The Story-Behind-the-Story

Terra Symphony String Quartet

Having no idea what to write this week, I thumbed through my pictures for inspiration. I did a double take on this picture I took last year while running to catch a subway under NYC. I remember stopping for a moment to listen to the beautiful music being played by this string quartet and thinking, Wow, that is a breath of fresh air down here!

I haven’t thought about this brief encounter until today when I looked closely at the picture and saw the banner hanging behind the quartet. Mmmm…they have a name: The Terra Symphony Orchestra String Quartet.

I dug around relevant websites and discovered that this NYC-based Brazilian orchestra began as a dream of violinist/violist Eliano Braze. He funded his dream through subway donations. I thought of the donation I put into the open violin case a year ago and how it, along with the many other donations dropped in the case, keeps Eliano’s dream alive.

When Eliano was a child, he lived on Brazil’s streets. Through a special project, Eliano learned to play the violin at age 10 and played with an orchestra at age 13. By 14 he was composing. In his twenties he followed love to New York, bringing his love of music with him. Now he works with his dream orchestra and continues his work under the streets of New York bringing joy to people like me.

Where does Eliano Braz get his inspiration? According to the Terra Symphony Orchestra website he is “Inspired by earth’s original symphony found in the Amazon jungle.” So while I’m combing my iPhone pictures for inspiration, he’s mining ancient history and finding funds in the bowels of the underground.

If you want inspiration, watch this (you have to scroll down to 2nd video) 5-minute documentary about Eliano Braz. By the end, I was thunderstruck by what people can accomplish through their dreams. I realize how small my dreams are compared to Eliano’s. This was a reminder that our dreams get played out in underground tunnels of life where we inspire one another in ways we’ll never know.

So what did this subway quartet teach me about writing?

  • Inspiration can be found anywhere…from the Amazon jungle to the NYC subway.
  • Look behind a story for the real story.
  • Don’t just dream, dream big and dream beyond the boundary of your life.

Thank you Eliano for taking your music underground on the day I happened to be catching a subway.

Be Still My Beating Heart

Ribbons of Waterfalls

I took this picture during a hike at Catawba Falls in Old Fort, North Carolina. It was a beautiful hike, preserved by a simple picture.

Simple picture led to a simple poem and essay which led to a simple submission to a lovely publication out of Warren, Minnesota: Woods Reader.

Ever since my writing partner, Amy Nicholson, had her beautiful essay, “A Place Outside of Time,” published in Woods Reader last year, I had a goal to join her as a Woods Reader writer.

I got my acceptance when I was in the hospital recovering from surgery. I threw off the covers and was ready to walk home after that e-mail. In the acceptance of my poem for their spring issue and my essay for the upcoming summer issue, they asked if I had any pictures related to my essay. One that I sent was the ribbons of waterfalls above.

Guess what? They wrote back and asked if they could use it for their spring cover. Oh, be still my beating heart. “Yes! Of course!”

Last week, I was washing dishes and my husband walked in the house with the mail. With my hands in soapy water, I turned to say hello. He held up the journal, packaged in a clear wrapper, “Look what arrived!”

“Be still my beating heart!!” I yelled as I walked away from the dish water and reached for Woods Reader, ribbons of water falling from my hands.

“Don’t you think you should dry your hands first?” my husband asked.

There it was in print….this beautiful picture reminding me of our lovely hike. Inside the journal, my poem–winner of the Woods Reader Winter and Snow Poetry Challenge. There, picture and poem, for others to appreciate. Not me…not my picture or my poem; rather the simple beauty of ribbons of waterfalls or sparse words about dancing trees and a child who dreams of sleeping on pillows of snow.

It is amazing that something tiny like a droplet of water, mixing with lots of other droplets, meanders down crevices of rock creating these beautiful falls; and that little me, a droplet meandering down the crevices of life, can create something that gets shared in this lovely publication.

Lots of writing lessons here…

  • A writing buddy is a good, inspiring thing to have
  • A writing goal propels you forward
  • Beauty, in life and picture, enhances writing
  • Getting something published…sharing writing, is incredibly satisfying.
  • We have a voice through the written word or a photograph.
  • Let your voice be heard!

Blah-Blah-Blah

I think it was January when I opened a WordPress account so I would have a place to share writing clips. Bit by bit I’ve added clips of articles, but ignored this blog page. Maybe it’s because I don’t like the word “blog.” It starts with that bl-blend, goes on to rhyme with fog, and disintegrates into “Blah-Blah-Blah.”

I don’t want to do words–write ones–that become a bland listing tuned out by readers. For months I’ve stood frozen over my keyboard, waiting to dive into a non-blog blog; wanting to first invent a new word.

Last Sunday was Easter. My husband and I walked Whites Woods near our home in Litchfield, CT. It was a warm, grey day–the perfect background for trailing spring from the underbrush to the canopy above. Yup! Spring is here. Finally it’s time to put fingers to keyboard and begin. I’ll let you know when I find a new word for “blog.” For now, a new beginning.