Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The mystery of creating

So I’ve written that scene where Neal gets the bad news about the kids and women. It needs tinkering but of course it’s only a first draft. Writing is funny, has anybody noticed that?

As I wrote, Neal made an offhand comment -- that maybe Sandy would write a song about the tragedy and thereby keep alive the memory of the murdered people -- that my Muse threw into her Magickal Crockpot. It simmered for two or three weeks, then boiled over one night as I was trying to stay asleep. Funny how the Crockpot tends to boil over nights when I have an early shift at work the next day. These two lines floated to the top and would not go away. I saw that dawn was seeping across the sky. Two more lines floated up. They seemed to click right together with the first two, rhyming and fitting with a rhythm. As most writers know, once that happens, you are doomed. You can’t ignore the Muse’s clicking, even if you want to. (Although, really, what writer wants to?)

Worse, I began to hear the lines sung. I heard a chorus; it was just a couple short lines with the first one repeated at the end. The weird thing is that it was Sandy’s voice. There is no way I could confuse it with anybody else’s voice, no real performer. As I wrote the words, the voice got stronger. I didn’t get a whole song, just a couple verses and that chorus, but it sounded like somebody was singing in my ear. It was the most obvious thing in the world to hear that tune with those words. Of course it flowed this way, that was its natural pattern.

This happened once before, in grade school. And, now that I think about it, that was also one of Sandy’s songs. That one I got in one piece, verses, chorus, complete melody, voice in my head. I wrote the lyrics down but time was cruel and saw to it that I lost the paper. I still remember the chorus though. Because I never learned anything about songwriting (like how to write music) I can’t write the melody for either of these songs. That’s my greatest frustration. I suppose I could make a simple vocal recording of the more recent song, “Flood of Tears”, but I’ve never had voice training either and I’m sure that not even my car likes to hear me sing.

Oh and the singing is accompanied by solo piano too. The tune wanders a bit between verses but not too far, like somebody improvising and not straying much from the basic melody. It’s all in my head. I can only get the words out on paper but of course the melody is perhaps more than half of what makes a song. Ah, to be a full-fledged songwriter, capable of getting all the details out there.

I tell myself that despite my shortcoming with songwriting, I still am blessed by my Muse. Not everybody has a Muse or is able to translate what that Muse is trying to say. It’s a wonderful thing to see people who don’t exist, hear conversations that never happened, see how made-up events fit together like a picture made of falling dominoes, get a sense of what makes people tick as you explore the interactions of people you can never physically touch. I used to write sci fi/fantasy and even aliens will help you understand humans. I wonder if a lot of psychologists write fiction.

Here’s to my Muse, whose name, by the way, is Sarah. Don’t let her commonplace name fool you. After all no one can write off a Muse.

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