PaSoWriMo Begins Tomorrow

Tomorrow is November 1, and thousands of crazy novelists across the country will start feverishly composing their 50,000-word novels for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), finishing them by midnight on November 30. Two years ago I accomplished this feat with my semi-autobiographical novel, Avocado Highway. This year, I am instituting a new challenge called PaSoWriMo (Pam’s Song Writing Month), and I intend to write one song lyric a day for 30 days. This is easier than a 50K-word novel, and it is harder. Though my lyrics will be in draft form only, still a lyricist labors more over structure than a novelist does, even in draft mode. My friend, Sal Hamby, is the monitor of my progress, and I will be reporting to him and you daily. I will not have time to blog during PaSoWriMo, so all you will see here is a rough lyric I wrote that day. I have a list of at least 30 song ideas, so if the Heavenly Muse or even the secular one stays with me, I hope to “Win” my own challenge this year. Stay tuned for daily developments:)

Young Adult Pop?

I wrote this based on true information I got from a real life young adult, intending it for the Brewer Boys. Being as old as I am, it’s a challenge for me to write for the under-25 crowd. I am open to revisions and suggestions on genre. Enjoy!

ELECTRONIC LIES

by Pam Bowen

Bet you’re sleeping with your cell phone,
Still waiting for his text.
Well, right now he’s texting Katie,
But after her you’re next.
Can’t you tell that he’s a player
Who treats you like an option?
With me you’re top priority
Cuz you’re so freakin’ awesome.

WAKE UP, GIRL, AND LOOK AT ME.
LET ME HOLD YOU IN MY EYES.
TRUST THE LOVE I’M SENDING YOU
NOT HIS ELECTRONIC LIES.

For each girl on his contact list
He has a secret code:
A smile’s a work in progress,
A wink’s a girl he’s scored.
You don’t deserve that treatment, babe,
On my list there’s only you.
Block his number, come on over,
And we’ll start on something true.

CHORUS

(Bridge, maybe)

CHORUS

© Pamella M. Bowen

Nothing Good Can Happen After 1AM

Okay, country song fans, since it is Friday and many of us are going out to celebrate tonight, I thought I’d post this lonely lyric for your enjoyment. Party on, Garth!

NOTHING GOOD CAN HAPPEN
by Pam Bowen

Verse 1:
Daddy was a drinker.
In fact, that’s why he’s dead.
So as I headed out the door,
My mama always said:

YOU GET YOURSELF HOME EARLY YOUNG MAN.
NOTHING GOOD CAN HAPPEN AFTER ONE A.M.

Verse 2:
Next week’s paycheck’s already spent.
I’ve made proposals I never meant.
I can’t tell the truth from the lies I’ve said.
I woke up alone in a strange girl’s bed.

I SPEND THE WEE HOURS… PROVIN’ THE SAYIN’
NOTHING GOOD CAN HAPPEN AFTER ONE A.M.

Verse 3:
My truck keys and my mind got lost.
I can’t count the lines I’ve crossed.
Some punches I’ve thrown and some I’ve caught
And slept it off in the parking lot.

CHORUS

Bridge:
Cinderella came home early
Fore she turned into a pumpkin.
She coulda taught a lesson
To this here drunken bumpkin.

CHORUS

© 2011 Pamella M. Bowen

Grass Diamonds

I bet you think this blog is about the World Series. Nope—read on.

Growing along the road to the golf course is a long bank of ornamental grass. In the early morning, after the sprinklers have gone and the sun is angling in from the east, the grass is strewn with diamonds. I watch for them every time I take the golf course route, because they give me such a jolt of joy that I laugh out loud. As I push up the hill, they twinkle, glint, sparkle, and shine God’s light into my heart. There is no man-shaped diamond, real or synthetic, to compare.

Our family has never been diamond lovers. My mother had a small solitaire on her engagement ring, and she inherited Grandma’s when she died. We couldn’t afford diamond necklaces or bracelets. Or maybe we could, but we didn’t have a passion for them. Disposable income could go on a travel trailer or a trip to another country.

The madness for diamonds reminds me of Gulliver’s reaction on the Island of the Houyhnhnms when he realized there were thousands of diamonds available for the taking. Swift says that the Yahoos on the island love diamonds because they are shiny, but they become greedy and violent trying to get more than their neighbors have. It seems that the hoarding, keeping, and craving turn a beautiful natural creation into an obsession.

On the way back from the golf course, I admired my neighbor’s beautiful roses which she manages to keep blooming in November as if it were May. I have some roses in my yard too. The other day a visitor said, “Oh, your roses are pretty. You must love cutting them to put in the house.” I think I said something polite. I used to cut my roses, bring them in and try to arrange them in nice vases like I saw in Sunset and Better Homes and Gardens. Now I don’t. I like them better on the bush, giving pleasure to me and my neighbors driving by. To me, a vase of cloudy green water holding drooping, dull cut flowers is one of the saddest sights. Why would you want to put that on your mantelpiece?

So, today’s epiphany is that roses belong on the bush and diamonds belong on the grass, where God put them.

How Is Nashville Like Cayucos?

“What or where is Cayucos?” I hear you ask. It’s a small beach town about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. We have vacationed there numerous times over the past 17 years. We love walking along the wide beach with Morro Rock at our backs, heading toward the picturesque pier and a cup of coffee in a village cafe. On the cliff to the right are costly beach homes, ranging from a quaint red, shingle-sided cottage to expansive glass-fronted modern palaces. I used to come back from these walks depressed. I was on vacation in one of the most beautiful and peaceful spots in California, and I was unhappy.

I have been to Nashville twice, and I have come home depressed from there, too. Now, Nashville proper is nowhere as pretty as Cayucos, but it is surrounded by lush, green countryside. It has friendly inhabitants, plenty to do, and music floating onto the street from every door. Even the airport is a gem of a place. What’s not to like?

The cause of my depression, if you use my therapist’s terminology, is cognitive distortion. Instead of enjoying these places for their many virtues, a voice in my head says, “See those beach houses? You’ll never have one. You’re such a loser. You’re just a teacher living in a tiny, tract house in smoggy Rancho Cucamonga.” In Nashville, the voices say, “So, you want to write songs that will someday be hits? Well, you better give that up. Look around this town: amazing talent on every corner. You don’t stand a chance.”

In religious terms, my depression comes from the sins of envy, greed, despair, and pride (at least), and the voice in my head might be called the devil. The voice wants to cut me off from all the goodness that surrounds me.

God has created beautiful places, loving people, and gifts of skill and talent. When I let evil thoughts sour his creation, I am sinning, and I feel it as depression.

With God’s help, I am working on getting over this thinking, and my depression is much improved. I can quell the voices by giving thanks for every little gift I’m given every minute of every day. This grounds me in God’s love and shames the devil. Praise God for Nashville and Cayucos!

Brewer Boys Escape X-Factor, Integrity Intact

WARNING: This blog is written by a Christian and may refer to concepts you don’t espouse.

This morning I had one of those small epiphanies that the Heavenly Muse sometimes sends: The Brewer Boys, as well as Hayley Stayner, Caylie Miranda Gregorio, Kanan Road Band, and all the other contestants not remaining in the final twelve, are blessed to have escaped The X-Factor with their integrity intact.

I am not saying that Simon Cowell or any other judge or producer is the devil. They are God’s creatures, he loves them, and he dwells in them, as he does in all the contestants. In fact, the talents that all the performers showed are gifts from God.

However, and you can take this literally or metaphorically, the devil is running that show and all so-called “reality competitions” where people are tempted to trade their integrity for money, fame, or power.

Remember (or google) the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. For forty days the devil tempted the hungry, solitary Jesus with power, riches, and fame. Jesus resisted, refusing to behave contrary to his sense of right. Jesus set us an example of how we are to face the temptation of money and fame.

Did you notice that the Brewer Boys still looked like themselves on last night’s live show? They sang songs out of their genre, but they kept their style. Others of our friends also refused to sell their souls to the pop-glitz machine: Kanan Road had the guts to stay country and wear their cowboy hats in a competition that wants urban pop stars with sequins, go-go dancers, and fireworks.

So, I congratulate the Brewer Boys for staying true to their God-given gifts. Like every single one of us, their worth is inherent because God is in them and with them. No amount of human approval or disapproval will change that. This is the Good News.

Complete the Lyric

Can you sing the next line of this lyric? (Boomers may have an advantage:):
“A hand for each hand was planned for the world—”
This one-handed lyricist needs a hand from a composer to make one whole songwriter. Today’s song is a duet I wrote for my friends Brianna and Nick, hoping it might be sung (by them?) at their wedding next year. Take a look at the lyric, and the answer to the quiz will follow.

Duet for Nick and Brianna (working title)

Verse 1 (he):
I’ve got a date tonight
But I don’t have a plan.
A movie and a meal is out
With so little cash to spend.

CHORUS:
HE: WHERE YOU WANNA GO?
WHATCHA WANNA DO?
SHE: I DON’T KNOW. I’LL LET YOU PICK.
HE: NO, YOU. SHE: NO, YOU. HE: NO, YOU.

Verse 2 (she):
I hope he doesn’t take me
To a movie or a bar.
I want his arm around me
As we talk beneath the stars.

CHORUS

Bridge (alternating lines):
What I really want is to open up my soul
And blend it into (his/hers) till I feel whole.
I want (him/her) to know me right down to the ground
And still want to stick around.

Bridge again, together in harmony.

CHORUS VARIATION:
HE: WHERE YOU WANNA GO?
SHE: WHATCHA WANNA DO?
UNISON: I WANNA GO WHERE YOU GO
AS THE OTHER HALF OF YOU.

© 2011 Pamella M. Bowen

Quiz answer: “why don’t my fingers reach?” from Mr. Magoo’s A Christmas Carol, a holiday TV movie I grew up with. Did you, too?