Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Turn. That. Music. Up??

Don’t worry. I’ll find you. I smile down at my work in progress, one-third of the story written while the rest still hovers somewhere above my head. For me, writing is a completely organic process. I’m not a plotter, at least not in the strictest sense. Oh sure, I try to jot down where I plan to go with my stories, but when I do I always wonder, Why are you doing this, again? You know it’s going to change the split second your fingers hit the keyboard.

Character development, on the other hand, is a completely a different story. I do invest a fair amount of time in that process. In my opinion, it’s kind of like meeting someone unexpected at a party, someone you instantly click with. Once we’ve been properly introduced, I pull up a chair, lean in, and listen intently to everything they have to say…about themselves, their lives, their sorrows and joys. Of course, I always ask if it’s okay if I take notes, LOL!

I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but I approach writing the same way I do reading. I don’t want to know what’s going to happen…until it happens. I love surprises! Don’t ask me what I want for Christmas or my birthday. Surprise me! Yes, I’m a pantser, through and through. I write from the seat of my pants, and I like it that way. I’m sure it looks different to different people, but for me being a pantser is a wonderful thing. It's a process that involves each and every one of my senses, but most prominently…my sense of hearing.

I check the lower right-hand corner of my computer. It’s 11:20 PM. I’ve just finished Chapter six and I can’t wait to start Chapter seven—but not quite yet. I dim the lights, sit back, and pop in my earbuds, the heart wrenching strains of Christina Perri’s Jar of Hearts occupying the space between my ears. Sometimes melodic, sometimes dissonant, music always plays a crucial role in my creative process. An hour from now, it might be the sweet melodic lamentation of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Tomorrow? The Bravery, Evanescense, Civil Twillight…you get the idea. I even go as far as creating playlists for each of my stories and each of my characters. If I know I need to write an emotionally charged scene, I search for a song that fits the pain, anger, or fear, download it to my iPod, then set it for repeat. I might listen to the same song for hours on end, after a while no longer even hearing the words. I internalize the emotional output, and before I know it, I have my scene. It’s a beautiful thing.

Perhaps it comes from my musical background. In my first life (a.k.a., pre-marriage/children) I used to sing semi-professionally. In high school, it was a rock band. In my early twenties? Classical/opera. What can I say? (shoulder shrug) I’m a Gemini. (shakes head) Boy, am I a Gemini! I don’t sing professionally anymore, unless those daily performances in my car count! But the love of music is still there, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon, just as I don’t see my writing process changing. Sure, there’s a part of me that envies “the plotter”. They’re always so darn organized. They always know exactly where they’re going. But not me. I’m the one with a pair of earbuds stuffed in my ears, searching the four corners of my room for my next scene…and the perfect soundtrack to accompany it.

“And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she says as she cranks up the music.