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No ideas without music

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that sometimes I feel a little lost in these times we live in.

I feel there is a fundamental awe in the world that gets chipped away at as technological advancements drive us closer to Artificial Intelligence. Human beings reduced to consumers.

Something that helps me enormously in these times is music. Music makes the ordinary, extraordinary.

We’ve all had that sense of being moved deeply while listening to music. We watch scenes in movies and the soundtrack is what lifts us up, elevates the scene to a higher realm and in doing so, elevates us.

I can only speak for myself as a writer, and quite simply there wouldn’t be books without music. Music is the soul of the book.

Music helps me dig deep, find words in a part of me I barely even know about.

Sometimes I listen to a song that I have found resonates with what I’m trying to write and I listen to it again and again and literally get transported into the character and the world.

Friedrich Nietzsche put it so beautifully when he said:

‘The musical art often speaks in sounds more penetrating than the words of poetry, and takes hold of the most hidden crevices of the heart… Song elevates our being and leads us to the good and the true.’

The River and the Ravages was written whilst listening to a number of songs which I’d like to share with you. They take me into the world of Traegos and I hope they take you there as well. You can find the entire playlist for The River and the Ravages on my youtube channel. I’d love to know if you love any of these songs. I’d love to hear what you think and what you’re listening to. Get in touch at hello@jmlawler.com

By chapter name – artist / song:

The Quiet Goodbye – Max Richter / On the Nature of Daylight

The Hive – Billie Eilish feat. Khalid / Lovely

Perfect Creations – Lana Del Ray / Born to Die

The Hunt – Birdy / Wings

Walking Through an Open Door  – Lamb / Gorecki

Anchor – Laura Marling / Rambling Man

Somewhere In-Between – Aurora / Running With the Wolves

Beyond the Boundaries – Olafur Arnalds / Only the Winds

The Departed – Sia / Breathe Me

All the best

Jann x

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The Most Important Thing I’ve Learned as a Writer

In July 2017 I achieved something I never thought I would do. I published a book. I’m 46. For me, it wasn’t a lifelong goal. I haven’t harboured aspirations to be an author since I was 12 years old. It literally happened because I believed I had some good ideas for a story, could write pretty well, and probably most importantly, live my life with a pretty solid armour of perseverance.

Writing a book, like all journeys, involves the stuff you know is going to happen, and the stuff you either know about but are not prepared for, or don’t know about at all. You know it’s going to involve time on your own, putting words to paper, typing it up, revising, editing, making it sound amazing.

What was hard to contemplate from the outset was the magnitude of solitude involved. And how solitude changes you.

When I started writing in 2015, solitude was not something that featured significantly in my life. I live in an urban environment and have access to technology and social media. Like everyone else, I can choose to be connected 24/7, every minute, every second, of every day if I want. This connectedness, so we are lead to believe, is the ultimate ‘cure’ for the loneliness often associated with solitude.

Anyone who has ever tried to spend significant periods alone knows how hard it is. It was something I had to work at. I was fidgety, restless, craved distraction. I was stuck with my own mind and it was an incredibly uncomfortable experience. Thoughts came into my head and possessed me. Thoughts like who-the-hell-do-you-think-you-are-writing-a-book and not-so-gentle reminders that I was nowhere near as good as all the authors I love and admire. I came to the rather sobering reality that being a writer means sitting with your own mind for long periods of time. It was not something I was warned about, but you REALLY get to know yourself when writing a book.

The ability to be alone is an essential condition to write a book. That’s pretty obvious, no surprises there. The same could be said of any undertaking that requires concentration and focus from crocheting a blanket, to tinkering on an old car, or painting a picture, or reading a book. What I’ve come to learn is that the ability to be alone is also an essential condition to love. That’s right, people, love. It’s only through time on your own you truly discover who you are, and it’s only once you truly know who you are that you can give love unconditionally to another. When you build solitude and stillness into your life, you notice things that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. All that matters is the activity you’re immersed in and giving your whole being to it. It really doesn’t matter what it is, all that matters is giving it your full attention. And such is the requirement of love.

Paradoxically, all this busyness, all this connectedness which is meant to make us feel less alone is often having the reverse effect. We’re feeling more alone than ever because we’re often not learning who we are and how best to tend to our needs. We’re running away from alone time, repudiating it. We’re hoping other people will just ‘get’ us when we often don’t even know ourselves.

All our gadgets and technology purporting connectedness are here to stay and they certainly have their place. It’s now about how we find a balance between alone time and worldly stimulation, how we quell our fears of aloneness and embrace what’s on offer from a bit of solitude: time to get to know yourself. It’s a practice. It’s not the solution to everything, but it’s likely to yield some beautiful surprises.

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  • Beautiful Adelaide Fringe opening truly was like walking through a Dreamtime
  • Day at Port Noarlunga beach. God damn it was lovely. Great ending to school hols.
  • Not tiring at all of black buildings in this city. #whatilove
  • Inari is an absolute delight. I thought it was going to be a quick visit but 4kms later we were still climbing Mt Inari which (I believe) is the head shrine of the God of rice, these beautiful Torii gates to walk through all the way to the top. 🇯🇵
  • Just feeling lucky. And grateful. I’m doing something incredibly special with two amazing human beings and feel utterly blessed.
  • Music hour. 🎧 So lovely to arrive in Kyoto, settle in to our accommodation and enjoy some music and a cuppa. Cracked a rib skiing so quiet days here are just the ticket. #instantcalm
  • The do road works with style in Tokyo. Hello kitty is used to control traffic. Now that’s an advanced country. #kawaii
  • Shimokitazawa our destination today. Tokyo’s rather fab vintage clothing hub. Did I find a bargain? Nope. But it was ace  looking at all the cool kids and fine threads. 😎
  • Tokyo is a mad crazy town. Shibuya at 10pm on a Sunday night and it’s teeming with people. @kellielawler We managed to do the crossing without loosing an eyeball. Now for some 😴 💤

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