Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Fitting End and “Muse”ical Inspirations Part II

I’ve been away for a long while, with most of my writing energy going toward my latest novel, which, I am happy to say, I finished, and even happier to say that my publisher accepted!  I’ve spent over a year with these characters and it was only in these last few months that they really opened up and told me their story.  I like to call them my demure characters. J  Anyway, as I have finally finished, I thought I might share some of the journey and inspirations.

The idea for the novel arose when I heard “Never Tear Us Apart,” by INXS.  I was familiar with the song, of course, but hadn’t heard it in a long time and when I did again, it was like I was hearing the words for the first time.  In my mind as I heard the song, I saw two people, instantly and intensely drawn together—not love at first sight, but a connection—and then there was an outside force coming in, pulling them apart before they could properly embark on a relationship.  Nonetheless, they knew they wouldn’t be apart from each other for long.  The first eight pages came from this, as did the theme that runs throughout. 

Then, in February, I lost one of my most trusted readers, Barbara, a cousin and friend who would tell me her thoughts on my work honestly yet lovingly.  She did that with everything, and it’s something I respected her most for.  Having said that, I feel like I lost a part of my story when I lost her.  Depression can be bad for a writer (for me, anyway).  It can leave one feeling drained and numb, and thus halt creativity, and I went through a deep one when she died.  But then, a couple of months later, something happened.  I opened up this story I’d almost forgotten about, and I began reading.  And after I read what I’d first written those couple of months earlier, I automatically picked it up and started writing again, that very minute, like I hadn’t stopped at all.  I’m not sure what happened, but I like to think it was Barbara inspiring and encouraging me on with this story.  I even found myself basing a character on her. 

There is a lot of dancing in this story, though it’s not about dancers.  It’s about musicians and singers.  I’ve always been intrigued at people who work together (especially creatively) and are in a relationship as well.  And so, that is what I explored here.  But, like I said, there is dancing at two major parts of the story.  In the first part, my two characters meet and before they even say more than a few words to one another, they are drawn into a slow dance.  The song?  “Sea of Love.”  Again, I heard this one on the radio as I was writing and I took note of how the speaker asks the listener if she remembers when they first met.  Like my book, this song deals a lot with remembrance and recollections and it also addresses an instant connection between two people. 

Another song I selected is when the central character teaches her love how to dance the shag on the beach (another nod to Barbara who loved to dance the shag and loved the beach!).  There needed to be a song to go along with that, a good shagging song, and I settled on “My Girl,” by The Temptations.  Not only is a good shagging song, but it communicates what has just happened in the story.  Almost at this exact point, she has become his girl.

A song that pushed me forward when I felt a little blocked was “Mandolin Rain,” by Bruce Hornsby.  I heard it in my car one morning and again, heard the lyrics for the first time.  I became encapsulated with the speaker’s story, which Hornsby sings with just the right amount of poignancy and passion.  He has lost a woman he loves, though we don’t know exactly why.  We are only given hints in that we know she “runs away” and there was a “choice” he made that we are meant to believe led to this loss.  And as I listened to these words, I began to see parallels again in my story.  And to top it off, he describes a quiet dance the two share that closely resembled the dance my characters did near the beginning.   

The characters go through a lot of mental and emotional anguish.  Though they love one another, they hurt one another and there is no shortage of songs on that subject.  But, the ones that stayed with me and that I felt described my characters were “Silver Springs” (the live version) by Fleetwood Mac and “Hello” by Adele.  I’ve always been a fan of Fleetwood Mac and when I heard this song again, I immediately zeroed in on the truthfulness with which Stevie Nicks communicates the sentiments one feels immediately after a breakup.  Notice how she goes back and forth in her feelings (natural after a breakup) toward, as we know, is Lindsey Buckingham.  Also, the way she describes to him that he won’t forget her is lovely.  What’s even more powerful is the live version they did of this song on their album The Dance.  Watch it on Youtube if possible!

I damn near cried the first time I heard Adele’s “Hello.”  Against the backdrop of a phone call (or an almost phone call) to a former love, she confesses her regret, mistakes, and the love she still feels for him despite it all.  Her voice in the chorus is almost a lift, high and away as she is nearly filled with hope and then brought deep down when she realizes it’s too late to continue their love, but not make things right.  I heard it, and I had the last scene of my novel.

And so, there it is—the inspirations and motivations that helped me see and feel what my characters were going through.  I finished editing it last week.  And, what song did I randomly hear on the radio the day I finished editing?  You guessed it: “Never Tear Us Apart.”  A fitting end, indeed! 


  1. A great post. My first book will be published in late spring and getting it done was all about moments of inspiration and hours of butt-in-the-chair, fingers on the keyboard trying to capture those muse-moments. Kudos for finding your process. Keep listening and writing!

  2. A great post. My first book will be published in late spring and getting it done was all about moments of inspiration and hours of butt-in-the-chair, fingers on the keyboard trying to capture those muse-moments. Kudos for finding your process. Keep listening and writing!