Tag Archives: Aretha Franklin

Getting in the Mood…

I love music. L-O-V-E it. I’m one of those crazy people you see on the highway singing my heart out in the car or even (embarrassing)  dancing when one of my favorite songs comes on. Songs themselves are an art form. A good song tells a story and brings out some kind of emotion in about three minutes. I envy people who write songs. They are the ultimate short story writers. Harry Chapin’s Cat in the Cradle tells a beautiful but sad story in exactly three minutes and forty nine seconds. How many of us can say we have accomplished that? More than books, songs stay with us. Songs trigger a memory of a time and a place, a moment that won’t leave us. I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard Britney Spears sing. It was a Friday night and I was 13 years old sitting in the back of my mother’s blue Astro Van. My youngest brother (who will cheerfully kill me if he reads this), burst out singing, “Hit me baby one more time.”  He was only four then and just so gosh darn cute that moment burned in my memory.

Now I use music for a variety of things, to cheer me up, to soothe my soul, to get me motivated. I find  it a very good tool for writing. I listen to Adele before I have to write something emotional. Her voice is smokey and soulful, her songs are angry and depressing. Who could not be effected by a lyric that says, “Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead.”  Justin Nozuka, with his soft breathy voice and  sensual lyrics, is the perfect person to listen to before writing a love scene. Check out After Tonight and you’ll see what I mean.

When my ego needs some pumping up I listen to Keri Hilson’s Pretty Girl Rock and repeatedly sing, “Don’t hate me ’cause I’m beautiful.” When I’m slacking off I listen to Kelly Rowland’s Commander, and change the lyrics to, “I command you to write.” Silly? Yes, but it gets me going.

Fergie will always be a favorite of mine because she taught me how to spell DELICIOUS, just like Aretha Franklin taught me how to spell RESPECT and Gwen Stefani taught me how to spell BANANAS.

When I’m feeling a little down in the dumps, Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves puts a huge smile on my face. Lonely Goat Herder from the Sound of Music does the same. (Odl Lay Hee!)

Music puts us in a mood. Sometimes it inspires us (We are the Champions)  and sometimes it causes us to do strange things like the Macarena but it has had an impact on everybody and without it my world would be a less fun place.

Now it’s your turn to share. What music gets you going? What song lyric is particularly powerful for you? What artist makes you want to get up and make a fool out of yourself on the dance floor? How does music effect you? 

Just Write – The Approach

Hey, Vivienne here.  Last week I stole Nike’s tag line and said, “If you want to be a writer, then just do it.”  I thought I’d follow up with a little series of “Just Write” thoughts.

Today’s thought is on The Approach to writing.  I jealously listen to authors say, “the story just came to me” or “the characters just go where-ever they want and take over” or some other magical the-story-was-licked-onto-the-page-by-fluffy-kittens type of tripe.  Those kinds of things never happen for me. 

My experience in creating a story is more along the lines of what YA author Kady Cross said recently, “I vomit up the first draft.”  It’s ugly, it’s sweaty, it’s noisy and probably smells bad.  But that’s how I get through a first draft.  And I’m happy to be in such good company!

My mother once told me that she had no imagination at all (it’s not true, but she seems to think it is) and that if you put a blank page in front of her it would stay blank.  I couldn’t imagine that!  Give me a blank piece of paper and I’ll create a story, or draw a picture or fold it into an origami cup.  It won’t stay blank for long.  But notice I wrote, I’ll CREATE a story.  That’s ‘cause I’m an idea machine.  I have tons of ideas, I’ve just historically been bad at follow through.

However, like in any undertaking, it’s important to know yourself and to acknowledge the things you are good at and areas where you suck.  I have learned that without an outline, a road map of what comes next, I end up with a never-filled blank page.  I’ll be writing along happily and then I get stuck.  I don’t know what happens next; I don’t know what scene to write.  Procrastination begins. 

I might do some “research” also known as wasting time on the Internet.  True research usually has a specific purpose.  The other day I needed to describe a flapper dress, I went to Google images, looked at some vintage flapper dresses, wrote about an imaginary dress based on the images and moved on.  This research took all of fifteen minutes at most.  Procrastination “research” can take up weeks of trolling around purposelessly. 

Or I might decide to edit what I’ve got written so far – a potentially endless task.  Or worse, I might find myself on bigfishgames.com downloading free trial after free trial and playing video games.  How I love Diner Dash!

At any rate, I’ve learned that while some people get their stories from kitten spit, mine come from diligent outlining.  I harness the idea machine and write a several-pages-long outline of all the scenes that might/could/should/will happen in the story.  Then I rearrange them into a nice order and I write them.  That way, when I choke, I know what comes next.  I might even skip around and write the scenes out of order if I’m stuck on a boring bit.  I can always connect them later. 

I told you it wasn’t pretty.

Today’s Secret: Identify your strengths and weaknesses and use them to your advantage.  No matter what “respected” authors say (don’t we all deserve some R-E-S-P-E-C-T?!) there is no wrong way to approach your craft.  Write your story however you want, but just write it.