Music in My Writing
One day I was working on my current young adult story when one of the major characters surprised me by saying he had learned to play the guitar. Now this was not in my original plans, but I went with him¾who am I to question my characters? In one scene, so far, he and a friend play their guitars. We will see where this new thought leads.
I started thinking about my other stories and whether they contained musical elements. To my surprise, music is part of four out of five of my books. In Listen to the Ghost Matt, one of the major characters plays the saxophone and piano. Jennifer, the pov character in Secrets I Have Kept, plays classical music on the piano, and Casey, the other pov character writes country ballads and strums the guitar. Then Rebel’s mother runs away with the drummer in a rock band in the novel Rebel in Blue Jeans, and Lizzie, from Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines plays the guitar. Though the music isn’t the main point of each story, it’s there, adding to the details of the characters’ lives, telling us a little more about their likes and dislikes.
So music does play a part in most of my work. And I believe it goes back to my early years when I took piano lessons. Twice a week I spent 30 minutes in Mrs. Patton’s home, sitting at her piano. At the time, of course, I’d rather have been outside playing with my friends. My parents wanted me to play the piano, and I did my best. Today, I’m so glad I did. When I’m tense and my world is going in ten different directions at the same time, I can sit at the piano, play some of my favorite tunes from the 50’s or my favorite hymns from today, and I relax and soon I’m ready to face the day with an improved attitude and sometimes ideas for new scenes or lines that popped into my head from the songs.
In addition to the piano, I once played the clarinet in the junior high and high school bands. At the time I enjoyed the music but never considered how it might affect my future life. From my experiences, however, I believe that writing is much like playing a musical instrument. I started from the beginning, learning the basics. With music, on the piano for instance, it’s treble clef, base clef, whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, rests, sharps, flats, and all the parts that go together to make a song. Then I advanced in my knowledge of music and put the parts together with words and lyrics and melodies. Soon my music was telling a story. Yes, someone else wrote the words, but when I was on the stage, playing for my recitals, I still relayed the message to my listeners.
With writing, I began with words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, commas, periods, and question marks. As my skills grew and developed, I put the parts together, introduced the characters, and added a plot and theme. Soon I was telling a story to my readers.
Sometimes, what we do as adults reflects back to things we enjoyed in our childhood. Is there music in your writing?
Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines is the story of Elizabeth (Lizzie) Stamford and her family's daily struggle to survive a changing way of life during the American Civil War. This is a story of fear, courage, and understanding that people, no matter where they live, have the same needs: love, peace and security.
YA Trade Paperback
$14.95, 152 pages
June 15, 2010
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