I love music. All music, really. Everything from opera to folk to rock to R&B to hip hop. I pretty much love it as much as I love reading and writing books, although my appreciation for music as a listener far outmatches my ability to create it.
I see so many parallels between music and fiction. Songs, like novels or short stories, tell a story. They lay bare the author’s (or musician’s) emotions, experiences, hopes, dreams and disappointments. As readers and listeners, we feel the emotions, we identify with the story, and the story transports us to a special place where we mine our memories or create new ones. There is an inherent honesty in the creation of music, just as there is in the creation of fiction.
The cool thing about fiction and songs is that the truth of the human experience expressed in songs and books help connect us to others. And it re-affirms for us what it means to be human.
I believe there is more truth in fiction and in songs compared with most other forms of human expression, because we can parallel our own truths, our own experiences, with what we’re reading or hearing. Our own journey through life can be seen through the journeys of the characters in novels or songs.
Creating music is something I’m not especially talented at, but it helps connect me to that artistic, expressive side of my soul that needs to, well, be expressed. For many years I’ve fooled around with hand drums, but over the last year I’ve gotten serious about learning to play the guitar. It’s a beautiful instrument, and so versatile.
In part, the incentive for learning to play came from the novel I’m currently working on. It’s a lesbian romance novel (“The Song In My Heart”, Bella Books, 2015) about two musicians – one on the uphill climb to music stardom, the other who walked away from a gilded career. I thought that playing the guitar and creating music would help connect me to my characters, and it has. But playing is also one of the most relaxing, soothing things I can think to do – kinda like taking a big, warm bubble bath with nice aromatherapy bath salts. The world drops away while I am concentrating on playing the guitar, and that’s a wonderful thing.
Playing the guitar – and all that relaxation – helps inspire my writing, and gives me energy and mental space to create fiction. Sometimes, I’ll listen to music when I sit down to write my novels. I’ll even create playlists on my iPod to match my novel’s moods. All of which helps me focus on my characters and storyline.
This weekend, however, I won’t be doing any writing. I’ll be at my town’s three-day annual outdoor music festival, called Summerfolk (http://summerfolk.org/), where I know I will have fun, relax, and soak up some inspiration.
What kind of music turns your crank?
Tracey Richardson is the author of Lambda Literary finalists “No Rules of Engagement” and “Last Salute”, and the popular “The Candidate” and “Side Order of Love”. Online, visit www.traceyrichardson.net or Twitter@trich7117.