Friday, October 12, 2007

If Music Be the Food of Love...

This week at the diner, there's been a lot of talk about inspiration. Debralee found it in the books that kept her company through childhood. Talia finds in in other writers. Brenda finds it in the challenge of joining NaNoWriMo. Me, I find it lots of places. A still Autumn afternoon on the back porch. A low red moon, hanging full in the night sky. Watching Timeline for the 2,228th time to see the part where Gerry Butler takes his shirt off. Oh, um, did I say that last part out loud? Anyway, I draw my inspiration from lots of places (some prettier than others:-). But I think what I turn to most often when the well of creativity needs replenishing, the place where I can lose myself most easily, is music.

When I'm stuck in a scene and can't find my way, when I know there's a fabulous plotline lurking just beneath the surface of my imagination, close but frustratingly out of reach, or even when I just want to take some time out and connect more deeply to my characters, I always know what to do. I plug in the ipod, or I get in the car and crank up the stereo, I clear my mind, and I let my imagination go. Inevitably, during a soaring bridge or an unforgettable lyric, something wonderful and unexpected will unfurl its petals and begin to bloom. And the writer in me (which sometimes takes annoyingly long breaks while parked on a sprung old couch in the recesses of my mind, watching reality TV and eating Doritos) starts to dance all over again.

I think most of us have at least a partial soundtrack for our stories. While I was writing my book Call of the Highland Moon, for instance, there was a lot of Evanescence's album "The Open Door" going on in my universe. A little of Keane's "Under the Iron Sea," for softer moments. Muse's beautiful song "Sing for Absolution," along with Travis's "Love Will Come Through," plus a general mix of dark and brooding music suitable for all manner of love and longing populated all of my playlists from that time period. Those albums and songs got me through the rough spots, and made me feel like I was soaring when all the elements seemed to be blending seamlessly (a book is an arduous journey, but we all have our moments of euphoria, thank God). They're as much a part of my story as the writing, because they were behind so much of it. When words fail me, I can always take refuge in a song and let the words of others fill the void. And when the hair on the back of my neck rises in sheer bliss (which it sometimes does, if I'm very lucky), I'm grateful I have those chords within me to strike. Of course, it should come as no surprise that writers are often deeply attached to music...the written word, when done well, has a music all its own. It's just nice sometimes to let someone else do the composing.

So as I listen to Imogen Heap and chill, why don't you share a song or a group that inspires you in your writing? I'm all ears...and as a music junkie, always on the lookout for something new and amazing! Happy listening, and happy writing.



  1. Kendra, music is a big thing for me too. Since I write music, it is a way to directly vent emotions that stand between me and my inner writer. It can soothe or excite me in turn. I think it's so normal for writers passionate about words to love music too. It's another way to express all that craziness inside us.

  2. Music really is awesome that way, it can influence us a lot in different directions. I love almost all music.

    That image is amazingly beautiful, I truly adore it :-)

    Feeling like having some scary fun?

    Welcome to our spooktacular blog warming party today - if you dare.... *giggles*

    Everybody is welcome :-)

  3. Kendra,
    Great post! I use musical background too. When I had to write a death scene I was listening to "Into the West" and "Believe" and a number of songs which make me cry just listening to them. Knowing I had to kill someone on top of it set the mood perfectly. Even though it seemed to take forever to actually lower the boom.


  4. The "song" that most inspires me is the sound of my husband saying, "The kids and I will be back in a couple hours, and we'll bring dinner!" And then blessed silence. I guess I'm not an aural writer :)

    Jody W.

  5. I admit that I have a soundtrack for my WIP. Whenever I get stuck for emotion, I plug in the required song and BAMMO! I know what I want the reader to experience.

    I just wish (as a rule) that it was easier to use specific lyrics within an MS.


  6. I like to mix music and writing too.