Two a.m. and I’m still awake writing a song
If I get it all down on paper it’s no longer inside of me
Threatening the life it belongs to

And I feel like I’m naked in front of the crowd
And these words are my diary screaming out loud
And I know that you’ll use them however you want to

“Breathe (2 am)”
Wreck of a Day
Anna Nalick

Day 5: What Song Inspires You

I love music, so narrowing down to one song was almost an impossible feat. If you said what was my favorite song, I’d never be able to do it. I have a top ten, and they fluctuate position depending on the day. In the end, the song that inspires me was really easy because it was the song that really reignited my love for writing and made me realize I had to do more than just think or dream about it.

The first time I heard Breathe (2 am) I was driving in my car, and it was one of two occasions when I had to pull the car over because a song made me cry so hard I couldn’t see to drive. It was a poignant song for the first two verses, but verse three was when it really hit me. Like a freight train.

To understand why it struck a chord, one needs to understand that, for most of my life I’ve been a closet writer. I may have occasionally said that I wanted to be a writer some day, but I never really considered myself to be a legitimate writer. That was a title reserved for those who have the privilege of being published. Or somehow get paid for writing. Which wasn’t me. At least not directly. I may have had some opportunities to write articles or newsletters or letters for my job, but writing wasn’t my primary role. Therefore, I was not actually a writer.

Throughout my life, I have been drawn to positions, volunteer and otherwise, that allowed me to use what I didn’t realize was a genuine skill. Sure, I wanted to write the Great American Novel, but who didn’t? I didn’t realize until I was in grad school that the ability to put thoughts together on a page with some modicum of coherency was not something the average person either a) did well, or b) actually enjoyed doing. When I discovered that classmates admired or were jealous of my ability to throw down 12-15 page papers at a moment’s notice and get high grades, I realized that maybe there was something to my secret passion. Not that I did anything about it, other than recognize that maybe, just maybe, I may have some skills.

I managed to use my skills in perfunctory ways, but secretly, I had notebooks full of characters, scenarios, conversations, and the like that were all waiting for me to put them into the structure of a story. What was hard was that these things would pop into my head and haunt me, bothering and torturing me until I allowed myself to be the conduit to give them life. I did not use this responsibility wisely, however. Usually I would write just enough to stop the madness, but I wouldn’t go any further. It was not until I heard that song that I realized that I was not the only one who had ever felt that way. In those six lines, Anna Nalick reached into my soul and showed me that I wasn’t crazy, either for having an idea threaten to drive me insane, or for being fearful of how someone else would use or interpret that idea once it was beyond the confines of my grey matter.

When this song came out, and was played on such a rapid rotation that I heard it just about every hour, I took it as a sign from the Universe that I was supposed to take this as a hint. It’s been a long and imperfect road. This blog is one way I’ve tried to be more consistent with my writing. I also participated in NaNoWriMo last month, although I didn’t complete the task. Just the fact that I participated means I’m breaking down some resistance, and I definitely put down much more than I would have had I not joined the fun.

During this journey I’ve discovered that I do still have some pretty significant creative blocks, but this process has allowed me to identify them and work to eliminate them. It’s not easy, but I am hopeful. Now that I know what material the wall is made of, it will be somewhat easier to tear it down. If I may indulge in an analogy, if I am trying to break down a wall made of concrete, I’m not going to use the same tools as I would if I was dismantling a wall made of steel.

I have never underestimated the power of music and the arts to open us up to all the possibilities that our lives hold for us. What has served as an inspiration for you? Where can you find hope and strength in your personal journey?