Sing That Song Girl…

With The Brits oh, I mean The Bryts (I’m so old school…) held last night, I got to thinking about how powerful and inspiring music can be.

Music connects with me in a way not much else can… except…books!

Music reaches into my soul and shines a light into places that are often left in shadow. Maybe it evokes a memory or a feeling. It plays around with parts of me that don’t surface as often as they should.

Recently I set myself a challenge to create a soundtrack for each piece of writing I either completed myself or read. It has been an entertaining and enlightening experience! My musical taste is eclectic to say the least, and I have spent hours pondering whether a character in one of my short stories is more into rock than jazz! If truth be told I would probably want all of my characters to like jazz, but that’s a whole other blog post!

So, what pieces of wisdom did I manage to garner from my quasi experiment? Above and beyond the obvious fact that both mediums tell stories and the sheer good fun of it all?

I’ve learnt that in order to be brave you must be vulnerable. It could I suppose apply to any art form, but my drugs of choice are books and music. They are as interconnected in me as blood and DNA. They exist to compliment each other not to compete. Buried within the words of both is a truth, shared just with me. The wordsmiths have been brave. They  have laid out their vulnerability for all to see. The least I can do is try to hear and understand.

The Music of Life…

Picture the scene. I’m sitting drinking coffee (natch) in my favourite coffee house. The sun is shining, the birds are singing – all is good with the world, you get the picture. I am sitting outside, yes that’s right….. outside. For those unfamiliar with the British weather please read ‘ Brave woman, made of steel (and thermals)’.

Sitting ‘al fresco’ is no mean feat in England in May. Maybe it should become an Olympic sport – ‘how long can you sit outside freezing your bits off.. athon’. The ‘athon’ is obligatory, I’m keeping it real! I would lose dreadfully at the ‘athon’ games, no staying power you see, my body is just not designed for it. Something to do with too many fast twitch fibres, anyway, I digress. Back to the sunshine, the birds etc. All is right with the world until…… man in car, sitting in traffic, windows down, bass up and (I have to say) looking a bit too smug for my liking.

I was struck by two things simultaneously (the Hadron Collider is nothing compared to the speed my brain cells bomb towards each other) now, where was I?, ah yes, 2 things struck me. Firstly, I don’t like drum and bass (I know you are completely shocked, how can anyone not like drum and bass I hear you asking yourselves), secondly – OMG  I’m turning into old grumpy guts.  ‘Mrs Angry of Devon’ reared her head not because of this chaps very bad taste in music which, btw was exceptionally dreadful. No, it was the way his world had steamrollered mine. He was an unwelcome gatecrasher at a time when I had been transported to the magical world at my fingertips. I had wanted to own that time and the space. To have my head filled firmly with the narrative of the characters laid out before me.

I had been happily sitting topping up my dangerously low levels of vitamin D. Cup in one hand, book in the other. Then…. bam or rather, boom boom boom. I sat, giving him the evils until the lights changed and off he speed. He had not even acknowledged my death stares. He had, in fact, been caught up in his own magical world. His words however, were louder on the outside than mine. Oh the irony. Both of us had been transported by the power of words but in such completely different ways and almost certainly to completely different places. This encounter unexpectedly reminded me of a truth I had carried with me when writing All Tomorrow’s Parties.  ‘Where words fail, music speaks’. Its a quote taken from an author who was instrumental in shaping my imagination ~ Hans Christian Anderson. Throughout my writing processes I often seek inspiration from music. It helps me sometimes to think in a different way. It helps me to create different structure and pace.

So…To the man who shared his love of loud music in my world that sunny morning, I thank you. You reminded me of how inspiration has many forms, and usually comes when you least expect it. After my initial feelings of loathing subsided, I turned the other cheek and took a proverbial leaf from your book. I found my copy of Thumbelina and I too turned my music up loud…… I, however, chose to wear headphones!

Ponder this thought, another classic from the great Hans Christian Anderson:

‘Life is like a beautiful melody, only the lyrics are muddled up’