Thursday, February 03, 2005

You're My Inspiration

I can't tell you how relieved I was to learn that I'm not the only writer who actually has soundtracks for her WIPs. I really was beginning to think I'd gotten into my stories a little too much. I mean, when you start casting actors to play your hero and heroine (honest, that file of images I have on my desktop is for reference purposes) and thinking of which songs will be running in the background during key moments, you've got to wonder where the boat of sanity went around the wrong bend.

Music is by far my biggest inspiration. I can be strolling through the grocery store, minding my own business, when a song comes pouring out the overhead speakers (thankfully my grocery store abhors Muzak) and I'll be clutched with this overwhelming sensation of absolute rightness. I'll see things about a story so clearly that it's all I can do not to sit down in the aisle between the boxes of pasta and jars of spaghetti sauce, whip out my battered notebook and scribble away.

It works on multiple levels for me. Sometimes a song will make me think of a specific character. Several months ago I was waiting in the check-out line when the song "Wildfire" - an oldie but a tear-jerker from my youth - inspired a fully-formed, three-dimensional man to pop out of my brain. Well, not actually pop out of my brain...but you get the idea. He became the hero of my next masterpiece, and now every time I need him to appear, I just pull the song off my laptop and he's standing there in front of me. I assign every character a theme song which, by either the lyrics or the overall tone, represents the person I imagine.

Music also puts me in the right mood to write. I have songs that make me feel every emotion - ones I use when need to write about rage (Evanesence's "Bring Me to Life" works well for me), ones for imagining a poignant, heart-breaking love scene (right now I've been going with Delerium's "Silence") and ones that make my heart ache with longing so I can imagine how lovers separated will do anything to be together again (Rod Stewart's "Broken Arrow" epitomizes this for me - the lines ...I'll get to you if I have to crawl, they can't hold me with these iron walls... pretty much chokes me up every time). No matter where I need to be mentally and emotionally, I can manufacture it by creating the exact playlist for the specific job.

The beauty of today's technology means I can get practically any song I need. I don't have to buy the entire Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction CD just so I can have "Sweet Child of Mine" (the only GNR song I like). Not to mention the software like iTunes and Media Player that lets you make playlists. With a few clicks of the mouse you get a custom made soundtrack to run behind the words on the screen better than any movie soundtrack CD you could find at Best Buy.

I don't know what our predecessors did, having to actually change the LP or cassette tape or CD simply to get the songs they wanted to hear.

Gosh, that prospect is almost as shudder-inducing as having to write with a pen on paper and use a typewriter to get a final manuscript ready to send out. How archaic!

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