The Brilliant Idea

As a prelude to the following anecdote: I love music, as in looooovvvvvvvveeeeee music. I play a little guitar and keyboard, but would describe myself only as an amateur at best. It’s not even a hobby, really, it’s just something that I fiddle about with if I have a spare moment or two. I know even less about computers (that’s relevant, I promise).

Music features heavily in my current series of books, The Guardians of the Path, (computers do not) and I got this idea for the covers of the books: what if I had a song and put a few bars of it on the back of each, so when you laid the books together you would get the whole song? Brilliant, right?! So, I wrote a little ditty on my keyboard, then I just had to figure out a way to get it into written form on my computer.

As noted above, I don’t have the skill-set necessary to do that all on my little own, but enthusiasm and optimism has carried me through greater trials and tribulations. I figured out I needed to download some music writing software (Finale free trial) and hook my keyboard up to my computer. Simple, right? Yeah, no (not for me – this whole thing was truly a major accomplishment, hence the blog). I came up with and followed three simple steps:

1) Find and procure people who know stuff.

2) Think positive!

3) and make Magyc!

1) Fortunately for me, in my life I have many people who know stuff. One such person helped kick-start my endeavor with two words. The first was “USB”. Now, I don’t know much about computers, but I’m not a complete troglodyte. I know what a USB is and what it looks like; my keyboard didn’t have that. Upon my description of “a round hole”, I was provided with the word “MIDI” (for the non-music people like me, that means Musical Instrument Digital Interface, or what you add to chlorians to endow mastery of the Force).

So I went to the wisest person I know – Google – and put in “MIDI to USB cable” and what do you know – such a thing exists!! I ordered one, and being the slightly naive, frugal and pragmatic person that I am, figuring this was a once-off deal, bought the cheapest one on Amazon that qualified for Prime shipping (I can already hear the sighs, eye-rolls, lectures and general censure from the purists – don’t worry, I learned my lesson). Bad idea. No computer I have could see the keyboard and long story short, I bought another, more acceptable cable, and…

2) …with the new cable, though the keyboard could now be seen by my computer, I couldn’t make it work with the software. I was about to scrap the whole idea, thought about it, came close to deciding it wasn’t that important anyway – it can be easy to get frustrated when things don’t work. That never helps. Ever. So – think positive! Never give up, on yourself or your dreams.

Decide that it’s all going to work out, even if everything is going wrong, and hold on to that. Be confident in yourself. If it’s going really, really badly, refer to #1 and be confident in someone else.

In my case, that would be my brother. If you don’t have one of those, I recommend getting one, as soon as possible. He’s amazing – he is to electronics what Jesus was to the sick, lame and blind – he waves his hands and they work. I don’t know how he does it. After about two weeks of me trying different things, I swallowed my pride and asked if he could help me the next time he was over at the house. He spent five minutes – five minutes! – clicked some things, looked at some other things, and voila! Suddenly, when I pressed a key on the keyboard, music happened on the computer and I could…

3) …make Magyc!! It’s not easy to describe how to make Magyc. It’s a different process for each person, and unfortunately the schools don’t cover what to do if you have no inherent magic talent. You’re just pretty much screwed. If you have magic talent, but don’t inherently know what to do with it, you’re also screwed. Very few people are able to point a wand at something and make the right thing happen on the first go.

It’s more an art, less a science. There’s no hard and fast recipe for sparkly-rainbow-golden-beams-and-unicorn-tears Magyc, no pseudo-Latin phrase you can say with the right inflection or formulation of strange and exotic ingredients simmered together under a blue moon to produce this ethereal thing. Trial and error is always fun. Trial and success is more fun. And I fully believe that if you try enough times, you’ll learn more and more of what you need to know in order to make your own unique brand of Magyc, which this world desperately needs.

Anyway, with some optimism, people who know stuff, persistence, trial and error, more trial and error, coffee, and trial and success, my brilliant idea came to partial fruition:


Yay!!! So, that’s what I did with my last weekend. I have the music – I have no idea if I’ll be able to get it into a format to put on the cover, but remember, there’s always:

1) Find and procure people who know stuff.

2) Think positive!

3) and make Magyc!

In the eternal words of David Essex, Michael Damian and Def Leppard, Rock on!