Friday, January 26, 2018

Fresh Inspiration & Holding Onto That Big Magic

Hey Nerds! I just finished reading my third book of the year, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and it has inspired me to go back to one of my old manuscripts. 100 Cups of Coffee is done....I I'm inspired to go back to a book I began in late 2014 called Musical Awakening.

I stopped working on it in 2015 when 100 Cups of Coffee came to me and because I was having a hard time ending it Musical Awakening. This past week I came back to it and guess what? I don't hate it! LOL And like Elizabeth Gilbert says in Big Magic, "Done is better than good." So that's what I'm trying to do, get it done!

Lots of people start things in this world and rarely anyone finishes anything. So in that vain, I'm going to finish Musical Awakening and see what I can do with either of my two books. Here is what it is about....

June is a concert blogger beginning to build her career, sense of self and a global music community. Her musical awakening happens upon hearing an up and coming British artist Richmond for the first time. A will they or won't they journey through the years where career and self development matter most. Told through blog posts, social media and music, Musical Awakening reminds us that taking chances is what life is all about.

P.S. I realize this is a LOT to read on a blog! But I'd love to hear your thoughts!! Thank you as always nerds!
CHAPTER 1 - I Turn Around

{Will you remember me if we meet again?  A long time from now, if I catch up with you somehow.  The more time passes by, I turn around, less often I've found, but I'll catch up with you somehow.} - Bad Veins
My heart stops when I hear his music for the first time. Like, literally stops.
The beating only stops for a moment, but when it begins again, it beats in time with his song. His voice travels into the ear not pressed to the phone trying to order room service. I freeze, letting the phone click back into its cradle. I fall back onto the hotel bed with my arms open wide as if I were going to make a snow angel in the sheets. There is nothing I can do but close my eyes and get lost in the world of the song for that moment in time. I just listen.

"I knew you would love this one," my mum says.
"Shhhhhhhhhh," I say without opening my eyes. My arms still lay outstretched in a musical coma. I literally can't right now. I need to stay in this moment. Music and feelings like this don't come around often and these are the moments I adore. That I live for.
The song ends. I open my eyes and look at my mum, who has probably been staring at me the entire time. Not like I would have noticed...musical coma and all. I nod that she may continue. She has a bit of a perturbed look on her face, but it slowly fades away when she begins speaking about his music.
"While out scouting bands for the Festival, I heard about Richmond and his band. I can’t wait to finally see what his live show is like tonight. He and his band mates are from very same small town back in England as us. They have found a devoted following here in the States so they tour here often."
Our trip to LA is due to my Mum's career. She is one of the creators of the  Austin Music Festival, which features up and coming artists. I am lucky enough to have recently become a photographer for the Festival and she let me tag along on this trip as a trial run. This summer's Festival will be my first official one as a staff photographer. No pressure!

I stayed on the bed and crawled my fingers toward my iPhone. I immediately took to Twitter to announce my new found musical obsession.
"One note & I am hooked! I cannot wait to see @RichmondAdamsUK LIVE for the 1st time tonight in LA! #SwoonMusic"
I hit send, dropped my phone to the bed again, and closed my eyes as I absorbed more of Richmond's songs as they filled up the hotel room. I listened to the entire album while Mum worked. I stayed in my snow-angel position, praying that the live show would be just as good. I tried not to think about the let down if it wasn’t.
Suddenly, Twitter isn’t enough. I had an intense need to share this album with everyone! I opened up my laptop and went to my blog.
Hey Music Nerds...I love sharing new music with you. It's my civic duty to deliver to you the best music out there and do I have a new artist for you! Stop what you are doing right this instant and click THIS link. Go ahead I'll wait.
Ok back? You listened?! I know, amazing right?! The Festival Director, JUST handed me this album to listen to. It only took one note, one song and I was done. That was all I needed. I could never hear another album in my entire life and I would die happy.
Has this ever happened to me before you ask? Are you being a tad dramatic June? NO and probably. I sit here in my LA hotel room, having just listened to an album I never knew I was waiting my entire life to hear. Lucky for me I get to continue this music high by attending Richmond's live show tonight here in LA. Unknowingly, The Festival Director brought me here specifically to see him.
Stay tuned for that tomorrow. Until then head over to wherever you buy your music and support this amazing musician. Fingers crossed his live show is as good as this album. No pressure Richmond!
Let me know what you think about Richmond in the comments below. I need to know I am not alone in this sudden musical adoration!

I glanced at the clock. It was time to get ready for the show, so I stretched and went to the closest to piece together an outfit. My concert wear never really differs much. I laid my choice on my bed: dark jeans, boots, and a Union Jack tank--I’ve gotta show some hometown love, right? I hit the shower and the notes of Richmond’s songs are still running through my head, and I found myself humming along while I dried my hair.
I was just applying the finishing touch to my makeup—matte red lipstick—when the hotel phone rang. Our car was waiting for us in front of the lobby. Mum, as the Director of the Austin Music Festival, always gets the VIP treatment to shows.
On the ride over to the venue, I switched between prepping my gear and admiring the LA scenery flying by my very tinted window. Neither of these things did anything to calm my rising nerves. What’s the deal? I never get nervous at these things.
Ok, June. Pep talk time. You got this. Dad wouldn’t have sent you out here if you weren’t good enough. He believes in you; time to believe in yourself. Thanks, self.
Although, I did wish I was old enough to drink so I could take the edge off a bit. Only one more year to suffer through.
Just as my breathing started to level out and my heart began beating at a normal rate, the car pulled up at a small dark venue on the world famous Sunset Strip. The venue is on a dark corner of the strip, where the brightest thing on the street is the sign announcing the acts for the night. Richmond’s name is lit up for the world to see. The LA haze rolls back in with the setting sun and I couldn’t help but capture in camera the perfection that is LA, palm tree silhouettes and magic hour light. The palms lined the street as far down as I could see, making for a picture perfect LA moment right out of the movies. We were early to the show and with the setting sun making this perfect light, I put my camera back in the bag and grabbed my trusty phone and Mum for a selfie in front of the sign. I noticed there is no queue yet for the show.  What is with LA people? I am always the first to line up for a show. I can’t help but be at least an hour early, depending on my love of the band, and adding an hour as my devotion level grows.  Thank God for mobile hotspots. I can get stuff done on my tiny Macbook Air  and still be able to get the spot I must have at every show: on the rail.
“June, you and that phone. It never leaves your hand,” Mum said shaking her head.  “Though I can’t scold you for always being on it when mine is like a second appendage. You learned from the best I guess. Air Drop me that shot.”
“The life of a blogger. My photography, music, notes all in one place,” I said as I sent the image to her phone. Not without editing first of course. Gotta keep up that Insta image.
“When you are right you are right,” she conceded. “I do use my phone for an awful lot now a days as well. It’s a good and bad thing. You are always at someone’s beck and call, you can never really unplug. Just make sure you take some time to see the world around you, too, my June.”
I know she means well, concerts were just where I find the time to do that.
But not without first posting our image to Instagram. I did all of that while walking behind Mum, who was promptly let into the venue. I walked through the door and looked up from my phone and saw the stage set for the upcoming show, a bar, and the merch table in the far back of the room. Intimate, but not completely claustrophobic.  
Mum and I headed over to the bar to get get some non-alcoholic drinks-- like I said, I was just under age, and we were both technically working. Sometimes it was hard to believe that doing what I love is work. Someone pinch me! We got our drinks and headed to our usual place, front and center at the stage. I looked around and found that we were still the only people, other than the venue employees and roadies, who are in the venue. The stage was set up with the band’s instruments and I tried to take a peek at the set list, but  a roadie grabbed it up and gave a sly smile.
Mum got a call that she had to take, so I went to check out the merch table. I left my camera bag with Mum while she talked, but I took my phone and drink. I walked and checked Twitter at the same time--yes I can totally do that one handed! Social media pro here.  
The walk from the stage to the merch table wasn’t far. I continued to ignore my surroundings and walk while I answered as many tweets as possible. The venue was tiny, dirty, and dark, but in a charming, you have to be “cool” to know about it kind of way. I walked up to the table and there were a few guys hanging around it, all of them looking at their cellphones in one hand and holding pints in the other. Only one of them looked up and smiled as I walk over.  They all looked like they could be part of the band. They were all fastidiously dressed from their button down shirts, funky socks, and shiny shoes. “June?” The voice came from the only one of the guys who looked up at me as I approached. I was certain I didn’t know him, though I’d pretend that I do, as not to be rude. Just until I figured it out. He looked completely unfamiliar, although I was caught by his brown hair that was shorter on the sides and with long bangs sweeping across his face that fell into his bright blue eyes. He was the same height as me, but I was wearing five inch boots, so he really wasn’t short; I was just having a tall day. Right away I could tell he wasn’t an LA native. He had creamy skin, not tan like mine and everyone else’s I had come across since I landed in this city. He held himself with a confidence, not arrogance, and his eyes smiled at me and surprisingly he went right in for a hug.
I pushed gently out of the hug and answered with a semi confident “Hello?”
“Hello, I’m Richmond,” he said in a brilliantly British accent, lifting his cup of tea for a clink of cheers with my glass.  
You could say Richmond had me at "Hello." ClichΓ©, I know, but he oozed confidence, and he was still completely comfortable to be near, which is something I had discovered, through the years of being around musicians, is usually hard to find. Most are too self involved to care about even remembering your name.
Don’t get nervous, don’t get nervous, I told myself over and over again before I spoke and returned his cheers.  
“Richmond!  Hi!” I said a bit too excitedly, as I splashed a bit of my drink on the two of us and then began to blush. Luckily, he just smiled back beautifully.  
Seriously? He had perfectly white teeth, too?
“I recognized you from your tweet. Thank you for the compliment. I’m happy you liked my #SwoonMusic,” he said with a wink.  
I tried to contain my growing blush as he continued with, “You are in here early. How did you manage that?”
“Oh,” I stammered. “My mum is actually here as a the Director of The Austin Music Festival. Her job is to travel the country looking for acts to feature at the festival this summer. I am lucky enough to be a photographer for the festival and she let me tag along on this trip.”
“You don’t say?”
If he was nervous about her presence, he surely did not sound so.
“Have you heard of our festival before?”
“Heard of it? It’s only the largest in the world. I am humbled your Mum took the time to come out and see little old me.”
“Well Mum has been a big fan of yours for a while now. She only just recently allowed me a chance to become a fan.”
“A fan? And you didn’t even recognize me June, I’m hurt.” I try my hardest not to blush and play it off by throwing a tease right back at him.
“Do you stalk out who tweets you often?” I asked.
It was his turn to blush. “I like to know what kind of people are attracted to my music.” My own blush rose further. “You're a photographer; that is brilliant. Can I assume you are working tonight?” he asks.
“I am, so no pressure,” I joked.
“Wow,” he laughed.  I couldn’t tell if he was surprised or taken aback by my continued boldness. “Well now that you say that, I better step up my game tonight! I certainly look forward to seeing the images you produce. I might have to Insta stalk you now. Can I just say that your inventive hashtag struck my fancy?”  
“Thank you,” I said sincerely. “My mum shared your music with me for the first time this afternoon and it hit me right in the feels--I even shushed her! I cannot wait to see you perform it live.”
“You shushed your own Mum. I guess I should say I’m flattered? Does that happen often?”
“Almost never,” I said with a sly smile.
“Well, I wouldn’t want to disappoint a potential fan.”
“I’m not sure that is possible; your music's too good for that.” That slips out without me even having to think about it. Probably because it is true.
He looks a bit taken aback by my response. Is he surprised? Flattered?
“Well, thank you, June. Now I’m nervous.”
“Sorry not sorry?” I joke.
He laughs. “Right.”  
“Good luck!” I say. I notice that the butterflies I had upon walking up have flown away. Was that just a fluke?
But before he leaves he makes sure those butterflies came back at full force. “I hope to chat a bit with you more afterwards, June. I want to see if I was able to impress you.” He  winks again.  
I try to get my bearings together before I head back over to Mum as she was just putting away her phone.
“Sorry about that June. Work always calls, especially with the festival creeping up on us. I hope you weren’t too bored,” Mum apologizes.
“I just met Richmond,” I say, bragging a bit as a coy smile spreading across my face. I manage to hold my own in our brief conversation, but the combination of his amazing music, mixed with his British charm, took all the practice I’d accumulated over the years talking to musicians being put into action. I guess it worked since I seemed to have made an impression if he wants to talk again.
“What? I missed that? I’m so sorry. So how was he?” Mum asks.
“How do you think a brilliant British musician would be? He was perfect. Sweet, humble, funny. He said he wanted to chat more after the show. I guess he has to since you need to speak with him about the festival. I did mention that we were here representing them. Hope that didn’t make him nervous. Didn’t seem to.”
“Well, usually I don’t like the musicians to know that I am here. I don’t want them catering to me; I just want them to be themselves,” she replies. “But his music is already magical, so I’m sure the performance will be, too.”
We situate ourselves in the perfect spots for the show just as the doors to the venue  open and fans began pouring in. The venue feels packed with a hundred people squeezed in. Luckily, LA concert goers have courtesy when it comes to personal space. After a few moments, the lights dim and as I recognized Richmond’s opening notes, I almost forget that I am there to do a job. I grab one of my cameras and throw the bag around my shoulder.
Richmond’s band is small--a drummer, a bassist, and a guitarist, and him on the piano. It is Richmond and his piano that steals my heart and makes me feel things only music can. His entrance onto the stage brings the room to a stand still. The first notes send a chill throughout the room; his voice, however, warms it back up again. He closes his eyes throughout the entire song, handing his heart out to the crowd and hoping they’ll keep a piece of it for themselves.
I do.
I can hardly bear to bring my camera up because I don’t want my view of his performance obscured. When I do, I feel like the clicking of the shutter can be heard by the entire room.
Richmond holds the last note of the song for two breaths longer than I thought possible and when his hands move off of the ivory keys, the crowd pauses for a silent moment, then erupts. He takes a deep breath, eyes still closed, and gives his amazing smile. Finally, he stands, bows and thanks the crowd for coming and welcomes them to the show.
Richmond has no trouble at all bringing the energy up inside the venue. He easily gets the entire room to sing along at the top of their lungs. Taking his microphone and wrapping the cord around his arm, he steps as close to the crowd as the stage allows. I can’t help but feel and see their adoration adorn the crowd’s faces. Hands clench to their chests. Arms up in the air. Eyes close. Everyone has a different way to experience Richmond’s heart wrenching music.
Richmond leaves his heart out on the stage and grabs the audience's for his own. I try to take in as much of the show as I can as I shoot, knowing I have to get my father good shots. But the camera is such a distraction, all I want to do is join in on the fun, but work calls. I’ve never felt such of a pull to just be in the moment at a show. For the first time ever I wish I wasn’t a photographer.
After a few more songs, I think I have enough shots and I can enjoy the show for just myself. I take Richmond’s encore to dance along with the rest of his fans. When the show is over, Mum and I look at each other. We smile and as I put my hand on her shoulder, we look at each other and without speaking, know that Richmond is going to be huge, without ever having to say it. He takes his final bows, walks off the stage and directly to the merch table. He spends the next hour greeting every fan, taking pictures and signing whatever they have. Mum and I hang around the bar, having another non alcoholic drink while we wait for the crowds to disperse so she can speak with Richmond about the festival. I stand back and observe how Richmond takes time with every one of his fans that come over to chat. The line is long, but a smile never leaves his face and he has hugs and autographs for everyone. I can hear them as they are leaving, saying how charming he is. Some are completely dazzled that he remembered their names from previous performances. Over an hour later, I can finally introduce Richmond to my mum. I didn’t mind the wait. It gave me time to sift through my photographs and see what I have and delete the ones I don’t like, saving me time in the editing process.
The last fan walks by me and I look up from my camera to see Richmond walking towards us. I elbow Mum to put her phone away and she slides it into her purse. She stands up to greet Richmond with a firm and professional handshake, which Richmond pulls into a cheek kiss.
“Claire, so nice to meet you. Thank you so much for coming all the way out here for the show.”
I am impressed that Richmond knows who my mum is even though I didn’t mention her name in our first conversation. How does he do it?
“It is my pleasure, Richmond. I’ve been a fan for awhile now. I can’t say enough good things about your music. I even converted June here this very afternoon.”
“So I heard. What did you think June? Did I impress you?”
He continues to be completely humble and charming at the same time. How is he not absolutely exhausted right now? If he is, he never shows it.  
“So much so that I found it hard to do my job. Thanks for that. I might get fired now because of you,” I joke.
“Ha! Well, let’s hope that doesn’t happen,” he counters. “I might be indebted to you.”
“Richmond, can I buy you a drink?” Mum interrupts our flirting. “We can talk about featuring you at the festival this year, if you are interested.”
I leave the two of them alone to talk and I go check out the merch table again, purchasing Richmond’s album officially. I always love buying directly from the band. It serves as a memento of a night well spent and makes the album itself more special. When it looks like they are through with official talk, I walk back to join them.
“Richmond,” I say,  “as a first time viewer of your show, the emotion you reveal on stage makes your music so much more personal. You definitely had a hold on the entire audience.” I make a mental note to add that line to my upcoming blog post.
“Thank you. That means a lot to me Claire. But what about you, June?” As that swoon-inducing British accent dazzling smile that forms on his lips reaches his eyes, I feel a bit faint.  
“I’ll be gushing about you over on my blog in the morning, and Instagram and every other social media account that I have. You can see if the pictures I took are to your liking,” I say, trying to unsuccessfully hide the blush forming on my face again. This is becoming all too common. I always thought flirting was harder, though with Richmond it seems to flow so naturally. Thank you, Mum, for granting me with one of the amazingly British genes: charm.
“I am sure Richmond is very tired June,” Mum interrupts. “We should be going. We have an early morning flight to catch back to Austin as well.”  
Why does she have to be all business!?
“I will see you both at the festival soon then. I hope, June, that you have a chance to photograph us again during the festival. I would love to have a chance to see you again,” Richmond says.
“I think I can to make time,” I say. “I’ll see you then. It was such a pleasure to meet you Richmond. Thank you for the wonderful evening.”
“Do you want me to sign your album before you go?” he inquires.
“Oh, yes, of course!” I say, feeling embarrassed that he had to offer, but grateful he did.
He signs it:
June, see you again VERY soon! #swoon x Richmond
Mum reaches out to shake Richmond’s hand, keeping it professional. He leans in and kisses her on the check. He turns to me, pulling me into a hug, tighter than the first.

When I arrive back at the hotel, I happily fall into my bed and it's fluffy duvet envelope me like the cloud nine I am floating on. My head hits the pillows, and reluctantly I let my dreams take me, hopefully to where Richmond and his music awaits.
If you finished all of that...thank you!!!! It was a lot I know, but I'm actually super happy with it and am excited to share it with you. Let me know what you thought in the comments!

Lastly and most importantly, don't let that big magic and inspiration slip away! Good luck in all of your endeavors and keep creating!! xx


Tiffany said...

This was great Megan! I could completely hear your voice through your writing! So neat to read something from someone you’ve known, and see little things you know about them inserted into the character. Can’t wait for the whole book!

Joie Fatale said...

Yes!!! I can’t wait to finish reading this!

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