Music and Writing

I’ve always loved music.

Growing up, there was most always a radio playing in our house. My sister played records all the time. My brother blasted tunes from his 8-track player and I was fascinated by cassettes. There was even a radio in the milk barn and I can remember listening to it play “Betty Davis Eyes” while my mom and brother milked the cows.

Riding with my dad on the various pieces of farm equipment, he’d have the radio set to a station that played old country songs from Hank Williams and Patsy Cline.

When I was six, I began piano lessons, which continued until I was a junior in high school. My first music teacher scared me witless. She was tall and large. She gave lessons in her home, which always had a strange, somewhat unpleasant smell. When I first started lessons, I was convinced she was a troll in disguise as a human because her house was a stone’s throw for a big bridge. She carried a ruler and a pair of huge scissors with her to every lesson. If kids got unruly, she’d threaten to cut off their fingers. If they didn’t keep perfect form while playing, she would smack their hands with the ruler. Fortunately, I managed to make it through lessons from her with all of my fingers still intact. My second and final teacher was her daughter, who was quiet and very pleasant.

Even though I hated taking lessons and I hated to practice,  I enjoyed being able to put the notes together and play a song. There was something wonderful, with just a hint of magic, about being able to play a piece and have it actually sound like music.

In high school, I sang and played piano for the choir. In college, I didn’t have time for music and from there I seemed to drift away from something that I had once loved to so intently.

Due to a problem with my hearing, I can no longer sing, but I still love music. I listen to it at work, in the car, while I’m making dinner. Don’t roll your eyes, but country is my favorite. I also like jazz, classical, 80s rock, big band and songs from the 50s.

I have a habit of associating songs with people. Weird? No doubt. But it is fun to hear a certain song and be reminded of a special friend or family member. I found that habit has carried over into my writing.

When I jumped into this adventure of writing novels, music was a big part of what drove and inspired my characters. I spent hours listening to music as I wrote and the mood and tone of the songs really played a key role in shaping some of my characters. I can listen to a certain song and it makes me think of a character in one of my books, or a certain scene.

If you are feeling stumped in your writing, play some of your favorite music and see what creativity it sparks.

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