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Monday, February 22, 2010


Have you ever had a particularly rotten day, or had something really bad happen to you, and suddenly stumbled across the most meaningful quote, or turned on the radio just in time to hear the perfect song? Something that maybe doesn't fix your bad day, but puts one bright moment into it?
This has happened to me on several occasions. Most of them have to do with music. Once I was trying to get over a particularly bad crush on a guy I knew (yeah, yeah, I know, it's typical teenager-y stuff. Stupid hormones). The guy in quesiton was very cocky and full of himself, and I knew he wasn't for me, but I was still in the process of moving on. And one day, while I was listening to Pandora radio, I came across these lyrics:
"Bye bye love, I'll catch you later
Got a lead foot down on my accelerator and the rearview mirror torn off
'Cause I ain't never lookin' back, and that's a fact.
I've tried all I can imagine
I've begged and pleaded in true lover's fashion
I've got pride, I'm takin' it for a ride
Bye bye, bye bye my baby, bye bye."
A bit overdramatic, perhaps, but the song totally cheered me up. It was as if the universe had whispered in my ear that I'd done the wrong thing, that there were other fish in the sea, and that it understood.
Another time, riding home in the car and fretting about opening night for a show I was in, I turned my radio to 98.3 FM (Disney channel, lol...I told you before I have eclectic tastes in music) and caught a snippet of a Miley Cyrus* song:
"So I put my hands up
They're playing my song,
And the butterflies fly away
Noddin' my head like yeah
Moving my hips like yeah,
And I got my hands up,
They're playin my song
I know I'm gonna be ok
Yeah, It's a party in the USA!"
And I felt better. I felt encouraged. Maybe it's all in my head, but as a wonderful literary character I'm sure you all know once said, "Of cousre it's all in your head, but why on earth should that mean it isn't real?"
Remember how, in my last blog post, I mentioned that my writing soundtracks are sometimes incomplete until midway through the writing process? Well, one of my OTHER novels--one of the two I said were un-soundtracked as yet--has been untangling itself since then. I've got a good portion of the plot mapped out, a few chapters written, and I know the characters WAY better than I did before. So, naturally...I soundtracked it.
This novel is totally different from anything I've ever written before. It's first-person (meaning I write "I did such-and-such" rather than "she did such-and-such") which I've never tackled before. It's dark. It's spooky. It's futuristic-y. And I only have three main characters, but those three characters are three of the darkest and deepest characters I've ever been introduced to in my time as a writer.
So I spent a lot more time on the soundtrack than I have with my other novels (which are still progressing, just on the back burner.) I made sure each of my main characters had at least two songs. Yet one of the characters (my favorite one, although I suppose I shouldn't play favorites) eluded me. I had a couple of songs that fit certain facets of his personality, but not him as a whole. After tinkering around for awhile, I decided to leave well enough alone for the time being, officialized the rest of the soundtrack, and moved on with my writing.
Then, a few days later, I rewatched the Disney version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I hadn't seen it for several years, and I wanted to reacquaint myself with it. I didn't remember much about it, anyway.
The instant the song "Out There" came on, I sat straight up in my seat. This was it. The song. It had found me. The more I listened to it, the more perfect it became. And before the movie was over, I'd whipped out my iPhone and purchased the song from iTunes. Thank you, internet.
What's my point in all of this? Hmm...maybe that, if you're patient, the object you're seeking will often find you on its own? Maybe I'm using this event as proof that my characters really do exist in some alternate universe and are trying to communicate with me? (I remember reading a book one time that stated blandly that, "It's okay--authors are allowed to hear voices in their heads.") Maybe I just thought it was a really cool occurrence and I wanted to share it? Who knows.
In any case, if you're interested, here is the completed soundtrack for this novel. And just so you know, I had the song God Help the Outcasts way before I rewatched the movie. That was totally a coincidence...weird, huh?
The novel itself: "God Help the Outcasts" from the Hunchback of Notre Dame
The narrator/main character: "Bigger than Us" by Hannah Montana*, "I Stand" by Idina Menzel
The caring but solitary love-interest: "Out There" from the Hunchback of Notre Dame, "These Hands" from Frankenstein the musical, "I Stand All Alone" from Quest for Camelot, "Getting Better" by the Beatles
The vulnerable and immature brother: "No More" from Into the Woods, "Nowhere Man" by the Beatles
The love theme: "These Days" by Rascal Flatts

*Please, all you anti-Hannah Montana peoples, don't kill me! I can't help it if her songs are catchy!