I Didn’t Choose To Fall In Love With Music, Music First Chose Me…

Image of Natalie Welsh, founder of the Syncopation Literary Journal, as a child.

By Natalie Welsh

Actress Ingrid Bergman once stated, “I didn’t choose acting. Acting chose me.” I have always been drawn to music and to anyone and anything that produces these heavenly sounds. 

When I was in middle school, social anxiety prevented me from joining the school band. After a failed audition on a borrowed clarinet, my school’s music teacher shook his snowy head and said, “I’m sorry. You just aren’t cut out for this.” Around this time, my mother suggested that since I was an avid reader, I should start writing my own stories. Writing tales about spirited young girls in historical settings eased some of the pain caused by not joining the school band, but music still tugged at me. I convinced my parents to buy me a guitar and to sign me up for lessons.

High school drama classes helped to remedy my fear of public performances and I sometimes read my short stories aloud for my classmates. On weekends, I liked to meet with other young people to sing and jam with our instruments, sometimes sharing the lyrics we wrote. After university, New Sociology: Journal of Critical Praxis took a chance on an unknown creative and published my short story entitled “The Factory Women,” about Italian immigrants in 1960s Toronto. After this first publication, I began to think of myself as an artist—a musician and a writer, but I longed to meet other musicians who wrote prose. I decided to start my own literary journal.

On August 2nd, 2021, I launched Syncopation Literary Journal, a non-profit online publication that features music-related poetry, creative nonfiction, flash fiction, and short stories. The first issue was published on January 1st, 2022. “Syncopation” refers to an accented beat that occurs when the listener least expects it. This adds interest to a piece of music. When reading submissions, I look for writing that piques a reader’s interest from the opening line.

The cover of Vol 2, Issue 1, Syncopation Literary Journal, founded by Natalie Welsh

Syncopation Literary Journal has become a meeting place for a diverse set of readers, musicians, and writers. The inaugural issue features an excerpt from Peacekeeper’s Daughter (Thistledown Press, 2021), a memoir penned by Quebecois author Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt. This issue also contains the short story Natural Causes by Naomi Bess Leimsider, in which a Jewish American woman returns home after twenty years on the road with her musician boyfriend. The poems and stories published in Syncopation are inspired by various genres and styles of music including folk, country, and jazz. Matthew Johnson’s poetic contributions to Volume 2, Issue 2 include tributes to hip hop and to Otis Redding.

Syncopation Literary Journal has connected me with countless musicians, writers, and readers, and some have become friends. As Founding Editor of Syncopation, I would never tell another creative that they were not meant to be a writer. If writing has chosen them, they are a writer. There is always room for improvement and growth in our craft. 

Syncopation Literary Journal has allowed me to amalgamate my passions for music and literature. I am grateful that music chose me. I’m also glad that I chose to dabble in writing. We all have a story to tell. Don’t ever let anyone convince you that you weren’t meant to tell yours…

A Call for Submissions for Volume 2, Issue 3 opened on February 18th, 2023, with the theme “When You Dance.” I can’t wait to read everyone’s submissions. Please follow THIS link to submit today! You can also follow Syncopation Literary Journal online and on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Natalie Welsh is Founding Editor of Syncopation Literary Journal. She studied Anthropology and Humanities at York University. She lives in Toronto where she reads, edits, and plays music.

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