Monday, February 29, 2016

The Voices in My head!

I cannot speak for others who write, but I find that the fictional world I step into every day leaves me more than a little schizophrenic. To have room in my head for all the characters in a book, I have to park a huge part of me on a shelf, otherwise the results can be wonky, there just isn’t enough room in there for all of us. I live in Seattle, and after thirty-days of dark gray skies and buckets of rain, the characters in my book start fighting with each other or going on extravagant vacations they cannot afford. This rarely manifests itself in reality, but to be honest, I have been known to impulsively buy summer sandals in the middle of February (and it doesn’t quit raining for another five months). 

I have a theory. When you write contemporary fiction, escaping from your real life to enter another possibility of real life is a massive emotional undertaking. I haven’t written historical, sci-fi, paranormal, or non-fiction, so I have to be careful what I say here. I believe, for myself, leaping into a world that is largely constructed of mythical creatures in alternative universes might be more challenging conceptually, but the ability to separate yourself must be easier, emotionally. I think there is a level of emotional abstraction one can take when writing about shape-shifters, failed Mars missions, or lusting after an Earl (and you are a lowly kitchen maid) than one can take when writing about an issue in current era to someone who could live next door. (Which leaves me thinking there might be an interesting story developing right under my nose.)

It might be interesting to note, at this point, that I am writing this the day after completing a book. One might think I would be doing all kinds of things – communing with nature, cleaning my house (which is much needed), or making contact with actual, real people. But no. I am writing. The impulse to put words to paper doesn’t end simply because you type,

Actually, I never type that.

Okay. I typed that yesterday, but only so that I could take a screen shot and post it on Facebook. Then I deleted it. Just bein’ honest.

My Dream Team is always requesting that I blog more often, and I have to confess, I find it really hard to blog when I am writing. I know. It sounds funny. How hard can it be? Well, if you have read my blog, you will have undoubtedly witnessed my schizophrenic nature. One blog might be about lingerie, while another could be about my revelations while sitting in my therapist’s office. I find that my blogs also have to stay in character.

I am about to write a moody book. Consider yourself forewarned.

Speaking of revelations, in the book I just finished, there is a chapter entitled, Bras and Other Revelations. I have to admit, I am proud of that. Revealing one’s bra can be as terrifying as revealing inner turmoil. My mind doesn’t really allow for coincidence. I am a big believer in introspection and if you think (or type) long enough, you’ll find the connection between things. For example, if you are a believer in introspection, and you are writing a blog in your downtime about how you feel about writing and blogging, it is a no brainer to remember you’ve written a chapter called Bras and Other Revelations. – It is important for me to note that this paragraph seems a bit superfluous, but I like it, so I am leaving it in.

Onto my final revelation for this blog. I tweet, post, and blog regularly about how music influences me. You may have noticed that authors are now publishing their playlists with their books. If you looked at my playlist for my recent accomplishment, you would see everything from Shostakovich to Christina Perry. (Keeping my schizophrenic state in motion.)

I live in awe of musicians of all types. I was talking to a friend who is infinitely more schooled in the world of music than I am (this means, I sing along tunelessly and he is accomplished enough to play variations of a piece of classical music on an actual instrument) and I expressed my belief that writing music that moves someone emotionally is far more complicated than many other art forms. A typical pop song last about three minutes, has about 1,000 words, and has to tell a riveting story that makes people want to hear it again and again. Other genres of music engage us for longer periods of time, such as the concerto I am currently listening to (Paganini, "Violin Concerto No 3," Alexandre Dubach) which is thirty-seven minutes long. (In case you are wondering, he didn’t write any lyrics, that I know of.)

Here I am, in the final paragraph (or so) of this blog and I am finally arriving at what is on my mind. Kelly Clarkson and her performance on American Idol of her new song, Piece by Piece. This song shredded me, cut me to the quick, tore at my soul. She wrote the song, essentially an autobiography, after the birth of her daughter, about her father abandoning her. She writes about her husband, who has helped her put herself back together and the faith she has in him to be a committed parent and partner. She does all this beautifully in three minutes and forty-three seconds. Granted, there is only descriptive narrative, but it more than makes up for the lack of dialog.

To bare your soul to the world that way, to place your pain and insecurities in the hands of strangers, to put your faith in someone else so completely – well, it’s heartbreaking and breathtaking. To watch the author of the lyrics, get caught up in her emotional experience, to see her lost in painful memories, while singing beautifully… that is brave. I have transcribed brutal moments from my life into my writing, and have cried painfully while doing so, but I have always done this alone. These singer/songwriter/musical folks – they have a degree of bravery most of us cannot imagine.

And so, off the Kentucky I go, in search of Moonbows.

Thanks for reading.