Miscellaneous and Sundries

Miscellaneous and Sundries

It’s only been two weeks and I managed to make another blog post! Will wonders never cease?

Writing Updates

I’ve been trying to take the comments of my beta readers to heart and make some changes in the novel. A new character was falling a little flat and was part of a subplot that while important, veered too from the main story. It was cool, but the point I was trying to make was lost because it took a left turn in Albuquerque. My mission was to flesh out the character and reconstruct that section of the novel.

And, until today, I was not very successful. My attempts turned into sessions at staring at the screen, knowing I needed to do something, but not sure what. This past Friday night, I tried just writing a mostly useless backstory for the character…that is when I wasn’t falling asleep at the computer. Today I sat down this afternoon and with the power of coffee (the true source of many writers’ superpowers. Some writers will tell you it’s inspiration and creativity. Bullshit. It’s the caffeine!), I made substantial progress. I kept filling out useless backstory until he started to come into focus and the solution to fix the subplot came to me as well. I still actually have to write it, but at least I have a vision of where I’m going.

Genre Bending and A Wave of Nostalgia

Last Sunday, my wife and I went to see Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox in concert; the tickets were one of my Christmas presents. Here’s an action shot from the concert:

Postmodern Jukebox takes current pop hits by Taylor Swift, Beyonce, and even Justin Bieber and transforms them into songs that could have been played from the 20’s to the 60’s; from jazz to swing to Motown to gospel. The musicians were absolutely AMAZING – even my wife liked it and she’s been only moderately interested in the group. If you get the chance to see them, I totally recommend it!

But what does this have to do with…anything on your blog?

My love of PMJ is similar to my love of steampunk: in both cases, they are genre-bending. Where PMJ takes music and transforms it into something that could be from another era, steampunk does the same thing with science fiction. It creates an alternate reality where we have major technological advances in a society we recognize. I know that some people like to keep their genre’s pure, but I love a good mashup. Often times, taking two things and putting them together can create something totally new that isn’t really the child of either parent. It can be good or atrocious, but it’s something new.

The other parallel is that they both thrive on nostalgia and the conceit that things were so much better in the past. In truth, that’s not true in the slightest. The styles of music that PMJ uses were often developed by musicians that couldn’t play “white” concert venues. While we view the Victorian/Edwardian era as a time of manners and class, it was also a time where women weren’t allowed to vote and colonialism was at its height. Nostalgia can be a good thing: it is important to remember and honor the past. But it’s important to note that the “good old days” were often not good old days for every one. However, I have to say, I don’t think it’s possible to leave a PMJ concert and not be in a good mood. If you want to catch them on tour, check them out here or you can watch many of their videos on YouTube.

What’s Up Next?

I’m going to be struggling to fit in writing in the next few months. This coming weekend we head to Canada to spend the weekend with our son and next month, I’m playing in the orchestra in three high school musicals, so the writing time will be a little harder to find. But later this spring, I hope to have more exciting news

Until next time, Happy Journeys!

Mike

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