Friday, August 19, 2011

Random socks, coffee, chocolate, and screaming metal? Seriously?! Seriously.

                I’d like to say the reason it’s taken me so long to follow up on my last blog is because I’ve been knee deep in peach cobbler. Mmmmmmmmmm. (Cue dream sequence music—record scratch) Ha, ha, ha, ha. Uhhhh, no. Actually, what I have been “knee deep” in is the creation of my second novel. I’m in the process of writing the first draft which means I’ve been eating everything in sight—minus the peach cobbler, of course, because ... well ... when would I have time to bake any? No, I’ve had to resort to eating my “other” snacks of choice: Wheat Thins, Butterfinger candy bars, brownies, strawberry milkshakes. Why??? Because that’s what I do when I write. Especially first drafts. It’s all part of the process.

                So what is my process? Well, it looks and soundsyes, “sounds” … a bit like this. From sunup to sundown, I’m “Mommy” to two precious little boys. They keep me moving. Everywhere. And at high rates of speed. In between refereeing their minute-by-minute disputes, I try to get to know my characters better. This usually happens when I’m folding clothes, whites to be specific. There’s just something about all those mismatched socks. Some of my best ideas are wrapped up in those buggers. The frustrating part is that I can’t do a darn thing with any of those wonderful ideas, those epiphanies, until approximately 10 PM later that night when both of my boys are tucked in for the evening or at least until one of them has to go to the bathroom.
               That’s when I bring a piping hot cup of coffee up to my office, plunk myself down in front of my computer, and crank up my iPod. Yes, I write to exceedingly loud music during first drafts. Music is my muse, or at least one of them and the emotions I pull from the music I listen to helps me get into the right headspace when writing difficult scenes. I always have a “soundtrack” that I write to. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t even begin to start working on novel two until I found a suitable collection of songs to accompany it.
I listen to everything from classical and opera, to screaming metal and alternative music. I know, (sighs), the screaming metal usually throws everyone off. Just being honest, folks. Actually, (suppresses a laugh) I remember a point during the writing of Courting the Flame when I was struggling with a very difficult scene. Gracie, my leading lady, was beyond upset about something, and I needed to feel her anger in order to do the scene justice. So I turned to music. Yup, I drug my 82-year-old mother along for the ride. We went to the nearest department store and I purchased a CD. Don’t look at me that way; stores still sold CD’s at that point. And I knew exactly which one I needed, too. I’d heard I’m So Sick from Flyleaf a million times on Sirius XM. Salivating like a child with an unwrapped present set before them, I ripped off the cellophane and slammed that puppy into my car's CD player. My poor mother’s eyes bugged out of her head. With a look of panic she shouted, “How in the world are you going to write with that stuff screaming in your ears?!” I politely hollered back, “Ohhhhh, but it’s perfect, Mom. Just perfect.” And it was. Emotionally, Lacey Mosley’s anger level was exactly where I needed to be.
Later that night when my kiddos went to bed, I slid into my normal routine of coffee and Wheat Thins, but on this particular evening I had a guest, Lacey Mosley’s voice screaming “I’m so sick” over and over again in my head. Maybe the reason this process works so well for me is because I’m not only a writer but I’m also a singer, same diverse background … opera to rock. Maybe it’s because I’m hypersensitive to people’s emotions. Maybe it’s just because the song rocks. For me, it doesn’t really matter why it works. I’m just happy that it does. And I’m absolutely positive that when Courting the Flame is published in June, 2012, my future readers will be, too.
Here is just a sampling of the songs that have/still do inspire me while writing. They may not be your style of music, but they work for me.