Confessions of a Serial Songwriter: How to Find That Magic Line... or Not


I am stuck on a lyric. I've been working at it for hours and I can't get the line. I know what I must do. There is simply no other way. I have no choice. I must... nap.

I've learned from experience, the best way to recharge my brain is to turn it off -- for a half hour at least. When I wake, my synapses will be fresh. The word or the line that eluded me before, will reveal itself voluntarily. And I will feel like a fool for not having seen it sooner.

So why not? I'm home alone. It's quiet. Let's go. I saunter to my bedroom. The window is open. The breeze is soft. I lay down. The fan above is spinning hypnotically. My cat curls up beside me. My pillow is mushy and cold. Perfect. I'm ready. Bring it on.

What? What's that? F***. I forgot to turn off my phone. It's buzzing. Ignore. Ignore.

You were almost there, Shelly. Keep your eyes closed. If you get up and as much as put the phone in a drawer, you will be moving. And then you will have to decompress and start this process all over.

Why is it my husband can nap on demand?

Okay. The buzzing stopped. It's all good. Relax. Concentrate. What's that? That chime? F***. My iPad is in here too. Ding. What's THAT? Adam's phone? He left it on the bureau when he went out! (Honestly, why does the man even own a cell phone? He never takes it with him.) As if all these nap busters aren't enough... there's that creepy automaton voice coming from my daughter's computer -- reminding her of something. But she's at school... not even here to be reminded!

All these pings and dings and buzzes and chimes -- gently assaulting me from all corners. Every day I feel like there's yet another beep of sorts because of a new improved way to be notified. How many do we really need?

When did the air around me get so crowded? Once upon a time I lived without the constant notifying and reminding. And because of that I actually remembered things. All by myself.

It's hard to get mad at those little noises though. It's not their fault. They have been masterfully formulated. Short. Concise. Friendly. Beta tested for sure to be as non-intrusive as possible. It could be worse. They could be gongs and honks and screams.

I remember when I didn't need to know every detail of what everyone was thinking. And where exactly they were. At all times. And I didn't have to tell everyone either. Stuff could wait. We got by. There was mystery in the not knowing.

Having said this, I am the first one to admit I can not... correction... do not want to live without my iPhone. It's made life much simpler and streamlined in certain ways -- made multitasking so begrudgingly possible. But it seems like it all happened so fast. I wonder if Steve Jobs realized just how drastically he was changing culture.

Of course, I can choose to turn off all household gadgets. But that would entail locating them and you know what that means: implementing the "find everybody's stuff" app. But in order to do that, I have to recall everyone's passwords. I know I wrote them down on a Post-it somewhere. Now where is that Post-it?

And if I choose not to answer my phone, I'd have to deal with that tinge of guilt that would have me imagining "they" can see me opting out. Declining the call. Saving "them" for later. Antisocial behavior for sure. Or -- perhaps I'd miss that one urgent call I know will only come if I turn off my phone.

I am fully awake. The idea of the nap is a fond memory. The window of opportunity has completely passed me by.

I think I'll just go out in the yard and rest in the hammock. Under the sky. Listen to the birds tweet. Real tweets. Not Twitter tweets. I will sleep tonight and embrace fresh creativity in the morning. A full eight hours is equivalent to 16 naps. Wow, I'm going to be very prolific. Not only will I find the missing line, maybe I'll write a whole new song. Here I go. TTYL. Oh no! Here comes the gardener.



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