Tracks….

Ok, I’m so sorry–I completely forgot last month’s post. In fact, I forgot many important things last month, so many that I started to wonder if senility begins at 40-something. The larger truth is, however, that your brain is like the “bargain brand” paper plate in the old Chinet commercial; the more you try to stack onto it, the more begins to slide off. So I made a few adjustments–one big one, actually–and hopefully my memory will return. The house is already cleaner!

Back to the subject at hand. I was going to make this a post on conducting research but, in my characteristic morning fog, I couldn’t really get a handle on it. So I did what I usually do in that situation and powered up the iPod and popped in the ear buds. Instantly, the gears started turning.

Such is the power of music.

In fact, I rarely write without it anymore. It gets my blood flowing, my emotions revved, and my thoughts churning. While (for me) walking, chores, or some kind of physical activity gets my characters talking, music gives me the pictures and emotions I need to see the scene and set the tone. I have been known to put one song on repeat for a half-hour or more because I need it to get the words down. In retrospect, it doesn’t always seem like the most appropriate music, either. Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” and MGMT’s “Electric Feel” for a 19th century reunion between two middle-aged sweethearts? But yeah. It was right.

My current WIP, which I tell people is a mystery but is probably just dark women’s fiction, was jogged into being by a song–two songs, really. I’d had the basic scenario in mind since 1995, but didn’t really know how to approach it. Every once in a while, I’d take it out and look at it; it always seemed viable, but vague. Then one afternoon in February, I was stacking laundry and picking up toys in the upstairs hallway, Pandora cranked on my phone as always, when two back-to-back songs slammed the book into reality. They were Deb Talan’s “Rocks and Water,” and Gregory Alan Isakov’s “The Stable Song.” I won’t give anything away but, between them, those songs scrambled and reformed the heroine into someone completely different than I’d imagined, and all of the story details began to fall into place around her. Even now, if I’ve had to spend a few days away, pulling up those tracks and several like them (Bon Iver, anyone?) bring her world back.

Obviously I’m not the only one who writes to music. You probably do, too, and if you check out the blogs kept by your favorite authors, you’ll probably find a few posts about songs that inspired them; some even put together particular playlists that remind them of their main characters (/www.readreactreview.com/2008/09/14/your-favorite-authors-and-her-favorite-song/). How about you? Do you write to music? What are your best writing songs? Are there songs that remind you of your favorite characters? Share in the comments!

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About leahguinn

I'm a 40-something wife, mother, and writer who blogs about Sherlockian pastiche instead of putting away the laundry. So many books! So little time!
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