Monday, November 16, 2015

Fan letter to Ani Difranco

In Austin Kleon's book Steal Like an Artist, he suggests writing a public fan letter to one of your artistic heroes. I actually have several and I like the idea of creating blog posts for each one eventually. I'm starting with one of my earliest.

I discovered Ani Difranco when I was in high school. Her self-titled debut album was acoustic singer-songwriter perfection. Her music challenges sexism and war and the status quo as well as tackling love and heartbreak. I'm grateful to have found such a powerful role model in those years when many girls are making do with female pop stars who conform to some pretty gross social standards.

Over the years, she has experimented with different musical styles but her lyrics continue to knock me out. As a writer myself, I am so impressed by her ability to capture a feeling in a few words, to convey the most complicated emotion in a three minute song.

This month, I've been struggling with my current WIP as I participate in NaNoWriMo. I have five characters whose narrated chapters overlap as the story moves forward. Last week, I was feeling a bit stuck when I thought of a lyric from one of my favorite Ani songs, Overlap:

i search your profile for a translation
i study the conversation like a map
'cause i know there is strength in the differences between us
and i know there is comfort where we overlap
I felt these familiar lyrics in a new way, more like confirmation than inspiration. I felt like: oh yeah, that's what I'm doing. As if part of me had known it all along.

As I kept listening to the song, I heard something else that resonated:

i build each one of my songs out of glass
so you can see me inside them, i suppose
or you could just leave the image of me in the background, i guess
and watch your own reflection superimposed.

Switch out the word "song" for "book" and you've got me. Although I write fiction, people who know me well will find pieces of me throughout my stories. And, hopefully, readers discover something meaningful about themselves, too.


  1. I like the idea of overlapping characters and narration from multiple perspectives (as you know!). Nice blog post, and I'm looking forward to reading the new work too.

  2. thanks. i'm hoping to knock out a few more chapters before nano ends.