I taught myself to play the guitar in my mid teens with songs like House of the Rising Sun, Heart of Gold, Nights in White Satin, Stairway to Heaven, and such. My friends and I spent many a night around camp fires, strumming and singing while reading from crumpled up hand written song lyrics. Now almost 30 years later, I exchanged the guitar for the keyboard and I write.
I just finished a novel called Six String. It tells the story of a sixteen year old girl who runs away from an abusive home, with only her broken six string guitar on her back. The story grabbed me right from the start. The main character’s pain was so powerful and palpable, I found myself weeping numerous times while writing it.
There is one quote by Ernest Hemingway I always come back to. It goes something like this: “There is nothing to writing. All you have to do is sit in front of a type writer and bleed.”
I realized eventually that this quote can be translated into any art form. During my teenage years, I had tons of guitar idols, like Ritchie Blackmore, Angus Young, The Scorpions’ Michael Schenker and many others. I lost myself in Carlos Santana’s guitar solos as much as in Iron Maiden’s riffs. What all of them had in common for me was that I felt something when I listened. There was an emotion that was transferred from the player through the guitar to me, the listener.
I strive to do the same in my books. Learning the craft is hard work but once that’s done, I believe there’s another step to take to go beyond the average artist. In this sense, “there is nothing to playing the guitar. All you have to do is let it weep.”