The Day Seattle Died is the term that had been given to the day April 5th. The first wave hit in 1994 with the death of Kurt Cobain and the second wave hit in 2002. Both days I can remember only the announcements, how they made me feel, and how I reacted. I cannot remember what I was doing before or after, but these have always been pushpins in my timeline. I’ve had many conversations with why people didn’t like Cobain, why people didn’t like grunge music, or why it was all ‘dumb’, but for me these were important events in my life, important enough to me to remember them.

I grew up on a healthy diet of my family’s musical tastes. My dad served me The Doors, Foghat, Fleetwood Mac, Steppenwolf, Mamas and the Papas, Uriah Heep, Jim Croce, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and other artists he grew up with, loved, or heard while he served. My mother served me platefuls of The Statler Brothers, Johnny Cash, other country music artists, and gospel artists to even me out. My sibling added his touches, salt and peppering my early life with the music of the time. He left the television on MTV when he was around, so I ultimately would be introduced to other musicians of the times. This is how I learned of Nirvana originally.

With all that, as one may assume correctly, I was constantly hearing decades gone by and what was ‘dope’ or ‘da bomb’. My dad played guitar or sang almost all the time. It was my signal he was, in the very least, in a decent mood. My mom sang when she cooked, cleaned, and sometimes at bed (something I do for my child and yes some same songs, they’ve got their own groove in my grey matter. Check out You are my Sunshine by Johnny Cash, released in 1969).

The First Wave Hitting

I remember watching Nirvana Unplugged in late 1993. Like everyone else, I was unaware that only a few months after its airing Cobain would be gone. I was in 3rd grade, still, when the announcement popped up on MTV (This was days after he had died and when the public learned of the news on April 8th, 1994). I had just turned the television on and it was already flipped to MTV, my sibling had been there at some point. At first, the announcement was a little crawl at the bottom of the screen and then it was an interruption of Kurt Loder releasing the information.

I saw the original of this:

I can remember being sad and confused. This was the first time I’d ever heard of suicide and didn’t know what it meant. I had yet to learn how troubled someone must be to attempt much less succeed. One of my parents came in and asked what I was watching and telling them Kurt Cobain had died. I can’t remember which one came in, but remember it was one of them. I also remember them telling me they didn’t know who I was talking about. “He’s the singer of Nirvana,” I explained. Their reply, “changes nothing, I still don’t know who they are.”

The announcement was all I really remember from that day. Later, several days later, eleven to be exact I have discovered, I remember seeing Eddie Vedder’s tribute via a ‘K’ on his shirt because someone in the house was watching Saturday Night Live when it happened.

The Second Wave

I was in 9th grade listening to the radio when I heard that Layne Staley had died. I instantly thought of the previously shared memory. I was older then. I understood what suicide is by this point and even how destructive drugs are on those taking them and the loved ones around a user.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I cried. I didn’t just tear a little I full blown blubbered and shook crying to the news. My sibling came in to see what was going on and I told him. I remember destruction crossing his face; he was sad too. My sibling and I don’t get along very well for many reasons. The actual brother/sisterhood we share is almost non-existent. We rarely shared decent moments through my life, this was one of those few times. In that moment, we were both broken. I do feel it was also in that moment my sibling realized I knew more about music than he ever had cared to wonder before and how greatly it affected me.

I can remember the next day still being sad walking the halls of my high school. No one else had been affected. It was as if it hadn’t even happened. I wasn’t expecting the halls to be filled with crying girls and somber statues made of the male gender or anything (Not like the devastation I witnessed of my classmates when September 11th happened). It bothered me how it was different for everyone else. I’m sure many of them didn’t even know who he was, most of my classmates loved either hip-hop, gospel, or pop.

I loved Alice In Chains and still do, very much so.

Frank Micelotta, Getty Images

As an adult, I’ve seen two more major hits to the list of my favorite bands of my childhood. In 2015, on my birthday to boot, Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots passed. Two years later, Chris Cornell died. In my post 90s Kid Alert, I talked about watching my childhood fade away. The day Chris Cornell died; May 18th, 2017 was one of those days that again made me sad. I felt the music of my life was slipping between my fisted fingers. I was grasping for some happy memories of my life.

In those fists I held the music I grew up with. Music always made me happy. All those days and nights I danced, head-banged, and transported myself somewhere else became more realistic. Life was hitting me with its shittiest branch–the one called reality. With the death of Mr. Cornell, those like me that loved ‘grunge’ music have been left with one singer of my generation, a damn good one too–Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Temple of the Dog.

I recommend reading this article from Loudwire to read more about Cobain and Staley. I also recommend reading this article from The Economic Times about Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder.

Interesting Reads and Related Content

Last night, my kid and I were talking about my website and content ideas I’ve been having lately. He then suggested what is now becoming this post. He wanted to send a challenge to all writers. Understanding what a prompt is he decided to go that route for his challenge. Below are three!

  1. Write from the perspective of a tree. Every ring of the tree is a lifetime. Your challenge here isn’t just to write from the perspective of a tree, but to write about each lifetime. Are you a young tree or a very old one? What have you seen while you have been here? What did you see as a seedling until now?
  2. Life of a cat. With some many abandoned animals in the world and so many in need your challenge is to write something dramatic and serious. What can you write about the life of a cat. Where you a street cat that was saved? Were you caught up in medical testing? Where you a posh-living kitty that was abandoned one day?
  3. Write about a fallen angel. This can be first or third person. Why did the angel fall? Was it an epic battle? You don’t necessarily have to have them fall to Hell, but they could’ve fallen to Earth instead. Were they once a guardian angel?

There they are. The challenges to all writers my son has given. Think you’re up for it? Think you can come up with something for his challenge?

Many people struggle with writing, I get it sometime it gets hard, but never give up! Here is a list on how to improve your storytelling! These are tips I have shared for years to help everyone wanting to write stories or even improve their literary role-playing and storytelling. It’s time to bust out your thesaurus or your online dictionaries for what they were meant for!


5. Research

The saying goes: write what you know. I agree fully, but what about everyone else that love writing new things, things they may not know? To that I say: write what you know because research will teach you. If you’re unsure of something fully exhaust yourself researching about a subject. Of course, go fully legal in your research and harm no one.

4. Comparing

The best way for a writer to explain something is to compare it to something more familiar. Recently, I wrote a short story and inside of it I described a UFO as a ‘silver donut’ Seems very simple, but you now know exactly what I’m talking about right.

It’s good to be descriptive, but sometimes simple gets the job done. If you’re writing descriptively enough throughout the story comparing something unfamiliar to something that is recognizable is a great way for the reader to see in their mind what you’re trying to convey.

3. Know Your Characters/World

The best way to write a character or world is to fully flush them out. It may be tedious, but it can help very much during writing. This is also where the jokes authors make of ‘my character wouldn’t let me’ or ‘they told me how they felt’ come in. It’s from, I hope, them flushing out personalities, histories, and all of that before hand.

Ask yourself questions and answer them. Who is this man or woman? Did they overcome what they went through? Did it damage them in anyway? This is also good for world building.

Fully flush out everything, enough of everything at least. I’ve met writers that have gone above and beyond creating interesting worlds and some that have done enough.

2. Pull From Your Own Emotions

This seems easy enough, but sometimes isn’t utilized properly. I have become well known for my ’emotionally driven writing style’ and the secret is this. If I’m writing something more horrific than what I’ve been through I use how I felt to write what it is and try and add upon it.

For example: I’ve never been possessed, but I’ve written about it (Human Ouija, The Blasphemer Series: Harvest, and The Painting of Martel depict different styles of possession). I imagine the worse possible feelings I’ve gone through, wrote them, and then thought more about the character’s situation. Feeling invaded, feeling overwhelmed, and perhaps confused.

1. Remember Your Five Aristotelian Senses

The key to really pulling someone into your story and improving your own writing is remembering the 5 ‘traditional’ senses (also known as the Five Aristotelian Senses). These are touch, taste, hearing, seeing, and smell.

Ask yourself questions.

Touch/Feeling – Is it cold? How does this character feel about that? Can they feel the warmth of their coat or perhaps they feel the chill because they’re not properly dressed. Perhaps your character has picked up something, how did that object feel. You can even describe simply if it was heavy or lighter than expected.

Tasting – Is the food salty or sweet? Did that cause them to moan enjoying the flavor? Say they were hit in the mouth, what did the taste of the blood against the taste buds of their tongue taste like? Perhaps they expected something to taste delicious because it appeared that way, but sadly it was disgusting. You can describe the disgusting flavors, why it was disgusting to that character. How did the food look before they tasted it?

Hearing – If the scene is ‘quiet’ can the character hear the buzzing of the air against their eardrums? Perhaps they do and it’s interrupted by a sudden noise. How did they react to it? Was it a familiar sound of another character coming home or a stranger breaking in? Did they hear glass shattering of a window or a door’s wood breaking when it was kicked in?

Seeing – So much of the story can be based on what is seen or describing a scene in such a way the reader can see it too. Things can be bright, blinding bright, or dark and dim. It is, for me, one of the first descriptors as it puts color to the moment.

Smelling – Smell is said to be the strongest of our senses linked to memories. They can take us to our grandmother’s house because she baked a lot or even to a sad memory of losing someone. For example: After a funeral many bring food to the family that has lost someone. Perhaps in this situation your character cannot stand the smell of pies because they remember losing their mother.

There are all kinds of scents. Sweet, nasty, or something that reminds me of our favorite memories. Apply those to your writing. Did the apple smell delicious or has it rot? You can even mix smelling with feeling and go the route of the air smelt clean and cold. You see? Mixing the senses creates a dynamic surrounding for your character and will add to the world they’re in.

You can even go into how the smell made your character feel. Did the burger joint’s smells make your character hungry or sick because it was overpowering? Use this!

There are more senses, you can learn about them here and here. I recommend this as it can help even further!


YOUR TURN

What did you think? Did this help? Have anything to add to the list above? Do you want me to do more examples? Perhaps show these tips in action?