Join us as Jeff Adams goes Outside the Margins.
I love musicals. If I had any musical talent, I’d probably try writing one. Instead, I’m just a very happy audience member. Phantom of the Opera, A Chorus Line and Les Miserables have been favorites for years. Rent is probably my all time favorite, and “I’ll Cover You” from that show was performed by two wonderful friends when my husband and I had our commitment ceremony back in 1997. Other shows that I adore: Hair, Kinky Boots, Carrie, Newsies, Ragtime, Chicago and The Last Five Years make me crazy happy. And, most likely, by the time you read this I’ll have seen Into the Woods at the movies.
There’s one particular show that resonates with me as a writer. It’s [title of show] written by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell. It started with a run at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in September 2004. It moved Off-Broadway in 2006 and eventually had a short Broadway run in 2008. The show is about Bowen and Bell’s attempt to “write a musical about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical.” Yes, it’s very meta, which is part of its awesomeness. But the show’s core message speaks to the ups and downs of the creative process and the pay off that can be had for sticking with it.
Let me break down four songs from the show. These are the ones I cue up if my creativity is giving me trouble.
“An Original Musical:” “I’m blank paper, your blank paper, make me say something else / I’ll say whatever you want me to, just put your pen to the paper and write.” This is one of my favorite lines in the entire show. Blank paper is talking to Jeff as he tries to write the musical. First, it’s kinda cool that blank paper might start talking. Second, it’s empowering when you realize you can put down absolutely anything. It’s your story to tell, make it be whatever you want. (You can listen on YouTube. Note the language for these songs can get NSFW.)
“Die Vampire, Die:” Of course once you write (or do anything creative), your internal critical can get loud, plus you can be waylaid from telling your story by people who think you should be doing something else. A favorite lyric here is the description of the air freshener vampire. “The air freshener vampire doesn’t want you to write about bad language, blood, or blow jobs / She wants you to clean it up and clean it out.” The message of the wonderfully funny and relevant song is to banish everything that “stands between you and your creative self expression.” Easier said that done, but this song makes remembering that message fun. (You can listen on YouTube.)
“A Way Back to Then:” Hearing this song for the first time in 2008 resonated with me as I was dissatisfied with my day job, I was stuck trying to figure out how to make Hat Trick work, and I hadn’t yet published anything. The lyric “But the mundane sets in / We play by the rules / And plough through the days” drove home where I was in life, but there was also hope that I’d find my way to “being who you wanted to be in this world.” The following year my first short stories were published. I credit [tos] as one of the things that kept me driving forward to get published. (You can watch and listen to the original [tos] cast on YouTube.)
“Nine People’s Favorite Thing:” This song is something I keep in mind anytime I read reviews, track sales or look at royalty reports. “I’d rather be nine people’s favorite thing than a hundred people’s ninth favorite thing.” You can’t write to please everyone, but as long as there are people who absolutely love what you’re doing then you’re doing it exactly right. Then there’s this: “Those nine people will tell nine people / Then we’ll have eighteen people loving the show / Then eighteen people could grow into / Five-hundred and twenty-five-thousand, six-hundered people / Loving our show.” It’s all about engaging, and thrilling, one person at a time, writing something they love so they recommend to someone else… and so on… (You can listen on YouTube.)
Some days I listen to [title of show] in its entirety while I write just for the heck of it, but sometimes I use one or more of the songs above as a sort of mental medicine to get me back into a good mind set.
Meanwhile, my musical loving self would love for someone to option Hat Trick and turn it into a musical. There’s already Hockey: The Musical (seriously), so it wouldn’t be that much of a leap.
Thanks for stopping by to read. Hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season. I wish you awesome things in 2015!
~ Jeff Adams
About Jeff Adams
Jeff Adams is the author of the Hat Trick series of young adult/new adult stories. A new short story installment, Hat Trick Overtime: Summer Camp, publishes January 11. He’s currently working on the third, and final, novel of the series. He’s also the author of several m/m romance shorts, including the recently re-released Rivals. Jeff and his husband, Will, live in the rural peace of Northern California. Besides writing about hockey in his books, he covers the Detroit Red Wings, and reviews books that feature gay hockey players, for PuckBuddys.com. You can learn more about Jeff’s writing at jeffadamswrites.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @hockeyguynyc.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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