48 days, days 2 and 3: grape-vining

{{ I am chronicling 48 days of writing before my July 31 travel. If you are chronicling your summer writing/days and would like to share, please link or comment so we can all cheer one another through. Strength to your sword arm! }}

Saturday felt like Friday, maybe because Roger, our genius water-land management guru, was here working, and so I worked all day. I made starts and stops on a picture book -- frustrating, trying to find the way in. So I left it to simmer.

I pretended I was writing a story set in 1969 for book three of the sixties trilogy, just to see if this is really going to grab my attention. I tried an alternate beginning, and liked it. It's very hippie-heavy. I slept on it Saturday night, and woke up Sunday morning (this morning) feeling like it was way to "old" for middle grade readers. Second thoughts.

Still, I researched 1969 Rock-and-Roll and R&B and Soul and listened to many of those songs on YouTube, trying to find an anchor song for 1969, should I go that direction. I listened to "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" (1968) by Marvin Gaye and got sad looking at pictures of Marvin and remembering about Marvin's tremendous talent and violent death, the death of the sixties, all the deaths... which is a hazard of writing about the sixties, or any time period you've lived through.

A song like "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" leads me to read about Marvin Gaye (The Prince of Soul) and Motown and Barry Gordy and get interested in telling that story. When I can pull myself away from that memory lane, I listen to Gladys Knight and the Pips singing "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" (1967). But I know the version I listened to most: "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" by CCR -- Creedance Clearwater Revival. I have to look it up. 1970.

I have to look up the song itself now, and I get lost in all the versions and the writers and the productions... an hour is gone. Back to my Billboard list. "Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" by The Fifth Dimension.

         When the moon is in the 7th house
         And Jupiter aligns with Mars
         Then peace will guide the planets
         And love will steer the stars.

Is that a good anchor for 1969? Maybe. Especially if I'm going counter-culture heavy. I can imagine this song juxtaposed with Vietnam War stills.

I keep looking, lost in 1969. I find The Rooftop Concert by The Beatles, singing "Get Back." I love this! Love the lyrics for this project. And yet... I'm writing about the American 1960s. And I'll bet we can't afford Beatles lyrics. At. All. S'okay. Still, I pin the concert to my growing Pinterest board of pins about 1969.

Some of this is necessary work. It's how I will find the seven anchor songs for the seven scrapbook sections of book 3. Some of this is feeding my nostalgia. Some of this is what we used to call "pea-vining" in the South... taking one's time to meander along. I'll call it grape-vining and be done with it for today. I call this writing, even though the narrative isn't moving forward. Do you? Everything is percolating.

The Billboard Top 100 list of number one songs for 1969, in chronological order for the year, is here.

Here's another Billboard list, longer, and actually 100 songs, at Wikipedia. I don't know if they are ranked by sales, or what, but the order is different. This is indicative of the trouble I run into with research (and, sometimes, with Wikipedia). I consider Wikipedia a good jumping-off place, though, and use it extensively to figure out where I want to go next. Everything must be verified, and that includes sources outside of Wikipedia as well.

Sunday is a day off. I'm playing with playlists. I'm going to read over everything I did last week as a way to prime my pump for a long work day on Monday. I need to pay my second quarter taxes. I need to water the garden -- it's 95 degrees here today and brilliantly, relentlessly sunny. Jim and I are going on a driving-around-ATL date, something we do from time to time -- get lost in this big city and see what we can see. I need to make plane reservations for my Los Angeles trip. I need to do some administrivia.

I need to take a nap.

Too hot to sit here today. 95 degrees. Grapevining at my desk instead.


  1. I'd have to agree with CCR! I skimmed through your 1969 pins--have you watched the movie version of "Hair"? Not sure the Fifth Dimension captured the gritty spirit of those songs (but I loved the 5D).

    1. I really dislike the movie version of Hair, but I saw it long ago and maybe should give it another chance. I've seen the play, though. Knocked my socks off. I agree about the gritty spirit! (I loved the Fifth Dimension, too.)


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