music and prose

I’ve just come back from an amazing couple of days in Chicago. Listening to some great music and seeing some sights before the fall term. And music has always been a part of the process. Last summer when D and I caught a Los Lobos concert near Chicago, I happened to mention to her how I couldn’t have drafted the LIttle Lolo Stories manuscript if it wasn’t for Good Morning Aztlan or the Town and the City–two albums I admire very much. I think the voices and the guitars and something in the feel of those albums helped me to draft. And I wanted to tell them as we stood in line for autographs but all I could manage was, ‘You were awesome.”

And now as I am thinking of revision and have some idea of what the final chapters of Monte Stories might look like I can’t help but think how Jakob Dylan’s Seeing Things and Women and Country have also inspired the drafting and the free writing. Can’t resist plugging lyrics into them now and then. And this summer as I drove through the San Luis Valley I had the music on the stereo as I wandered around and couldn’t help but call up the image and idea of the stories. Both of these albums have such a folk and country feel that also inspired some of the writing.

If you care here is an NPR concert of his newest album:

And I wish I could understand this and explain or analyze this assistance I seem to get with the music in my ears as I free write. Maybe it is the mood or fuel you need to get into those fictive spaces. Maybe it is just beyond explaining. (And I do hope to do a music exercise along with an art exercise along with the normal old family photo exercise this fall term with my creative writing students.)

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john paul jaramillo

John Paul Jaramillo’s debut story collection The House of Order was named a 2013 Int’l Latino Book Award Finalist, and his most recent work Little Mocos is now available from Twelve Winters Press. In 2013 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature listed Jaramillo as one of its Top 10 New Latino Authors to Watch and Read. He is currently a professor of composition and literature at Lincoln Land College-Springfield, Illinois.

One thought on “music and prose”

  1. Art inspires artists, and I think a different form of art (different from the genre you/I/others are creating in) is especially inspiring. I feel as though I want to write after watching good movies or listening to “This American Life” oftentimes. When I used to do a lot of photography, I would often dream music (crazy, but I composed a few tunes and songs like that). Maurice Sendak loves Mozart, lots of musicians inspired by visual artists, etc. Glad you’re getting close to feeling a bit of resolution/finish to Monte, at least for now, and I know that there are many, many more stories you have to tell.

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