No, I haven’t suddenly become blessed with musical ability. I still sing like a duck getting a mammogram, and the only instrument I’ve mastered is, well, private. This pool of word vomit is about the music you hear when you write.
Years ago, when I first attempted to write a novel, I had no music in my head, no writing soundtrack. And I stalled completely. Epic failure. I’ve blamed it on my fear of success, but maybe it was just the silence between my ears.
When I picked up that manuscript again this past summer, seven years later, all I could hear was the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Their sound and their lyrics fit so perfectly with what the story was morphing into that I started playing their CDs (very loudly) while I wrote. I played them in my car, while I did housework, in my head while I lay in my bed trying desperately to sleep while music and scenes and dialog raced through my brain. I immersed myself in Chili Pepper magik (that’s not exactly a hardship, now is it?).
Under the Bridge, Breaking the Girl, Give it Away, Universally Speaking, Otherside, My Friends, and to some extent even Scar Tissue (well, the title and the blood-loss part). Perfect fits for individual scenes and for the overall feel of the story. It seemed that once I got that sound attached to my words, my characters, their lives – the story just poured out of my fingertips. I went from 70 pages of crap to 215 pages of a novel I am proud of, all in fewer than five months.
Thank you RHCP! I always knew you rocked my real world, but now you rock my imaginary one too.
I’m moving on to another story, something almost completely different (except for the love story part. And an orphan. And a farm girl. But honest, completely different). It’s the fictionalized tale of my parents’ lives together. What do I hear in my head now? Nat King Cole, Glenn Miller, Bing Crosby. And of course, Elvis Presley.
What is your writing soundtrack? Is it always the same or does it change? Or do you prefer the sound of Carthusian monks?