In the round

On Thursday night, Andy and I drove to Nashville to visit one of my best friends. For three days we enjoyed good food, live music, and great company. As much as I love writing, and am looking forward to finishing my manuscript, it’s always hard to come back down to earth after a fun, carefree weekend like that.

What helps, though, is how inspired I was by the trip. Big softie that I am, I actually cried a bit at the Grand Ole Opry. They showed clips of Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood being invited to join the Opry family. They led us through the artist’s entrance, over to the dressing rooms, and then onto the stage. Standing on the infamous center circle, looking out into the auditorium, I imagined what it might be like as a young country singer. To see a full house. To hear the thundering applause. To feel all that history paired up with all those years performing for free in smoky bars, sending out demos to record labels, eating nothing but ramen, writing song after song at three in the morning. And then, if you’re lucky, to be singing at the Opry. A dream come true.

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Later that night we went to the Bluebird Cafe. It was like going back in time, to those smoky bars I was talking about. (Except there was no smoke, and I think these guys get paid.) Four songwriters, plus an amazing accompanist, played “in the round” — an unmarked circle in the center of the cafe. We sat close around them, practically elbow to elbow, while they took turns sharing their songs and their stories. Again I was struck by the passion, the heart, in their music and their words. It reminded me of my own journey, my own heart.

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From L to R: Shannon Cain, Bill Maier, Robert K. Wolf, and the accompanist, who I think is named Jack Otts. Unpictured is the fourth singer/songwriter, Michelle Hemmer.

They sang of love and laughter, of heartbreak and regret. They sang from a place of honesty. The clarity of their vocals, the purity of their guitars… Genuine emotion poured out of both the musicians and the audience, like so much magic.

That’s what I want to do with my writing. I want to stand on the Opry stage, and I want to sing at the Bluebird Cafe. I want to achieve my dream without forgetting where the passion started. I want to bring readers in the round with me.

17 responses to “In the round”

  1. Shari Avatar

    Love this post. LOVE it.

    There’s such a unique vibe to Nashville, almost like a bit of captured magic combined with an incessant starburst of inspiration. It just … moves you. So glad you had that same experience, and that you had such a wonderful time. I am super jealous of your Opry tour! I wanted to do that when I was there two years ago, but we got there too late and they’d already closed for the day. It’s definitely on my list for next time!

  2. Rachele Alpine Avatar

    I love Nashville! My husband (weird!) and I went for our six month anniversary and always talk about going back. We went to an amazing restaurant called F Scott’s. I’m glad you had a great time!

  3. Joelle Wilson Avatar

    What a great time. Excellent post – “I want to bring readers in the round with me.” You write with passion here on your blog, so it stands to reason that your novel writing is full of it too. Full of passion I mean. :)

  4. Sonje Avatar

    Your passion for writing is all over this website, and I know it’s infectious because it’s what got me started writing again. I have little doubt that you can bring the same passion for writing TO your writing.

  5. linda Avatar

    Thanks for sharing, Kristan! I feel inspired just reading this post. I have no doubt you’ll see your dreams come true. :)

  6. Les Avatar

    One of the places I’d like to visit some day! Such a unique city.

  7. T. S. Bazelli Avatar

    Sounds like a great trip. It’s always good to be reminded of why we want to do this ;)

  8. Kristan Avatar

    Aw, thanks! I definitely recommend the tour. Next time I need to catch a concert… :P

    Dude, I totally would love a restaurant called F. Scott’s. My computer is named Gatsby, even! I’m planning to visit my friend again later in the year, so maybe I can check it out then.

    Joelle, Sonje, and Linda-

    Just a warning: it’s not super PRETTY, lol… But it’s a neat city. Like Denver, it’s someplace I think I could live.

  9. Sarah Wedgbrow Avatar

    Kristan, I love how you write, your worldview…just whatever you’re selling, I’m buying. xx

  10. Kristan Avatar

    Haha, thanks. I sure hope agents and editors and readers feel the same way!

  11. Meghan Ward Avatar

    I’ve never been to Nashville. I’m not a huge fan of the south, although I’ve never been to Texas or Nashville. I liked New Orleans when I went 20 years ago (gulp), and I’ve heard great things about Austin and San Antonio. Sounds like you had a great time, though!

  12. Kristan Avatar

    The South isn’t perfect, but there’s a lot to love. (The friendliness, the FOOD…) NOLA is fabulous, particularly the music and food. Ditto Nashville, but in a very different way and a much smaller scale. I think you would like Austin — it’s almost a fusion of a Texas base with NYC culture and Pacific NW values. San Antonio can be fun but doesn’t have as wide of an appeal.

  13. Pseudo Avatar

    I loved this. Made me feel like exactly like I would if I was there myself.

  14. Aurora Avatar

    wth?! how did you come to nashville and NOT VISIT ME???

  15. Kristan Avatar

    You’re in Nashville?? I honestly had no idea. :( Hopefully I can get down there again!

  16. Aurora Avatar

    hah, actually I’m moving back to cali in a month (the bay area)… you can visit me there!

  17. Kristan Avatar

    Oh, boo. But yay for the Bay Area!