April 17, 2011

music as inspiration

Music is important to me. It plays a large part in my daily life.

It was a central element since I was born. My dad has been a percussionist for more than 40 years, and as a child I spent every Sunday evening at the Antelope Park band shell watching him and the rest of the Lincoln Municipal Band play. Throughout the years, I've attended countless concerts ranging from the Houston Symphony to REO Speedwagon. Dad loves music, and we listened to a lot of it.

I was heavily involved in it during my childhood. In high school, I sang in choir and played oboe in orchestra and wind ensemble. As the occasion called for it, I also played alto saxophone, English horn, marching cymbals, mallet percussion and piano. For a while, I thought my life calling was to be a musical therapist or band teacher.

Before "Glee" or any of the "High School Musical" movies gained popularity, I often told my friends how much I wished we could just break out into song while walking through the halls. I still sometimes wish I was a character in a musical. There are enough situations that I'd rather have out with a well-timed song number than by finding the correct words in a conversation.

As a writer, music is an integral part of the process. I make playlists or choose CDs based on where I am in a story. I draw inspiration from the music to set a scene or mood. Some songs have even inspired future projects for me.

While writing this first novel, which is almost done with it's second round of revisions, I listened to a lot of country music. The story is set mostly in the south and it seemed fitting.

I also listened to a lot of Kelly Clarkson. It was while driving through Louisiana listening to her then-new album, "All I Ever Wanted," I came up with this first novel's title and the general basis for the plot.

For nostalgia's sake, I decided to pop in that same CD while I wrote final scene of the novel. It fit the mood well.

Without planning it, it just worked out this way, I wrote the last line of my first draft as the last song on the CD came to an end. My fingers stopped moving and the lingering notes ended. I sat in silence looking at the screen. It gave me chills, then, and still does when I remember it.

It's like it was how it was supposed to happen. It somehow made the moment even more wonderful and special. The story began and ended with Kelly.

I love bookends almost as much as I love music.

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