When I see someone with IPOD tucked in a pocket or strapped to his arm, part of me wonders why he isn’t writing. Music is my muse. I don’t know if I should blame it on the high school typing teacher. He had us type to music so that we would create a rhythm to our keystrokes. Typically, my digits tangled over each other as they tried to keep up. Despite that initial clumsiness, I did master the keyboard.
As a journalist, the ticking of the clock drove my writing. Deadlines! Fiction writing brought its own challenges. How could I really block out the world and step into the scene I was creating? No IPODS then. I did have a CD player with clunky earphones. I tried a selection of favorite performers but soon realized that changing from one to another distracted me. What I needed was a sound that fit the mood of the piece I was writing. And so it was that my first novel Neelie James, still unpublished, was written to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” Gritty, blue collar, looking to get out of small town life. Neelie was born to run and Springsteen revved the engine.
Unfortunately, my soundtracks also carried over into my life. I went through my Italian period when only the soaring tenor beauty of Luciano Pavarotti could bring sense and sanity to my life. There was the regrettable, according to my daughters, time when I latched onto Lyle Lovett because I was dating someone who favored him. Note to self and others: choose your own music, never try to fit into someone else’s.
Diva Blues took a roller coaster ride to Dylan’s growling poetry. “Shooting Star” became a favorite. Truthfully, Dylan has been with me all along from my teen years on. If I’m trying to work through a big, complicated writing project of the nonfiction type, friends and colleagues have come to expected Highway 61 Revisited. There is nothing quite like grabbing hold of your roots when you’re walking through a storm.
October Run? It was the compilation of great tunes in the soundtrack to the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood movie. Phred Rivers was driving south and the drawl and warmth, and craziness, pulsed through me like a good hit of bourbon.
So what’s on my car and home CD player as I work on the November sequel to October Run? I finally caught up with my movie watching, only to discover that Crazy Heart spoke to my heart. From Jeff Bridges to Maggie Gyllenhaal to Colin Farrell the movie is brilliant. The rough vulnerability of Bridges came through as he took on the role that critics have said he was born to play. Farrell can do no wrong as an actor; he can sing too. The soundtrack reprises and doubles back on itself. Tracks shape-shift with different treatments like my writing in the November sequel. I am carrying forward characters I know but they are finding themselves in new places. I’m writing fast to keep up with them, with a crazy heart.