Once upon a time, there was a teenager named Lance. Growing up in the pre-internet era, Lance was very fond of pre-digital media: TV, movies, and especially books and music. He read voraciously, started to figure out writing (though that would mostly come later), chased girls, and always had the radio or a record or cassette playing in the background (yes, eventually CDs, but that took a little while–they were expensive in the early days and he didn’t have a CD player until the summer he was nineteen).
In the fall of 1986, he heard the song, “You Can Call Me Al” on the radio. Without knowing exactly why, it became one of his favourite songs and he bought Graceland on cassette as soon as his finances would allow.
And so it began.
It’s hard to say how many times I listened to Graceland, but I knew all the lyrics to every song long before the cassette got eaten a few years later. I immediately replaced it with a CD version, which I still have and I still play once in a while. Not as often as in my youth, but it’s still in my playlist and I’ve ripped most of it to my I-pod, too. Rhythm of the Saints didn’t speak to me in quite the same way. It was good music, but it wasn’t Graceland.
Just about exactly two years ago, listening to “The Boy In the Bubble”, I got the germ of an idea for the story that would eventually become “Miracles and Wonder”. Six months or so later, I wrote the first draft of “Pilgrimage” after something tickled the back of my brain listening to the title track, “Graceland”.
“Light Pressure” came near the end of last year. “Dancing in the Rain” didn’t take too long after that and I had an end goal in mind by then. There would be a story inspired by every song on the album. Perhaps, if I and some beta readers agreed they were good, they might become an e-book or a podcast.
Life has intervened in 2011 (and in 2010, too). There has been a lot going on and some of it keeps rearing up to get in the way of all of the projects I’m already supposed to be finished. We survive and adapt, and sometimes we apologize profusely in the process. But I still want to do “Graceland”, and I think it will be my personal writing goal for the rest of the year. I’m slowly writing my way through “Hidden Songs”, inspired by “Diamonds On the Soles of Her Shoes”. It’s one of those stories that keeps expanding—I originally thought it would be a 5 and then 6 thousand word story, but it looks like it might get close to 8k by the time it’s done. “Hidden Songs” is the fifth of eleven stories in the Graceland set, and I’ve got at least the kernel of an idea for the rest. None of them are in the least related other than by the theme. I hope to be finished the first draft of the last one by the end of the year, but we’ll see. There’s a lot of other commitments on my plate.
In the meantime, you’ll find a couple of progress indicators up top, just under the office hours. One will let you know which story I’m currently working on and the other a total word count over what I’m projecting for the story in progress. To get that started:
Hidden Songs (Graceland 5/11)
Oh, and they’ll all be Science Fiction stories, for most definitions of Science Fiction.
Now I think I’ll go pop a CD in, but in case you missed it at the time: