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From Stone Soup Writing Workshop #17: Writing about Music

The Writing Challenge

Use any musical element—different instruments, arrangements, styles, and settings—to write about music. It could be about how music makes someone feel, or the story of someone involved in music, or anything else you think up.

An excerpt from “My Brother Was the Bayou”

Liam Hancock
Liam Hancock, 12
Danville, CA

“I want to listen to the man tonight,” I said nonchalantly, leaning back in my rocking chair. I glanced over to Mama, who seemed a world away. With needles, and thread, and tablecloths strewn about tables.

She sighed, her fingers artfully dancing around one another in a timeless ballet. Needle, thread, tablecloth. Tablecloth, needle, thread. “If Pops is in the mood,” she replied, her voice distant as the indigo sky spanned out about the swaying trees and warming bayou air. A small, wooden raft trundled by. “And it’s up to the man, Jackson, if he wants to play.”

I shrugged, grabbing hold of our shambled roof and yanking myself to a stand, nodding in satisfaction as the rocking chair rolled back and slammed headlong into our small swamp cabin, sending the precarious boards shuddering in protest. I leapt down to the muddy banks, swatting away an assault of mosquitoes.

“He plays when I want him to,” I pressed, the brown-greenish sheen of river water and soppy dirt seeping into my hunting boots. “And when I want to sleep, he stops.” I hesitated. “I think he likes me.”

Mama took a pretty second to cast me a quizzical look. “That’s the most fine dandy and rediculous idea I’ve ever heard with these two ears.” She returned back to her knitting. “Pops should be nearby, maybe on Elkdead Island. Why don’t you take the skiff over?”

I grinned. “I knew you’d come around!” I cried, leaping into our humble two-seater skiff and unknotting the rope in a supersonic leap.

Pops’ favorite hunting stop was Elkdead Island, and on a good day, he’d return back to the cabin with a hunk of deer meat and some camouflage paint smudged over his nose that Mama would fuss over for the entirety of the dinner meal until he washed up. It wouldn’t take much too long to find him in the shallow sawgrass. The island didn’t offer much in the way of tree cover, naturally making the job of gator hunting much cleaner than on the other side of the river.

I was out onto the river with a good shove of the arms and started on my way. Oars in, oars out. Oars in, oars out. And hope none of the gators are about.

About the Stone Soup Writing Workshop

The Stone Soup Writing Workshop began in March 2020 during the COVID-19-related school closures. In every session, a Stone Soup team member gives a short presentation, and then we all spend half an hour writing something inspired by the week’s topic or theme. We leave our sound on so we feel as though we are in a virtual café, writing together in companionable semi-silence! Then, participants are invited to read their work to the group and afterward submit what they wrote to a special writing workshop submissions category. Those submissions are published as part of the workshop report on our blog every week. You can read more workshop pieces, and find information on how to register and join the workshop, at https://stonesoup.com/stone-soup-writing-workshop.