Music is important to my writing process, and I usually end up with a collection of songs for most of my stories, long and short. When I’m starting to write, especially a novel, I like to have a song that sets the emotional atmosphere. It’s exciting when I find it—that perfect collection of words and melody and rhythm to capture the energy. I add to the soundtrack as I go, finding a song for a character or a particular place, but that first one remains important, a touchstone. I will go back to it again and again.
This is all to say that I’ve found that song for my next work-in-progress. I’m in love with it—playing it over and over, trying out the words when I’m alone in the car, rereading the lyrics when I take break from writing. The song, “Blood and Bone,” is a by Alt-folk musician Hayley Jane, who currently has a kickstarter campaign to produce her next album. It’s the only song I’ve heard so far, but I was intrigued enough to become a backer. Her campaign is nearly funded after only the first few days, and no matter what else the album holds, I’m grateful for this gem.
I listened to “Blood and Bone“ all morning and on the way to a writing day at Mary Anne Mohanraj’s beautiful Victorian home. Quietly typing away on our laptops atop bellies full of Mary Anne’s always amazing cooking, Mary Robinette Kowal, Kat Tanaka Okopnik, Julie Chyna, Mary Anne, and I spent a few hours writing.
To my delight, “Blood and Bone” had made its way into my imagination, into my creative DNA. When I sat down to work on my opening scene, there it was—a musical-emotional undertow pulling me along, plunging me deeper. I wrote the scene quickly before having to leave to pick the kids up from school, the character and setting still fresh in my mind on the drive home.
I love those moments, when the Muse is in control, when the story washes over me and onto the page in waves. It’s not always like that, but when it is, oh it’s magic! And any day with magic is a very good day, especially on a snowy November Monday in Chicago.
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