Of Men and Music
I've wanted to write since I was a kid. I remember trying to write a book at twelve – didn't have a clue what it really took and that effort went nowhere. I tried again in high school. The result wasn't a whole lot better, in part because, well at sixteen, I had a quite a few competing interests for my time. While in college, I took a creative writing course and figured – I'll write an entire novel in a semester. My instructor toned down my expectations and opened my eyes that writing took a lot more than just ideas and a way to put them on paper.
After college came the real world – reality can be harsh. Work was going to be a piece of cake. Get up, go to work, and when I finished I'd have the rest of the day free. I even took a new writing course to get myself back on track. Somehow I never found all that 'free time' I expected to have once I didn't need to spend the day in class and then studying (and let's be honest, I probably spent more time partying, having fun and hanging out then going to class and studying.) Here again, there was always something else I needed/wanted to do that took priority over things like reading and writing.
The real change for me came when I settled down. Going to a club lost a lot of its allure once you found your significant other. I'd say, 'sure it was fun once and a while,' but the reality was, it wasn't fun for us after we'd been together a few years. We tried the – 'let's go out with our couple friends,' but that meant the four of us stood around, nursing a drink or two, shouted at each other for a couple hours and went home wondering WTF made us think going there was a good idea.
I finally had my much-coveted free time to do what I'd always wanted – write. That's when I learned it took more than just the time to write. I needed a muse, inspiration, something to motivate me.
Wouldn't it make for a beautiful post if I wrote here that I found all three in Mike, my then significant other, now husband? It would be one of those 'aww' moments that cause people to create Facebook posts with sappy titles like – He Encouraged His Husband to Chase His Dreams and You'll Never Believe What Happened Next. Okay, put away the tissues, it wasn't one of those moments. But he was my motivation.
Mike suggested I do, really do it. Not put a few thoughts down, but get started, write and then finish what I started. That was the kick in the pants I needed, someone to encourage me to stick with it. Sort of like a personal trainer for writing. It proved to be the missing ingredient.
Armed with the motivation, I set out to find my inspiration. I'm sure many writers find inspiration in music. For me, like so much else about me, it works in a convoluted, round–about way. The entire Champion of the Gods series was born from an obscure 3-minute song. I was listening to the live version of 10,000 Maniacs. Stockton Gala Days was playing and I 'saw' the image of what will be—after many revisions and changes—part of the last battle scene. I wrote out the scene quickly and over time it changed quite a bit, but it was the basis of the entire series. Whenever I play that song, I can 'see' where I was when the image for the story came to me. Despite the many incarnations the 'story' has taken to bring it to print, I've kept the original version just because.
Peter, Paul and Mary—yes, I know I'm dating myself, but I heard them when I was a very little kid—sang, For Baby (For Bobbie). That song—specifically the words¬—inspired my current WIP – Harp Strings, which is about a gay college student who fathered a child and ended up having sole custody. The words speak to me as a father and how I feel when I look at my daughter. I wanted to capture that feeling in a story. Unfortunately, due to copyright laws, I can't actually use the lyrics in the song without paying a fee and right now that isn't in my budget. Maybe if the book sells well enough I can go back and add the lyrics as a part of a revised edition.
Two down, one to go. Where would I find my muse, that force to get me humming and able to get out the head full of ideas I knew I had, but couldn't get out? Erato didn't seem to answer my prayers, until I realized she had. I liked to listen to music when I wrote and often times it would bring me inspiration, but it did more than that; it helped me to focus. Not the words, but the melody.
Although some people can't understand, I can push the music—even the hard pounding, punk songs I favor—to the background. I hear it, but I don't listen. No matter how loud, music doesn't disturb me like the usual sounds of an office, house, or coffee shop. It allows me to concentrate on getting the words out and getting them out right.
Different songs help me write different emotions. The Offsprings' Half-Truism and Hands Held High, by Linkn Park helped me write the death of characters. I've listened to Victory and Walk Away by Bad Religion (heck, half of Bad Religion's songs for that matter) quite a lot when I need to write fight scenes. And I don't think I could write a wedding scene without Pachelbel's Canon in D or Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor.
While writing part of what will be book four of Champions, I listened to Rise Against—specifically, Collapse. The music fit the scene, so I played it many times as wrote, reworked and self edited that chapter. Now whenever I hear that song, I think of what that part of the book.
I'm sure as I continue to write, I'll find new music songs to draw out the stories I want to tell. Discovering these new songs is part of the adventure. I'm free to seek them out because my motivation is the same as it's always been. Years later he still encourages me to do what I enjoy. And in the end, that is all the inspiration I need.
Giveaway: The author is giving away a copy of Purpose to one reader. Leave a comment below to enter.
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Purpose by Andrew Q. Gordon
Paperback: 270 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (June 21, 2013)
Amazon Kindle: Purpose
Forty years ago the Spirit of Vengeance—a Purpose—took William Morgan as its host, demanding he avenge the innocent by killing the guilty. Since then, Will has retreated behind Gar, a façade he uses to avoid dealing with what he’s become. Cold, impassive, and devoid of emotion, Gar goes about his life alone—until his tidy, orderly world is upended when he meets Ryan, a broken young man cast out by his family. Spurred to action for reasons he can't understand, Gar saves Ryan from death and finds himself confronted by his humanity.
Spending time with Ryan helps Will claw out from under Gar’s shadow. He recognizes Ryan is the key to his reclaiming his humanity and facing his past. As Will struggles to control the Purpose, Ryan challenges him to rethink everything he knew about himself and the spirit that possesses him. In the process, he pushes Will to do something he hasn't done in decades: care.
About the Author: Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting with technology, he now takes his MacBook somewhere quiet when he wants to write. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his partner of eighteen years, their young daughter and dog. In addition to dodging some very self-important D.C. 'insiders', Andrew uses his commute to catch up on his reading. When not working or writing, he enjoys soccer, high fantasy, baseball and seeing how much coffee he can drink in a day and not get the shakes.
Find all his published works on his site: The Land of Make Believe.
Social Media Links:
Follow Andrew on his website: www.andrewqgordon.com,
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/andrewqugordon,
On Twitter: @andrewqgordon,
Or just email him: email@example.com
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