The Undercover Soundtrack – Rochelle Jewel Shapiro

for logo‘Everyone is haunted by something’

Once a week I host a writer who uses music as part of their creative environment – perhaps to connect with a character, populate a mysterious place, or hold  a moment still to explore its depths. This week my guest is UCLA tutor, Harold Ribelow Award nominee and professional psychic Rochelle Jewel Shapiro @RJShapiro

Soundtrack by Tanya Davis

Whether or not you believe in ghosts, everyone is haunted by something. When my Viennese mother-in-law slid into senescence, she began to hear strains of her favorite operetta, Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss. It played in her mind, non-stop, at full volume. She’d press her palms over her ears, and still she’d hear it. She would ask her neighbors in her assisted living complex if they were perhaps playing it on the radio. When they said no, she invited them in.

IMG_1187‘Do you hear it?’ she’d ask, hopefully. ‘Do you hear Die Fledermaus?

They just blinked at her.

According to Dr Victor Aziz of St Cadoc’s Hospital in Wales, musical hallucinations tend to happen to women over 73 who are living alone and have hearing impairment. In their mostly silent worlds, the brain stimulates itself to in order to hear sounds stored in the memory.

If this should ever happen to me (ptui, ptui, ptui, as my Russian grandmother would say to ward off bad fortune) the song that would probably come to me is Art by award-winning Canadian folk, pop, rock singer-songwriter, storyteller, and poet, Tanya Davis. It has become my anthem for creativity. I watch the video each morning before I begin writing. When I get stuck, I play it again. Art is a deceptively simple manifesto, a fetching love song to art, to what it means to be an artist and dedicate your life to it. In her quirky, endearing voice, Davis exposes the writer’s vulnerable heart, all the doubts, the worry if it’s worth it, if you’re worth it, whether people will appreciate your work, the whole caboodle that happens no matter how many times you’ve published.

Art, its childlike delivery, the girl painting as it’s sung, brings me back to my childhood bedroom, its floor printed with nursery rhymes, where I sat at the small desk my mother had painted red, drawing and writing stories, the tip of my tongue sticking out of the corner of my mouth in concentration. Every now and then, I’d call out to my mother, ‘How do you write flower? Princess?’ When she holler-spelled the word from the kitchen, I would write most of the letters backwards. No one required me to draw or to write. And I didn’t expect anything further to come out of it. I just had a drive to create and I worked at my illustrated stories every day without thinking of it as work or even as play. It was instinct.

The child’s voice is the truth

As Davis’s lyrics tell us, this innocence, this grace, doesn’t last long. But Art can help you pick up the child’s voice, which is where you have to dig to in order to get to the truth of any character.

KAYLEEGHOSTCOVERIn my newest novel, Kaylee’s Ghost, a domestic drama spanning five generations about life here on earth and after we’ve passed on, is written in four voices. One is the voice of five-year-old Violet, a beautiful and sensitive child who seems to be psychic like her grandmother, Miriam. Miriam wants the chance to mentor Violet to help develop the gift as her own grandmother, her Russian bubbie, had done when she was a child. But Cara, Violet’s mother, a modern businesswoman who knows all too well the pitfalls of growing up with a psychic mother, digs in her heels. As things become more fractious, Miriam’s gift backfires, bringing terrible danger to those she loves and anxiety to the reader who has to worry about whether or not Miriam can make things right in time or whether it is already too late.

A young child speaks with urgency, without guile, amped feeling in every word. The feelings are real, naked, and make absolute sense according to the child’s logic and experience. In order to know an adult character, you have to not just know the events of his childhood, you have to imagine what he was like as a child. As Wordsworth said, ‘The child is the father of the man’.

Art, Art, Art, you haunt me when I don’t write and you worry me when I do. You are the best part of my childhood. Please be with me until the end. Whether or not the world can live without my writing, I can’t live without you.

Rochelle Jewel Shapiro is a phone psychic and an award-winning writer who teaches at UCLA Extension.  Her first novel, Miriam the Medium (Simon & Schuster, 2004) was nominated for the Harold Ribelow Award. Her newest novel, Kaylee’s Ghost (Amazon and Nook, 2012) was an Indie Finalist. Articles have been written about her psychic gift in such places as Redbook, The Jerusalem Post, the Dutch Magazine, TV GID, and the Long Island section of the New York Times. She’s chronicled her own psychic experiences in Newsweek (My Turn), and The New York Times (Lives) which can be read on her website. Find her on Twitter @RJShapiro

Advertisements

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  1. #1 by Nina on March 19, 2014 - 3:03 pm

    Wonderful insights here! There is such a connection between music and creativity – in addition to our musical associations with family, friends and memories of childhood.

    • #2 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on March 20, 2014 - 10:03 am

      Thanks, Nina – we do this every week. Do drop in again!

      • #3 by jewell234 on March 20, 2014 - 10:58 pm

        Hi, Nina, Thank for your comment. There’s a fabulous crossover between all the arts. Every writer, I think, benefits from taking photos, doodling, listening to music, watching a ballet, or prancing about in your own dance form.

    • #4 by jewell234 on March 20, 2014 - 10:53 pm

      Yes, music is wonderful for creativity. It helps drown out the inner editor.

  2. #5 by Bernard Natt on March 19, 2014 - 4:36 pm

    How apt “Art”.
    the power of creativity in different mediums

  3. #7 by jewell234 on March 20, 2014 - 10:56 pm

    Music helps drown out the inner editor, that carping voice that makes you doubt everything you do.

    • #8 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on March 20, 2014 - 11:09 pm

      Rochelle, that is a wonderful point. I hadn’t thought about this before but music gives methe confidence to experiment; a safe space to delve and find the understanding I need to do justice to an idea.

  4. #9 by jewell234 on March 21, 2014 - 5:09 pm

    Yes, the inner editor is fierce. But music also helps a writer with phrasing. (I never listen to atonal music when I wrote. It might be catching.:)

    • #10 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on March 21, 2014 - 8:44 pm

      I find music affects my phrasing, definitely. And the pace of a scene. I once put Fatboy Slim on the headphones to help me through a chase scene – not the easiest scenes to write. But with the help of Fatboy, the mood was just right – strutting, energetic and surprising.
      But I find phrasing to be a musical exercise anyway. I can modify it with what I listen to, but I find that even when I write in silence, a sentence swings from the mind to the page.

  5. #11 by jewell234 on March 21, 2014 - 5:09 pm

    Oops, I mean when I “write.”

  6. #12 by jewell234 on March 24, 2014 - 1:14 pm

    Yes, Roz, music is the poetry of prose. It tells you when to repeat, vary, skip, run, and rest. Best, Rochelle

  1. ‘Everyone is haunted by something’ – The Undercover Soundtrack, Rochelle Jewel Shapiro | Nail Your Novel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: