I listen to music often. I’m not a huge fan of broadcast television, because I don’t like advertising, so whenever I’m awake and not reading a book or watching commercial free PBS or streaming service stuff, I’m listening to music. I listen when I write fiction. Almost constantly. Sometimes what I’m listening to influences what I’m writing in sort of a subconscious way, but other times, I seek out music to help move my writing along because I know what I want to say…it’s all there in my head in pictures…but I need some assistance to get the words to paper.
I’ve written before how I see in pictures and metaphors and not really in words, and I’ve written before how I admire songwriters’ ways with words; how they can express some really complex thoughts and detailed stories with only a few hundred words in a 3-6 minute song. So sometimes, when I’m stuck, I’ll search for ‘song sung by a woman that expresses <feeling>…’ or something and listen to some results until something clicks.
I did that a lot with my latest book.
And in doing so, I experienced a lot of discovery of new music (and writers) and rediscovery of music (and writers) I’ve loved for decades.
I know there are folks out there who read my fiction who enjoy seeing the soundtrack that plays in the movie in my head when I write the stories I create. And sometimes, when I finish writing a story, I’m not ready to let it go and move on to something new immediately. I’m still spending time with the characters and the story I just released. So the next couple of posts are going to be about discovery and rediscovery of some music and songwriters that helped me get Hard Science and Modern Art out for NaNoWriMo, and how that music inspired/moved parts of the story along and sometimes how it ties into my own life.
So today…I’ll start with rediscovery and Fiona Apple.
She’s a tiny woman with a GREAT BIG voice. And I loved her when I graduated high school and all through college. Her lyrics are poetic and her voice is so powerful even though she is so tiny. That photo of her was taken by Joe McNally, at her request, because she’d always been photographed as this ethereal, fragile waif, but that’s not who she is and it’s not what her songs say and it’s definitely not how her voice sounds.
I hadn’t listened to her for years, because she’s a little dark and brooding, but I needed some of that for Deanna writing this sequel, and I’m glad I rediscovered her.
(Potential spoilers of my latest book release ahead: proceed with caution).
When Deanna’s relationship with Jake is in a state of evolution at the beginning of the novel, I was inspired by this song.
Deanna has a finely tuned intuition and sense of the future that’s nearly predictive, and that’s kinda like me. Sometimes (ok…a lot of the time)…I feel like I can see where things are headed with people I’m close to. Sometimes (ok…rarely)…I share this with those people. Like Deanna with Jake, I have this eerie foretelling ability and I’ve found that when I share that with the people I care about when it concerns them, they are almost always prone to argue with me out of good intention.
“You’ll say you understand…but you don’t understand…”
So I normally keep all those feelings to myself. I keep a lot of myself to myself. I’ve written about this a lot, and I even wrote a post about Deanna doing that to promote the prequel to this latest book, The Transition Piece.
“You’ll never hear…this message I give…”
As willing and eager as Jake is to make things work with Deanna, she knows it’s not the best thing for either of them; she knows it’s not right. She knows that while they love each other very much and have enough in common to ‘make it work,’ that he (and maybe both of them) could have (and deserve) more. They’re too different to be each other’s optimal partner. She feels like no matter how much explaining she does and no matter how much he’s willing to sacrifice of himself for her, they aren’t meant to be together, and she can’t allow him to forfeit any more of himself, and he’ll never really know her the way someone with a more similar history and similar future could (because like it or not; a person’s history and future are connected). And I think that song sort of says that.
I’ve never had a romantic entanglement that led to close friendship in my life, but I have had that overwhelming foreboding that a person in my life whom I care about a great deal isn’t meant to be permanent, or at least not permanent in our relationship’s current form. Which creates anxiety almost always. Even when I know it’s better for me (and usually also for them) if the relationship changes or ends. I like soft landings, and I normally try to give people soft landings…real and fictional people.
And then in part II of the new book, when Deanna meets Bobby (again…she rediscovers him, really), this song became more fitting. Because she didn’t have to explain anything to him; their history was shared. It was easier to share a future.
“Though dreams can be deceiving
Like faces are to hearts
They serve as sweet relieving
When fantasy and reality lie too far apart
So I stretch myself across like a bridge
And I pull you to the edge
And stand there waiting…
Trying to attain the end to satisfy the story…”
Deanna could pull Bobby to the edge and let him see her. Because he already knew some things…he didn’t have to have so much of her explained. Not as much as Jake…not as much as Chad. And of course that song is laden with allusions to the history two people have together and share.
Hope that wasn’t too revealing to plot, and I guess if you’re interested, stay tuned for the next couple of posts. They’ll be about these characters/this new book/allude to the prequel of this book and about the music that helped me write them.