I’ve mentioned before that I write to music. It’s part of my writing routine — I check my email, look at my social networking sites, make a cup of tea, and slip on my headphones, and then I’m ready to write. Sometimes I have a particular playlist for the current work in progress (WIP), but usually I just set my iTunes to randomly play from my music library and let the music flow.
When I’m into the story, I hardly notice the songs playing in my ears. I find myself humming along sometimes without even realizing what song is playing. Sometimes I’ll look at the list to see what songs I missed while I was too deeply into the story to pay attention to the music. It’s simply background for me, a way of putting myself into the creative zone.
Apparently, I’m more aware of the music than I sometimes realize. While I was writing yesterday afternoon, I suddenly found myself feeling very sad. Almost tearfully sad, which was odd because the scene I was writing wasn’t sad at all. I was actually quite satisfied with the way it was progressing. So what, I wondered, was triggering my depression?
I realized that the song I was hearing was Diamond Rio’s “You’re Gone.” I like that song, but it is rather sad. Just for curiosity, I glanced at the list to see the songs that had played before that one. And I began to laugh. These songs had played back-to-back without my full awareness of what I was hearing:
James Blunt’s “Carry You Home.” (listening to your heart beating for the last time)
David Cook’s “Permanent” ( a beautiful song written for his dying brother)
Lifehouse’s “From Where You Are” (one of my favorite songs, but it’s about missing someone who has died)
Diamond Rio’s “You’re Gone.”
No wonder I was so sad! As much as I love all those songs, that’s like the most depressing playlist ever. Without realizing it, I had been internalizing those sad songs while I was writing. I quickly made a playlist of as many happy songs as I could find in my library and spent the rest of the afternoon listening to that!
Music is so powerful, and the poetry of the lyrics can have such an impact on the listener. I’m a huge fan of those singers and songwriters who can evoke such strong emotions with their words and/or their voices. I strive to achieve that same result with the words I choose for my stories. Sometimes I want the reader to smile or laugh; other times I deliberately try to make the reader sad for my characters’ troubles — but I always write a happy ending to leave the reader uplifted and encouraged.
I’ll listen to my sad songs again. But maybe I’ll be a little more careful to intersperse them with some happy tunes in the future.
Happy Father’s Day to any dads who might be reading this — especially my own Daddy!
Don’t forget to enter the contest for the free book giveaway (for details, click the giveaway tab above). I’ll be drawing on July 1.