posted on May 3, 2023 by Sheila Roberts

Aah, Memories

Preparing to write my novel, Mermaid Beach, which is set both on the Washington Coast and in Nashville, TN, involved some research, and a trip down Memory Lane. Which, for this project, happens to be in Nashville. There’s a lot of myself in my mother-daughter-granddaughter band The Mermaids. In my younger years I played in my share of local bands, with both local celebrities and celebrity wannabes. Like The Mermaids, I was an aspiring country songwriter, and I made a lot of song demos and many a trip to Nashville, trying to peddle my songs.

It was a different city back then, truly deserving of the name Music City. Music Square was populated by small houses squeezed in between office buildings, all containing publishers and recording studios. The Country Music Hall of Fame was there as well. You could make an appointment and go in and play a song for a publisher, get a thumbs up or a polite Get Lost. Music Row was at the center of it all. It was magic. I still remember playing one of my songs for Garth Brooks’ publisher and feeling sad when he passed on it. But he passed politely and encouragingly. I met other songwriters who were helpful, people who wrote songs for the likes of George Strait. I came mouth-wateringly close to making that dream come true and I wanted desperately to move there like my two best friends. At the time I had three small children, one of them extremely handicapped, and my husband couldn’t see uprooting us all to fly off to Music City on a hope and a prayer with no job awaiting either of us. (Can you tell which one of us is the dreamer and who’s the practical one? )

I had many years of grumbling and claiming that I could have made it there. If only. To this day I still believe I could have. But that desire to make it as a songwriter had become all-consuming to the point of becoming my own little idol and, looking back, I think I realize it would have been unhealthy to keep chasing that dream. Still, Nashville has always remained my Mecca. So I was excited to go back after many years and see old friends and visit old haunts, taste the flavor of the place again so I could capture it for this latest installment in my Moonlight Harbor series.

Seeing my old friends was great. Seeing the Nashville of my past was … impossible. It’s gone. Music Square is no more. It’s condos going up and law offices and beauty salons. I was heartbroken at the sight of it. Printer’s Alley is emaciated. The Bluebird Café is still going strong, but, thanks to the popularity of the TV series Nashville, it is tourist heaven and almost impossible to get into.

Nashville has become NashVegas, with all the action taking place on Broadway. There you can find all manner of clubs and souvenir shops. It is now party city and a top destination for Bachelorette parties. Cracker Barrel is still going strong and so is The Wild Horse Saloon. I enjoyed getting to line dance there. And I made some new friends as you can see by the picture. Haha. I was able to have a book signing (thank you Barnes & Noble!) and all my old gang showed up as well as some fabulous readers. In many ways it was a great trip.

But it was also a little note from God, saying, I put you on a better path, as I heard tales of stolen songs and saw so many talented songwriters working hard and still hoping for their big break. My best friend with whom I’d written a lot of songs had gone down with high hopes and is now… pursuing other creative outlets. Dreams can and do come true, but not all of them. I still love Nashville (well except for the heat and humidity), and would love to be able to visit again. But if I don’t ever get back there, I’ll still be thankful I had that one more chance to return. It opened my eyes and let me see that I wound up doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. I may not be setting my stories to music but I’m still getting to tell stories. And in this latest one I got to make some dreams come true for my Mermaids. Not that all of them are going to end up in Nashville. They will all swim someplace special though and all end up living their best lives. Which is what I always want for my characters. And my readers! So don’t give up. If one dream doesn’t come true there’s still time to dream another.

Note: Sheila has had some songwriting fun since her Nashville Dream Days. For a sample, check out the following songs she co-wrote. And watch her get hauled off by Santa in one of them:

Sheila Roberts

Sheila Roberts

Sheila Roberts lives on a lake in the Pacific Northwest. She's happily married and has three children. She's been writing since 1989, but she did lots of things before settling in to her writing career, including owning a singing telegram company and playing in a band. Her band days are over, but she still enjoys writing songs. Sheila's books are best sellers and often appear as Reader's Digest Condensed Books. Her novel "Angel Lane" was named one of Amazon's top ten romances in 2009. Her novel "On Strike for Christmas" was a Lifetime Network movie and her novel "The Nine Lives of Christmas" is currently being made into a movie for Hallmark. When she's not speaking to women's groups or at conferences or hanging out with her girlfriends she can be found writing about those things near and dear to women's hearts: family, friends, and chocolate.

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One thought on “Aah, Memories”

  1. Amber says:

    Your music/author journey is very interesting!

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