Friday, August 13, 2010

Wide Open Spaces

By C.L. Phillips

Susan Gibson, singer songwriter, gave the world the gift of Wide Open Spaces, a song recorded by the Dixie Chicks in 1998.  In the chorus, she says,

She needs wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes

So my question to our published authors and pre-published writers alike is, where is your wide open space with room to make big mistakes?  Where do you go to experiment with your writing?  When you read the line "she needs new faces", what comes to mind?  New characters?  New critique partners?  Or perhaps something deeper.

In June I had the good fortune to hear Susan Gibson reminisce about this song.  She pitched the song to Lloyd Maines, music producer and father of one of the Dixie Chicks.  She said she believed that Lloyd responded to the song first as a father.  Suddenly I realized her words connected with an audience she never intended when she crafted the song. 

A song of a young woman's journey to break out on her own spoke to the heart of a father whose own daughter was searching for her path.  I was more moved by this story than the song itself, because I realized the power of truth bridges the sexes, generations, and life experiences.  There is more here than meets the ear.

How will your readers respond to your work?  Sometimes the most powerful stories are those that speak to the hearts of more than your intended audience.  Who will you unexpectedly move with your truth? 

Sometimes we need wide open spaces.  Room to make mistakes.  A place to learn and grow.  And a spark.  That's what you bring to the party.  Come on, tell us about your wide open spaces.  What about the mistake that turned into a miracle?  

Write on!
C.L Phillips writes mystery novels while nestled under a hundred-year live oak tree in downtown Austin. Except in August. C.L writes about the the gap between what people want and what they actually do. Broccoli or chocolate chip cookies, anyone? Check out her web site: or find her onTwitter: @clphillips787


Clea Simon said...

I love that a father responded to the encouragement to be fearless. Great post.

Anonymous said...

I write best in my library surrounded by my books. My protagonist also lost a child as
I did. Although it's not a major
part of my mystery - a backstory only briefly mentioned, I hope readers will be touched in some way by it. Gloria Alden