This week is the third installment of the new Shiny Sparks series, and we hear from MC Dalet about the power of music. MC Dalet provides a snapshot into his creative process: music is his guide, his healer, and an expansive tool to fuel his own creations.
I can work anywhere. In fact, a piece often pops into my mind, and I immediately jot down what I can, wherever I am. I work in spurts, and sporadically. But if I need to jump-start a creative session, my fuel of choice is music. I suppose it would be trite to say that I draw my inspiration from music were I strictly a lyricist, but that’s hardly the case. By career I’m an academic, building scholarly articles, presentations, and classes. I am a poet, a playwright, and as of late, I’ve written a fair amount of speculative fiction. No matter the mode or genre I’m spinning I find myself searching for the rhythm of the thing as much as I am for language, and I buckle down best at night, when the beautiful but raucous voices of my small children fall silent to slumber and the inaudible noise of emails and tasks take a pause. In the darkness, the light is revealed–there is clarity and inspiration. I sit on my back porch beneath a canopy of trees, the rustling of their leaves and the wind (or the insects) a buzz of white noise, cleansing the sonic palate. Inspired by urban nature I begin a generative process by throwing on some music. Headphones on, I brainstorm, sketch, and draft wildly in bits and pieces, phrases and rough, swirling thoughts. There’s no lyrical bleed-over. Though sometimes song subjects do nudge content, my content generally comes from the day’s memory banks and wild imagination now blending with the mood and cadence of my chosen musical input, be it synth-laden Rush, the distorted folk of Neil Young, the driving pound of Tool, the wandering movement of Edie Brickell, or whatever just seems right. After a few songs, or one side of a record, silence. Everything coalesces into its own unique rhythm and full drafts emerge. I’ll edit in the light of day, when the Dreamtime gives way to tasking. For me, writing is a rhythm. When I remember that life is a jam session, all I have to do is find the riff I need, let pen hit paper, and make it sing.
MC Dalet holds a Ph.D. in humanities from the University of Texas at Dallas and teaches humanities and English at Tarrant County College. He has presented his scholarship and performance pieces, which focus on performativity and the interdependence of life and art, in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. As a performer, he has trod the stage as an actor, fallen off buildings as a stunt performer, and raised a ruckus as a percussionist and (sometimes) vocalist with Mule Dixon, Fish Fry Bingo, and Shotgun Friday (https://www.facebook.com/ShotgunFridayTX/; https://shotgunfriday.bandcamp.com/releases). He is currently writing a scholarly book and working on a solo album with the help of the band Straight 2 Video. His poetry, short fiction, and drama have appeared in Marine Creek Reflections, New Plains Review, and Sojourn and on his Facebook page (https://m.facebook.com/MCDalet/). Dalet is a regular contributor in Essay Club (https://www.facebook.com/EssayClub/) .