Sending out an SOS


Confession: I haven’t written a song since November.

GAH.  I don’t want anyone to know that!  I am such a fraud.

I feel like a snail – one that has been left out in the brutal sunshine, shriveled up inside its flimsy shell.  I feel no inspiration.  I have no ideas.

Oh, sure.  One might argue that I’ve had a few other things going on in recent months, taking a lot of my time and energy.  But still.  When I’m not writing – not outputting in some way – something important inside of me feels dead.

All I feel is tired.  Craving time alone, or maybe just an old dog, or a little toddler to snuggle.  I don’t want to have to explain myself to anyone.  I don’t want to have to find words to voice anything – because how can I possibly express what I’m feeling?

Huh.  This is an inconvenient stance for a so-called songwriter to take.

But I’ve been here before.  Remember?  And so I’m taking the same approach as last time, and giving myself the grace of filling up my mind with other stories, other songs, other ideas.  It worked last time – I wound up writing some new songs that I’m quite fond of, a few of which you HAVEN’T EVEN HEARD YET.

(Annie Parsons’ EP, coming soon someday to a website near you.)

So I need your help again.  What should I fill my mind with?  It can be a song, a book, an essay, a website, an article, a movie… what do you feel inspired by, or just plain enjoy?

I just finished season 1 of “Heroes,” and in spite of a ridiculous plotline and an often painful script, that was some good entertainment.  Destiny!  Purpose!  Exploding humans!  I’ve been listening to some great songs – Julie Miller’s “Give Me an Ocean,” and Kasey Chambers’ “Nothing At All,” and Vienna Teng’s “City Hall.”  And it is difficult to make me much happier than to turn on “This American Life” or “The Moth.”

On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve been reading “The Catcher in the Rye” for TWO WHOLE MONTHS, and have recently decided not to finish it – because it is depressing as hell and let’s be honest: if I haven’t finished it by now, then I really don’t care at all about Holden Caulfield (case in point – I had to Google the book just now to remember his name).

Let’s all kick-start our hearts, shall we?  What do you love?



  1. Val on May 5, 2009 at 8:40 AM

    Oh Annie, you most definitely need to read “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” if you haven’t already. It’s exciting and intriguing and lovely and you must read it by AUGUST because that’s when the MOVIE comes out starring one RACHEL MCADAMS. I love her.

    Speaking of movies, you simply must find yourself a copy of “You Can’t Take It With You.” It’s a wonderfully zany old black and white film with Jimmy Stewart, and is about this crazy family that EVERYONE would want to be a part of. I mean, really: dancing in the living room, sliding down banisters, shooting off fireworks in the basement? Glorious.

    For a hilarious and fun blog that will make you laugh and want to write JUST LIKE HER, visit She’s amazing– and sometimes profane? Maybe? But ALWAYS hilarious….

    For more book ideas, visit my friend Katie’s blog. She is a writer/thinker/knitter/tea drinker who pracitcally reads for a living. Here are the books she’s put away recently- definitely some must-reads here!
    And even more:

  2. Shannon on May 5, 2009 at 8:48 AM

    I love your honesty.

    Madeleine L’Engles book, A Circle of Quiet. Kinda sounds like you could use a little circle of quiet yourself. You might enjoy it. =)

  3. Matt on May 5, 2009 at 8:51 AM

    I don’t know your tastes very well yet, but get yourself a copy of “Late For the Sky” by Jackson Browne. Not only inspiring, it will also change how you look at songs and songwriting (at least it did for me). Probably my favorite album ever.

  4. Peg on May 5, 2009 at 9:30 AM

    Agree with Circle of Quiet. Also Father Elijah (O’Brien). Amazing work that makes you think. Selfless protagonist.

  5. Bryn on May 5, 2009 at 9:33 AM

    Hi Annie,

    This probably isn’t what you were asking for, but this is what I thought of when reading your blog today, so here it is: Ephesians 2:10. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” I love the idea that God sets up these events – like he wants to speak to someone or wants something to happen or change, so he gets all the conditions just right, and then we just show up and do our part. This is how I feel when I play. You might never know what you’re doing or who you’re touching, but you do your thing – be who you are in the world – and God uses it.

    Also, and I don’t know if this helps at all either, but my teenagers have been playing their new album from Mute Math on their iPods when we’re driving around. There are some interesting songs on there. I like “You are Mine” and another one about how we “all break the same”.

    And hey, if you’re still here on the 17th, come down to the choir room for dinner. Want to sing too? That could be arranged.

  6. Erin on May 5, 2009 at 9:49 AM

    Have you seen “Henry Poole is Here”? I saw it the other day and it’s kind of interesting. I need to watch it again. Has some great songs in it…

  7. Dani on May 5, 2009 at 10:19 AM

    I’ve been in a similar place of late, and just finished “Acedia and Me” by Kathleen Norris. It looks daunting, but it’s all love and honesty and poetry and depth.

  8. Ginger Morby on May 5, 2009 at 10:30 AM

    My go-to list for inspiration:

    “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith
    “Chasing Daylight” by Erwin McManus
    “Dangerous Wonder” by Mike Yaconelli

    “Simple Times”- Joshua Radin
    “Gossip in the Grain”- Ray LaMontagne
    (and some old school) “Kansas” – Jennifer Knapp

    “Chariots of Fire”
    “Babette’s Feast”

    Passage of scripture – 1 Samuel 14

  9. Joey on May 5, 2009 at 10:46 AM

    II Kings 2:23-24
    Ezekiel 23:19-20
    Judges 3:16-23 (“I have a message from God” LOL)
    Deuteronomy 25:11-12

    Friday Night Lights season 1

    The Man by Pete Yorn

  10. Sarah on May 5, 2009 at 10:46 AM

    Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I find travel writing pretty inspiring, especially when it’s about taking a trip to find yourself. A friend of mine writes a travel blog, here, and she just inspires the heck out of me. Here photos are gorgeous and she is nonstop – she’s heading to Peru, this summer – Another friend travels pretty extensively, but not as often – He’s also a pretty great writer.

    I also thought The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold was pretty amazing, but it’s better (though makes absolutely NO SENSE) if you skip the first few pages.

  11. Luke Hemphill on May 5, 2009 at 1:11 PM

    Mentally stimulating diversions aka my new best friend:

    ps. I hate Holden Caulfield too

  12. Julianne on May 5, 2009 at 1:24 PM

    I agree with reading things by Madeleine L’Engle…
    Also, Barbara Brown Taylor–she makes me want to write. Her book “When God is Silent” is a good place to start.

  13. Tad on May 5, 2009 at 1:38 PM

    I have found that shooting pictures is really inspirational. Take your little camera out on the next nice day and go some place and shoot pixtures of what ever you see along the way. Candid shot are really cool and hold your imagination for a long time. Be careful not to look creepy while you’re at it though.
    A Blog post about getting arrested would be hilarious for us but not for you.

    “All I feel is tired. Craving time alone, or maybe just an old dog, or a little toddler to snuggle. I don’t want to have to explain myself to anyone. I don’t want to have to find words to voice anything – because how can I possibly express what I’m feeling?”

    Those sound like the beginning of song lyrics to me.

  14. Isaiah Kallman on May 5, 2009 at 2:21 PM

    Don’t worry about not finishing Cather. The book doesn’t exactly end, and I threw it across the room after I read it in high school. “That’s all?!”

    I don’t think you could find Michael Riley or Breathe Owl Breathe records, but I’d be more than happy to make you copies.

  15. Heather on May 5, 2009 at 4:32 PM

    For a totally different approach, you can check out this youtube video on String Theory (theoretical physics). It relates to music… And this article is a nice complement…

    and this…

  16. Riley on May 5, 2009 at 4:48 PM

    I’m a friend of Greta’s… we’ve never met, but I LOVE your blog. Translated: we’re friends, you just don’t know it yet :)

    One of my favorite new artists (just saw her in concert a couple weeks ago… she played with Heather Masse) is Aoife O’Donovan ( lead singer of Crooked Still. Also favorite book = The Brothers K by David James Duncan… if you haven’t already read it, the time is now.

  17. Andrea on May 5, 2009 at 4:57 PM

    Dang, Annie, Catcher in the Rye is one of my favorite books. Hopefully that doesn’t put you off to my literary partialities, because I am recommending my very favorite author – Jonathan Safran Foer. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a beautifully written piece of artwork. Go to the library this very second.

  18. jasonmichael on May 5, 2009 at 4:58 PM

    I really dig Rosie Thomas’s “If Songs Could Be Held” Album. Everything is good off that album except for Pretty Dress.

  19. FW on May 5, 2009 at 5:21 PM

    I think some of your best inspirations come from within you… So Here are some lines from your recent posts – maybe they can serve as starters:

    o Then why is my first instinct to run?

    o I’m finding that staying put requires a lot more courage than leaving.

    o I was only going to do one song, but you get a couple of Long Islands in me, and I’m sorry, but I’m not going to stop.

    o And this girl is getting busy getting grateful.

    o Sometimes, I feel like such a complicated jumble, there could never be hope for a solution.

  20. Allison on May 5, 2009 at 5:25 PM

    i was going to recommend extremely loud and incredibly close by jonathan safran foer…but someone else already did. that’s two votes. it wins. read it.

    and i’m said you didn’t finish catcher in the rye. i have this slightly disturbing, but mostly hilarious, thought to share about what happened to me when i read it…but it spoils the ending.

  21. Carmen Goetschius on May 5, 2009 at 5:41 PM

    Steinbeck– East of Eden– one of the greatest American novels of all time

    Read anything by Sherman Alexie– from the Spokane Indian reservation. Hysterical, moving, painful, raw, just plain good.

  22. Andrea on May 5, 2009 at 6:13 PM

    Oh…I totally agree with “FW”! You’re the reason we are all here. If you write, they will come. You’ve done it in your blog, just turn those words into music. If you believe in your gifts, your talents, you will find that you have plenty to use. I think it’s right there. Are you looking too hard? Sift through your blog entries…you’ve got great material girl. :)

  23. Sarah on May 5, 2009 at 6:23 PM

    Yes. You are an inspiration, which I understand can make actually being inspired sometimes difficult. So, I agree w/the sentiment of looking w/in yourself. It’s in there.

    Back to media (or multi-media) and speaking of Jonathan Saffran Foer, I loved the movie and would like to read the book “Everything is Illuminated.” Also, his website happens to be pretty danged cool –

  24. i’m getting off the “recommending song” bandwagon for a minute. When i was reading your blog for some reason i just had the VIVID memory of when the phone rang and i was offered the position at Mayo clinic. It was “the moment.” I stood there and said to myself “well, what do people do when they realize all their dreams have come true?” I guess my point is – you set a goal, and it was hard as hell getting there, but you made it! Annie, YOU MADE IT. Any thing from here on out is just icing on the cake…and knowing you, you will make it some damn sweet icing. Write about that. Write about the sweetness.

  25. Rebecca on May 5, 2009 at 11:35 PM

    Go back and re-read a book that you love. My comfort books (for when my brain cannot think about finance or business or case studies any more) these days have been: The Emily books (LM Montgomery), Christy and Julie (both by Catherine Marshall) and To Kill a Mockingbird (somehow I forgot how amazing that book is but I re-read it recently). And if you really want some fluff, give the Sisterhood of the Traveling pants a try, really do!

  26. Becca on May 6, 2009 at 2:38 AM

    I have realized that your blog is something I check in on often, and for some reason I have never left a comment, so here I am :) While my internet access is not the greatest over here in Kenya, I find myself glued to the screen to catch up on what I have missed since I last checked it. Your writing is amazing, and definitely a page-turner (I guess scroller for internet?) in itself. I also am stunned that from the time I started reading this sitting until now, 11 more people have left comments for you on this entry. 11! You are amazing girl… keep doing what you are doing. I agree with many others, which is look inside yourself as your inspiration is on your pages. I know that is of no help though, kind of like “you already have the answer right infront of you”. I hate advice like that…
    All the best,

  27. Katie on May 6, 2009 at 9:15 AM

    Eva Rice’s book The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is fantastic. Also the piano soundtrack to the “new” Pride and Prejudice, and check out for stunning photography.

  28. josh g on May 6, 2009 at 10:58 AM

    Wow, you have some amazing blog readers Annie. Here’s what I have to offer. i don’t read much, but the last books I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed:

    The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
    Through Painted Desserts by Donald Miller
    How to be a Gentleman by John Bridges

    And I would say the two CD’s I gave julie are awesome, which along with the Gabe Dixon Band (and yourself, of course) are my favorite local artists.

    You are obviously welcome to borrow any of them.

  29. Alissa on May 6, 2009 at 5:20 PM

    Maya Angelou’s new book: “Letter to My Daughter” is a wonderful, fast read.

    Another thought: Have you tried using to create a collage of your blog? It takes your words and then creates a visual picture of the words you use the most. I’d like to think mine would come out with LOVE, JOY, and LAUGHTER, but I fear it would show TODDLER, RUNNING, and EXHAUSTED…

  30. Alissa on May 6, 2009 at 5:24 PM

    Oops. It’s

  31. Eric on May 6, 2009 at 11:31 PM

    mind candy:
    Divine Nobodies – Jim Palmer
    Through Painted Deserts – Donald Miller
    A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving

    ear candy:
    Sigur Ros
    Sufjan Stevens
    Josh Ritter

    eye candy:
    Jeremy Cowart Photography
    old photo negatives
    the finish line in a race

  32. Andrea on May 7, 2009 at 8:08 AM

    Crank up…

    “It’s Your Life” by Francesca Battistelli.

    Andrea :)

  33. Krysten Koehn on May 11, 2009 at 12:39 AM

    Horse Feathers–beautiful music I recently discovered.

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