Fender Rhodes. Image: public domain

I had a post written up a few days ago that I never managed to get published. Which kinda sucks, except that I’ve increased my word count in a major happy way. I hit the 10K mark which, as I mentioned on Twitter, is really not reason to celebrate for some folks but, for me, considering the pregnant brain block and the fact that I have a four week old, is pretty damned awesome. I feel like my brain has been restored, and once again, I’m walking around with a book writing itself. It’s been a long time since that happened, and it’s reminding me just why I love writing so much.

That said, I’ve also had a little guilty twinge now and again that what I’m writing isn’t speculative fiction. I mean, that’s a stupid sentiment, I know. But I’m such a fan of spec fic that it feels really odd not incorporating fantastic elements somehow. Though, if you go back, music was my first passion before spec fic, before Tolkien. I picked up the guitar when I was 12. And there’s so much in this current book that’s cathartic for me, that expresses thoughts and experiences I’ve been carrying around with me for decades. There isn’t much in the book that happened to me, but the characters draw on things that I really went through.

The most fun part of writing is creating documentation. I’ve been reading interviews of my favorite artists and using that to integrate into the book. Faux interviews with an imagined band during a fictitious recording session. It’s no end of fun. Not to mention, Wikipedia articles and Rolling Stone interviews are great backstory, even if they’re entirely fabricated.

Plus, I’ve been singing and playing guitar again. To the point where my fingers hurt, reminding me of days in the recording studio when I had to slather SuperGlue on my fingers to prevent the skin from breaking through…

What’s working…
Like any good band story, it’s about relationships. The Kate –> Tom / James –> Sara relationship is becoming fantastically complicated. Kate, who’s telling the story, is not your average romantic lead. And I like that. That their stories play out in music, which they then perform, is pretty neat for the tension. I’m also digging the setting (Nashville, currently) as well as the friendship between Kurt and Kate. Their scenes tend to write themselves.

What’s not working so well…
So, there’s a drummer in the band named Paul. And so far, he might as well be wallpaper. The only thing I know about him so far is that he doesn’t live in Nashville with the rest of the band, but with his family in the DC area, but he’s about to arrive on the scene to do his sessions. He’s the only member of the band that has a family and is settled, and while the rest of the crew would rather that he hangs out with them more often, he’s been distancing himself from them. But I guess not every character has to be such a huge personality. I’ve got enough of that going already.

What’s coming up…
There’s some fun stuff coming up, including Tom’s crazy ex-wife Maeve, as well as a live gig that’s going to have Kate rethink the future for the first time in a while. Also, some songwriting that goes in a rather curious direction and a death in Kate’s family. We’ll also learn more about what exactly happened when the band kicked out Sara, and what she’s up to. Also, a trip to England.

Some first-draft excerpty goodness. It’s two weeks after Tom’s told the group he’s been born again, and Kate and Kurt are trying to get into the groove before they go back to the studio:

“… And it’s not just that she can’t sing,” he was saying as he pushed around his huevos rancheros. “It’s that the production level is pushed to the limits of digital intervention. I mean, at a point, why don’t we just let robots do all the singing? It’d be a hell of a lot more entertaining. It’s like Mr. Roboto taken to the next level. The musical singularity!”

“Not everyone has a Tom Chesley,” I pointed out, which was my usual defense. Just saying Tom’s name made me want to barf up breakfast. Every morning since his born again “event” I’d woken up, convinced he’s up to some elaborate prank.

Hi, denial phase. How’s it going? It’s me, Kate. Just wanted to let you know that you and I will be spending the next indeterminate amount of time together, hanging out, hashing out, you know, the usual.

The thing was, though, even with his newfound faith, it was getting harder to hate the new Tom. He was on time to the studio, his voice was consistently amazing, and he was actually involving himself in the recording process. Our last two albums had been strongarmed into submission by James and me, piecing together Tom’s takes with the magic of digital editing and a sincere hope that the label wouldn’t notice. Even sober, Tom was never the best in a recording environment. His voice was too big and wild. During his worst, drug-addled days, his live performances rarely missed. Once for “exhaustion” (read: near overdose) and twice for rehab-related issues. He was born to perform, and he rarely brought that energy to the studio.

Except now.

“And that’s the problem, isn’t it?” Kurt asked. “God. Remind me why I got into this mess?”

“Because Sara and James were going to kill each other, and I needed a bassist I could trust not to sleep around with the band.” I smiled when it said it. It had been two years since Sara had left, and while I missed performing with her every single day, having Kurt instead meant significantly less drama (if more complaining). “Also, the paycheck. Even if you did come after the big bang, you’re still doing better than you were in Atlanta.”

Kurt laughed. “Yeah, that’s a very attractive feature. But, well, between this Tom stuff and…” He sort of squinted at me, judging without words. “I don’t have to tell you that it’s cracking. You can feel it; hell, I can feel it, and I distance myself from everyone at all costs.”

“Except musically. You have no issues asserting yourself there, y’know. You’re a musical jackass.”

“It’s because I’m almost always right.” He gave me one of his brilliant smiles and hailed the waitress for more coffee.