I’ve been feeling stuck in the revisions of my novel. The second half of the book feels shallow, partly because I’ve been too scared to go all the way to my core to bring out the story that’s buried there. It’s like a fossil that’s only partially revealed.
There’s one scene that has me particularly stuck. I tried coming at it from several angles: her point of view, his point of view, with a kiss, without a kiss. Each version felt mostly true but something was missing. Soul. Passion. Depth. Gravitas. Mess. I’ve been trying to keep the mess off the page, even though real life is messy and love certainly is one of the messiest ventures I’ve ever undertaken.
I decided to put aside the question of whether I have the chops to pull this off– that whole line of inquiry has been tabled. Maybe (hopefully?) forever.
But the question that has consumed me was what did I need to go deeper?
Alas, there were two things that brought me closer to the bone. One of them involves a therapy session which will be the subject of another post when I have the guts to tell you about. In the meantime, let’s talk about the other road to depth.
I made a mix tape. For my characters. It’s the soundtrack of my book. I tried to find help in those plot books, but they scared me so badly I never cracked them open. Ever.
But music? Music hits me on a cellular level– hell, way down into my double helix. Maybe I just needed another art form to help me access something for my book. Nothing whips me to butter like a great song.
Now when I write, I play the songs that evokes the emotion for that moment. Over and over.
Since it’s a love story, it’s not hard to find songs for the trajectory of the story. Extra bonus: if it ever becomes a major motion picture, I’ve got the soundtrack already worked out.
Here’s the playlist–
Dogs in the Yard, Fame Soundtrack
Something in the Way She Moves, James Taylor
Then Came Lo Mein, Robert Earl Keen & Margo Timmins
You’re Still Standing There, Lucinda Williams & Steve Earle
Bullet & A Target, Citizen Cope
Missing you, Chicago
Anything Could Happen, Elllie Goulding
Sleeping To Dream, Jason Mraz
Bleed to Love Her, Fleetwood Mac
Both Hands, Ani DiFranco
Selfless, Cold, & Composed, Ben Folds Five
Til It Shines, Keb Mo & Lyle Lovett
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Roberta Flack
Now, I crank up the tunes, get into my guts and out of my chattery, obstructionist brain, and I let it rip.
Something tells me that if I am willing to slow down and let the excavation take place– shovel full by shovel full– I may end up with a story that I love and will stand behind no matter what happens.
Inspiration. I’ll take it wherever it comes and today it comes via earbud and iPod.