"You better lose yourself in the music
The moment, you own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo" - Eminem, Lose Yourself
So yesterday I was fishing around on OPBs (you know, Other Peoples' Blogs) and found one I frequently read, Kristen Lamb, talking about how Eminem makes her a better writer.
Oh, right, I thought. That's rap. Add a C at the beginning and you have what I really think of the genre. I grew up on real music: Blood, Sweat, & Tears, Chicago, etc. Rap, really?
After reading with as open of a mind as this old curmudgeon can manage, though, I had to concede that she had a point with this: "I believe rap is a modern reinvention of poetry and no, it isn't flowery and enlightened. It's ugly, dark, and often offensive. But so is life."
Okay, fine, you're right. Life can suck sometimes, and one purpose of the arts is to give breath to it, to bring the human condition into what may be sharp and cutting focus. Nope, I'm still not a rap fan. Probably never gonna be, in fact. Don't expect me to buy a ticket to an Eminem concert. I do, I admit, have an appreciation for a couple of his songs, and for the same reason KL gave. They can be offensive, to be certain, but they're powerful, and they speak directly to the core emotional beings inside of us.
Inside of me.
I've admitted before that I use Lose Yourself as an aural energizer whenever I need energizing. That's kind of frequent, by the way, as 12- and 14-hour work days collide with all the other things I have going on. When there's a plot right there in my mind that needs writing I need nothing but a keyboard, but when the plot is still kinda hazy (as it usually is) it really does require a fair amount of work to clear it off enough to put it on paper. That's a fair amount of work at the end of a day in which I already exerted a fair amount of work.
C'mon, the book doesn't have to come out next week. It'll wait another night, right?
"And I can't provide the right type of life for my family
Cuz man, these *** **** food stamps don't buy daipers
And it's no movie, there's no Mekhi Phifer, this is my life
And these times are so hard, it's getting even harder
Tryin' to feed and water my seed, plus teeter-totter
Caught up between being a father and a prima donna
Baby mama drama's screamin' on and too much for me to wanna
Stay in one spot, another day in monotony's
Gotten me to the point I'm like a snail
I've got to formulate a plot or end up in jail or shot,
Success is my only ******-******* option, failure's not
Mom I love you, but this trailer's got to go
I cannot grow old in Salem's Lot, so here I go it's my shot
Feet fail me not, this may be the only opportunity that I got." - Eminem, Lose Yourself
You know, there was a post on KL's blog a few days ago that horrified me. She talked about how some writers have it too easy in their day jobs, and as a result there's no real internal fire fueling them in their drive toward success. She recommended the whole "burn the boats" attitude (a reference to the legend of Cortez ordering his men to burn their boats to insure their commitment to conquest). If life according to the status quo isn't painful, the theory is, you won't strive for more. So if you want more, the burn-the-boats-ers say, then you need to make life painful.
Nah. Not me.
I've had goals for my entire adult life. It's just a mindset that you get into and stay there. Regardless, I'm not about to quit my job and move in with my parents just to ensure my success as an author. Why not? Well, for one thing, my parents aren't movable-inable any longer. For another, I quite like my job no matter how many binders full of crapI have to make for it. Third, I'm not someone who has to feel pain in order to set goals and move toward them.
All that said, though, I can live vicariously through someone else's pain. That's where Eminem's song helps me. Listening to Lose Yourself I can feel the need, taste the desire, get up close and personal with the pain, all the way to my core. The song is that powerful.
So, I listen to Eminem. More often, probably, than most who know me would imagine.
Just--don't look for me to be wearing a baseball hat all cockeyed, okay? Not gonna happen.