Tag Archives: david bowie

Music and the Writer

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It’s a fact of life that music affects humans in a way that very little else does. Throughout the ages, music has developed with human beings. Today, the history of music is studied along with the psychology of music, musical therapy and ethnomusicology—and many other branches of music studies. All because we like to hear pretty sounds.

I’ve never met a writer who doesn’t have a playlist for writing. It varies, and sometimes one song is more strongly featured than others, but almost all of us have music playing in the background when we write. Why is this? Music can inspire and lift the spirits. Music can remind us so strongly of where we’ve been and make us long to go somewhere completely different. Music sets the mood.

Most of the time, my playlist is pretty eclectic. For six months after David Bowie died, I remember I only listened to his music. And then other songs began to sneak in. He’s still pretty heavily featured on my playlists, but it’s not all Bowie all the time like it was. I have some country, some pop, some classic rock, even a bit of classical. Recently, Enrique Iglesias has snuck onto my radar, possibly because of my most recent work-in-progress (more about that later).

Today, I’m over at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews promoting Becoming Magic with ten of my favorite playlist songs. Guaranteed, I listened to all ten while writing Becoming Magic. I’m probably listening to them today, too.  Join me over there and leave a comment with your favorite song. I’d love to know what inspires you!

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Writers write…even when they’re not at a computer.

“Are you writing anything new?”

Every writer gets this very excellent question, although many of the askers don’t even realize how appropriate it probably is. Because if you’re talking to a writer, chances are, they’re writing something.

I’m writing all the time. So my answer should always be yes, but sometimes I equivocate. “Yes, when I have time.” “Yes, but not as much as I’d like.” “Well, it’s been busy with the kids and all.”

But that’s not true. I’m writing even when I’m answering the question. In some back room of my brain, I’m scribbling away at an old-fashioned desk…using a feathered quill on parchment, probably. Sunlight streams in through a yellow-paned window and the pages I’ve written litter the floor.

Yeah, that’s why I sometimes stare vaguely at a green light until somebody honks at me.

I didn’t consciously realize this about myself until the other day when I read an article about of all things, a possible remake or sequel to the movie “Labyrinth”. I was still listening exclusively to David Bowie, not really mourning his death, but definitely feeling the loss of it. My immediate, visceral reaction was a total rejection of the idea. How could you remake “Labyrinth” without the Goblin King himself?

Then I left to pick up my kids and while I was in the car, I started to write the sequel to “Labyrinth” myself. By the time I was done, I had the whole story. It even stars Jennifer Connelly. And David Bowie (computer animated?) makes a cameo appearance.

I haven’t written any of it down—not even an outline—because, you know, what are the chances that Hollywood is going to call me and ask me to write Labyrinth II? But it’s all up there in my head, scribbled on yellow parchment and lying in a neat stack in a square of sunshine. And I wrote it while in the carpool lane, while picking up groceries, while chatting with friends and doing laundry.

Am I writing anything new? Yes, I just haven’t decided if I want to share it yet.

Author’s note: The following is just for fun and about as fresh off the press as it’s possible to be (read VERY rough draft). If you are a fan of Labyrinth, you might enjoy it. You might not. It’s really just a bit of fan fic about how I’d like the sequel to start out. 

The horrible feeling that something was very wrong built in Sarah’s chest. So when she rounded the corner and saw the flashing lights, she was barely surprised. When she pushed open the car door and rushed toward the house, she was almost calm.

She saw Davey’s tricycle on its side in the middle of the road, but there were no ambulances. Cassidy sat on the front steps, obviously crying, with a police officer in front of her, writing something on a pad of paper.

“Cassidy.” Sarah spoke sharply. “What have you done?”

The fear on the babysitter’s face echoed in Sarah’s heart. “Mrs. Lawrence, I swear, I barely took my eyes off him. One second he was there and the next…” She swept her arm around the empty yard with its emerald grass and ruby roses and no laughing little boy with sapphire eyes running to greet his mother.

“Mrs. Lawrence, we’re conducting a search. We think your son just wandered off…couldn’t go far…” The voices faded into the background and Sarah closed her eyes.

It’s happening again.

She felt hands on her shoulders. “Mrs. Lawrence? Can we call someone for you? Your husband?”

She shook them off, opening her eyes and facing them. “You can call off the search. I know who has my son. And he’ll only give him back to me.”

“You know where he is?”

“God help me, yes.” Sarah glanced at her watch. How long ago had Davey disappeared? Twenty minutes? Thirty? How much of the thirteen hours was left? “My brother has him.”

She knew how it must sound. Her brother Toby—her only sibling—had disappeared ten years ago at the age of sixteen. Everyone knew about that disappearance. Nobody knew about the one that had happened when he was still a baby. And nobody knew the two were connected.

Except me. And now he’s taken my baby. Her lips curved in a little smile. She already knew the rules, she already knew the way. She knew nothing would be fair and certainly not easy. Toby would do everything he could to keep her from making it through the labyrinth. But Toby had made a mistake Jareth would never have made. Jareth had only taken her brother. Toby had taken her son.

Don’t worry, Davey. Mama’s coming.

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My Elvis died.

supermoon

Another one of my heroes died this week, and it’s left a bigger hole in the world than I’d anticipated. I mean, people die. Even the stars we admire from afar. I’ve got more heroes in heaven than I do on earth at this point. Walt Disney, Mark Twain, Bing Crosby, Steve Jobs… Yet, it just seems so wrong that David Bowie isn’t still here.

Why him more than the others? It’s hard to say, really. I wasn’t the best David Bowie fan. I didn’t love everything he ever put out. I didn’t buy every album. I tended to pick and choose, more of a greatest hits than a B-side fan. I never went to a concert. I own a lot of his music, but I don’t listen to it all the time.

I think he was my Elvis. The one artist that won’t be replaced for me. It’s not just that it’ll be difficult. There won’t be another David Bowie. That incredibly elastic voice and personality can’t be replaced. We won’t see another Major Tom or Ziggy Stardust or Jareth or Thin White Duke. Not again.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mourn him. I didn’t know him. But I’ll never listen to his music again without a sense of loss and the impermanence of life. Which means his music doesn’t mean the same thing to me that it did. I can’t just fall in love with his croon and wonder at the hidden meanings to his lyrics. And it’s that loss that I mourn.

So good-bye, Mr. Bowie. I’ll miss you every time I hear your voice.

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