I’m still reading Living, Thinking, Looking (Siri Hustvedt), in particular the essay The Real Story in which she discusses how fiction, as she writes it, must feel true. It’s not a true story, but elements are gleaned from true life and reimagined.
I contemplate my lyric writing in this context. The ones I like the best are the ones that are the most true. And yet they are not. In some aspects my lyrics are autobiographical. The notebooks I have written them in, the ink and paper scribble ones, are the closest to the truth. They’re also vaguely chronological. Vague in that the chronology lies the fact that at age 55 I remembered what it was like to be 7. The song I wrote about being 7 was through the mind of the 55 year old, not the 7 year old. Also, I might have exchanged daisy for buttercup because it scans better.
In my lyrics I recall conversations with my mother. They are conversations when I was 20 and she was 55. But in the lyric, I write as the 55 year old, with greater understanding, and I wish fervently that she was still alive so that I could revisit those conversations and show more empathy towards her.
I write about close encounters. I have met people just once and imagined how we could be friends for a long long time. I think about people I have known for decades and thought about how they make me feel. I whisk us up, Dorothy style, and place the two of us in a different scenario and play out how we would both react. The lyric story feels real because it is rooted in a real relationship and feeling.
The lyrics are often a mixture of nostalgia, false memory, and wishful thinking.
I’ve started to wonder if I could extend the concept to a short story or novel. I could lift the characters from the songs and resituate them… give them a life longer than three minutes and forty five seconds. I wonder if they are strong enough to survive that?
My mind wanders over these real imagined people and places as I draw. Can I flesh them out? … am I drawing them from the inside out?… can I know how their bodies move? … how their minds work?