Why do you write like you’re running out of time?
Write day and night like you’re running out of time?
Every day you fight, like you’re running out of time
Keep on fighting, in the meantime-
These are the lyrics to the song Non-Stop from the hit musical Hamilton. I was a big fan of the music, especially since I recognized some of the inspiration they used. As a teenager I had a good few years where I listened to rap music on the daily. Think of artists like Tupac, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Jay-Z, Kanye West, the whole list. Nowadays it’s lower down my list of priorities, but I still appreciate a good rap song. The thing that has always drawn me to rap, is that it is there to convey a message. The same can be said about many genres of music, but I think hip-hop and rap takes the crown here.
During literature class a couple years back we talked about the song The Message by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five. It’s a song of protest. And honestly, some of the issues discussed in the song are still relevant to this day. Equal rights unfortunately do not exist for everyone, and civil unrest is not yet a thing of the past. I won’t go into the video too deep, because quite frankly I’m terrible at literature, and barely remember a majority of that class. In my defense it’s been several years already (time flies) so it’s not strange. I should take more notes.
You’ll grow up in the ghetto, living second rate,
and your eyes will sing a song of deep hate.
This song was sampled for the Hamilton musical, and appears in the Cabinet Meeting song. The point of it all, is that writing needs to have meaning to be interesting to me. Hip-hop does this, but so do good stories. A good story isn’t just a hobbit tossing a ring into a big ol’ vulcano (although that can be very entertaining in and of itself). A good story to me does something more profound than that. It makes you think. Hamilton’s songs, as well as The Message make me think, and I believe that to be very valuable.
When I started writing stories, the only thing I wanted to do was think of fun characters and put them in cool places. I remember finding a hidden labyrinth under my primary school playground that led to a jungle and then a dark cavern. We were saving a classmate of ours, and there were traps and scary things around every corner of the journey. This was before I had a computer, mind you, so I wrote all of this on paper. Unfortunately it has all been lost to time, but I still have the memories of our little writing club in which we all sat around and wrote stories on blank A4 paper. I had no aspirations of telling deep stories back then.
Nowadays, I do want to write about something more profound. Not all the time. I have a story planned for NaNoWriMo later this year that is just chaos mixed with madness and slight hint of insanity. That is fun as well. But whenever I am writing part of the Necromancer’s Daughter (spoiler alert, my draft is a lot further along than one or two chapters), I can’t help but think why this story is interesting. It’s the struggles the characters go through. Figuring out family, the place you belong, xenophobia, religion, war crimes. There are many things a character, or a real person, can struggle with, and these are a lot more fun to dive into than a fiery mountain.
At this point you might be thinking: that sounds very cool and all, Nick, but what does that have to do with the Hamilton song?
And to that I say: good question. Not much, honestly. The only thing I take away from those lines is the value of writing.
A picture says more than a thousand words.
I hate that saying, I always have. So what if a picture says more than a thousand words. I’ll just make sure to write a thousand words and then some. Screw your picture, my words can paint a better picture than your canvas ever can, it’ll just take me longer to get there. And while you paint your pretty picture, I’ll keep writing like I’m running out of time.