Writing Music is Hard

I was going through my trunk of memorabilia (looking to pare it down to a box) when I came across a song I wrote in high school. I didn’t like it at the time and looking back I still think it’s painfully ordinary. I don’t have a piano to play it on, but I played the right hand part on the Casio I use to practice difficult choir pieces. Nothing engaging or inventive or anything. Not a hint of talent or promise.

Also. I don’t know why I wrote 7/8 as the time signature. It must have been a mistake, but I didn’t pick up on it because … I was an idiot? Oh wait, in the third measure I did something which might explain the 7/8, except, does it? In any case, I do remember concluding that writing music was hard, and since I wasn’t at all drawn to do better I had better find something else to do with my life. Wise choice teenage Stacy! The title doesn’t mean anything. I thought it sounded cool and Grateful Dead-ish. Funny the things you remember.

Trunk Pare Down Result: I managed to throw out half a garbage bag full of stuff, but not enough to fit what was left into a smaller box. I didn’t throw out this page of bad music. And I saved the first novel I ever wrote, which is also very. very bad. I didn’t want anyone who might read a paragraph or two of it after I die to think I didn’t know just how bad it was, so on the outside of the envelop containing it I wrote: “My very, very, bad first novel.”

Unlike my music writing attempt, I wanted very badly to figure out how to write a good book so I kept going. Roughly twenty years later I published my first book.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

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