“Every piece of writing… starts from what I call a grit… a sight or sound, a sentence or happening that does not pass away… but quite inexplicably lodges in the mind.” -Rumer Godden
When I was first considering what came to be known as “The Harlequin Challenge,” I had no idea I would embark on a journey that would make ME grow, not only as a writer but as a person. I wanted to write for the challenge, put forth by Kelsey Card last May (I think), which was to write a Harlequin-length novel by the end of the summer. I sat at my desk after work one night thinking, “I’d do it, but I can’t really think of anything to write.” The next song on my MP3 player (2000 songs, perpetually set to random) was Garth Brooks, from the movie Frequency, titled When You Come Back to Me Again. In the next 4-1/2 minutes something amazing occurred. I didn’t see the movie playing in my mind. I began to see something fresh, the story of two people who knew each other ONLY over the air waves, and fell in love that way…but for various reasons were lost to one another. When they meet years later, they don’t recognize each other at first, at least not consciously. With that simple change of reels in my brain, that song inspired me to write a story that took me from Los Angeles to Wyoming, through sweet love, to passion, to the uncertainty of losing love all over again. Each time, my writing started to drag, I found myself freshly inspired through another piece of music, nothing I went looking for, but always something that came to me. When I needed a dramatic face-to-face, first-time-up-close meeting between my characters, enter Carrie Underwood’s influence. My main characters were passionate in a fiery way, so no sweet love song was going to do it. As I struggled with writing their love scene, again with my MP3 player set on random, enter Garth Brooks holding my answer again, with Standing Outside the Fire. Because NOTHING about my main characters would ever accept standing on the outside of the fire of life. As the story progressed to my heroine being lost and needing rescue, believe it or not, The Moody Blues held my answer with I Know You’re Out There Somewhere. And when I needed a song to inspire me to write a sweet ending to what became a very powerful story, music again held the key, in the form of Martina McBride’s There You Are.
I truly believe I was inspired to write this story by a Divine hand. I haven’t yet figured out why…maybe it was just for me, to show me that I could, indeed write an 80K word story over a summer and part of the fall. Maybe it was just for my own pleasure. Who knows? I do know that getting this story under my belt gave me confidence to go ahead and write a followup story (yes, that one has a score, too), and then an unrelated story. In the end, the third story, Heartsight is the one that got picked up by a publisher first. And soon I will release the details of my inspiration for that one.
In the meantime, I’m going to keep listening to the music that inspires me. And hopefully, my crit partners won’t mind spinning more straw into gold-plate.
What inspires you?