Tag Archive | Tori Amos

Moonchild Manuscript Soundtrack a.k.a. Table of Contents

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 8.47.17 PMMusic permeates just about everything I write, and I often think of my writing in terms of music. So naturally, a full-length book manuscript is like a full-length album. A concept album, perhaps.

This is especially true for MOONCHILD, the memoir manuscript I’m revising (as in completely re-envisioning, you can read about this writerly overhaul and the revision process here and here). There is so much music in the text of the book. Always music. And discussions about the meanings of the songs that are incorporated into the story, an exploration of where music and life and self intersect.

Pretty early on, I knew I wanted to start each chapter out with a lyric. In fact, I wrote the first words (longhand, in a notebook) of this manuscript in 2003, and I think even then, I knew each chapter would somehow feature a lyric, a song. It’s not the first time I thought that way about a long-form piece of writing.

So, yes, each chapter starts off with a lyric from a song. I did up a little CD label thing (which proves why I’m a writer and NOT a graphic designer) that lists the songs that are quoted at the beginning of each chapter. Here it is:

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Writing, Music and the Places Where they Overlap

West_Seattle_Easy_Street_02So many things have me revisiting my musical past as of late. It’s really kind of odd how so many things converged at once. Sometimes I feel like, for whatever reason, I just really let music slip away for awhile, and over the last month, a switch has flipped and all of a sudden, I’m back.

I think I’m a little too embarrassed to admit one of the things that started all this. I’ll just say this: it was a TV show. And it wasn’t that I loved the music on the show so much as one of the characters reminded me of how I used to feel about music, and that got me listening to CDs again, and trying to rebuild my old music collection by buying a bunch of used CDs, and looking into concerts and shows again. Okay, I’ll give a hint, since it sort of relates to the remainder of the post, this TV show I don’t quite want to name is named after a song.

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She’s a Girl Rising From a Shell: A Memoir Chapter

So today, I’m giving you a full chapter from my memoir Moonchild. Now, this is actually up on this site but almost no one has found it, so I’m just pulling it out of hiding. Link is at the bottom of the post.

Another interesting tidbit: Seven years ago, I did a full-length spoken word performance show thingy-dingy and this was the first piece I read at the show. The other day, while on a rampage looking for the earliest version of my manuscript, I came across the recordings from that show. So I am toying with the idea of putting the audio up with the chapter. I don’t know. It has people’s real names. And whenever I hear my recorded voice, I sound like a twelve-year-old with a cold. But I’ll let you decide, should I include audio or no?

All the chapter titles from this book are lyrics from songs. This one comes from the song “Ribbons Undone” by Tori Amos, on her 2005 CD, The Beekeeper. I wrote this piece during that spring, with that album infusing into every corner of my life. At the time, I was about to leave Camp Orkila, where I had lived and worked for more than two years, and my brother was about to graduate college and my sister was about to graduate high school. The theme of graduation kept playing through my mind and it just felt like I was coming to the end of a journey that had started when I first left for college, which is what this chapter is about.

It was one of those things where you look back at the beginning of something and ask yourself, if you had ANY clue where it all would lead, would you do it over again? I was looking back at a time of innocence, of blissfully not knowing what that journey would entail, so this song, where Tori looks at her young daughter starting out on life journeys, just completely resonated with me at the time I was writing and the time I was writing about. It’s a really sweet song and if I’m feeling especially sentimental, it will totally make me cry. I’m a sap like that.

Another cool tidbit: About a year after I wrote the piece, I woke up one morning, way too early, to the sound of my ringing phone. Who the f was calling me at 6 in the morning? It was Tori Amos’ dad, calling from Maryland (where this story mostly takes place) to give me permission to use the lyrics. He also told me I should change the name of my book (which I did, back then it was called Learning to Swim, which is now a tattoo rather than a book title). Anyway, I always thought that was kinda cool.

BUT ENOUGH OF THIS BLATHERING. Here it is:

She’s A Girl Rising From a Shell

I decided to go with the audio addition, so here it is:

Now I’m going to go back to editing this same book manuscript, and listening to Rihanna. For real yo. Cannot even believe I’m fessing up to that but yeah, I kinda can’t get enough of a certain song. Have a good weekend everyone!

~Emilia J

"All in the Cold Midwinter and at the Midnight Hour"

IMGP7064eFIRST_CABIN_ORKILA_OOr, what I did over my winter vacation.

I’ve actually been dying to blog about this but wanted to get some other things out of the way first. Like revamping it and updating it, for instance.

A few years ago, I wrote this post about my favorite winter memory, the second winter I spent living in the dispensary, a perfect cabin at Camp Orkila and how blissful that winter was, reveling in my connectedness to the natural world. I sometimes feel there aren’t words for how satisfying in a soul way living there was to me. And it wasn’t just the proximity to the ocean, the way I heard the owls and the creaking of cedar trees at night, or the thick woods I could walk through or even the months I lived there while having very little work, or all the great books I read, or the great company I had in my friend Tracy, or the walks by the coast.

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Killing Time Waiting for my Final

bioexamAnd my brain is full, I don’t think there is any point in trying to stuff in any more details about biology. Anyway we had a practice final and I got 78 out of 80, so I’m probably fine, I hope.

So, today is the last day of my first term. Overall, it’s been really good. Really loving the biology class, and my lab group started studying together. That’s been great! We’re all contributing, splitting up tasks like writing up vocabulary, going through practice tests, teaching each other things the others don’t get so well. I know it has been a huge benefit on both ends. It’s great to have people to clarify things you don’t quite get, and it’s also very helpful to teach something to someone else. I feel like my knowledge of how to solve genetics problems really solidified when I wrote it out to show another girl in my group. And studying with these guys is fun! Our ages range from 22 to 39 and a lot of times we take our study sessions to the bar, or go grab a beer before class or after a test. It’s been really fun, and it’s kinda cool to have people to talk with about this stuff b/c most people I know aren’t really into biology.

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My First National Blind Convention and a Change in Plans

Detroit HotelIt’s after midnight and I can’t sleep so I’m up, pouring over some reading material, distracting myself and thinking things over, and I thought it might be a good time to (finally) post.

At the beginning of this month, I went to a convention for the National Federation of the Blind. It was almost an accident – I hadn’t really given much thought to attending. Years ago, I went to a state meeting with a local friend, and had a kind of hard time at the meeting and hadn’t gone back. This year, I applied to their scholarship program (and every other scholarship program I could think of or find) before I left for India. Then, about a month before the national convention, I got a call from the president of my state affiliate. He told me I hadn’t gotten a scholarship, but offered for me to go to the convention. They were doing this College Leadership Program, for a handful of students who didn’t get a scholarship, trying to get more young people involved in the organization, and so they would cover everything – airfare, hotel, registration, even a food stipend. Did I want to go?

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Day Two in Calcutta

Calcutta, IndiaWe arrived here in Calcutta on Saturday morning, but not without some adventure or misadventure. We took an overnight train from Bodhgaya, and a group member had her purse stolen as she was sleeping. It’s freaky b/c she was sleeping on her purse, and someone reached in the window (on a moving train!) pushed her head out of the way and grabbed it. She was almost able to get it in time, but couldn’t. She had a lot of personal items in there, including a diary. So that was a bit of a sobering experience. She and I were both on the bottom seats of the sleeper car on the train and I barely slept all night because there were so many people congregating and staring at us and making noise. I kept drifting off to wake up to find people sitting on the edges of our seats. At one point I woke up to see someone walk down our aisle, looking official and with a paper in hand, so I thought it was a train worker, but now I think it was someone scoping out the scene as far as what they could steal.

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