure adding my artistic journey to the Artist’s Road.
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