Yesterday, I took a short break from revising the last 30 pages of my second book, The Milk Chocolate Murders, and sifted through the contents of the daily mail. My wife told me it was all “junk” mail – and she would have been mostly correct. No surprise there. But I did see one postcard that piqued my interest.
I was cordially invited to attend the 8th annual Sea Level Singer/Songwriter Festival, this year featuring an outstanding bluegrass folksinger/songwriter/picker, Sarah Jarosz. And by invited, I mean pay for a ticket. But it’s all good. I wasn’t going to buy a banjo anyway, at least not until I received the first advance on royalties for my novel. And I’m still waiting on that check. Buskers everywhere are safe.
Now, I have a hard enough time writing a decent short story, and I average a mere novel and a half every year or so. Can people put words to music, tell a story, and somehow make it all work? That takes talent. Let’s just say I have not yet dusted off space on the bookshelf for the Grammy next year.
People do try, however. And in our little part of the world we have a festival for it. It’s kind of like a writer’s conference, but with more performances and less classes. Still, there are many similarities between writing books and writing songs. Let’s compare and contrast, shall we?
Writing novels compared to writing songs
Novels require main characters. Songs are usually about somebody, too.
Novels have structure (3-act, monomyth, etc.) Songs have form (AABA, ABA, etc.)
Novels have an arc (character must change over time.) Songs have an arc, too (subject changes over time, with chorus/refrain reinforcing the overall theme.)
Both writing a novel and writing a song can cause delusions of the following: grandeur, overnight success, fame, and fortune.
Both novelists and songwriters can be found waiting tables for $2.17 per hour plus tips at some of the finest restaurants around. Some even get to work at the drive-thru window!
Finally, both novelists and songwriters are hopeful, creative, positive souls who live on and keep writing after countless rejections.
The world needs more of them!
So if you are in Hampton Roads on or about April 2 – 4, check out the Sea Level Singer/Songwriter Festival, sponsored by the Tidewater Arts Outreach in Norfolk, Virginia.
You may just hear something worth writing about!