Friday, March 25, 2011

No . . . It's NOT autobiographical!

Inspiration for Remember Newvember really did come from the people who surround me, and my daily interactions with them. The premise of trying one new thing every day for 30 days was easy enough to come up with, but to make the character and her actions believable; everything had to be kept on a small scale. It wouldn’t be physically possible for her to be bungee-jumping one day and then parachuting the next, especially since she did have a daily routine that had to be followed. 

Who would have thought taking the stairs instead of the elevator could lead a person into a journey that would forever change her outlook on life? That simple change in her daily routine sets off an incredible ripple effect throughout the rest of the main character’s daily life. Each small event adds to the person Willow has the capacity to become. By the end of the book there are still shadows of the old Willow lurking about, but a more self-assured and confident young woman emerges.

 Admittedly, several of the things Willow tries during the month of Newvember were either new to me, or recently experienced. This did not make the book even remotely autobiographical – it just made for more accurate descriptions of the character’s emotional and physical reactions to the various activities in which she engages. The story isn’t really about her new experiences; it’s about how she is able to change her outlook on life because her mind becomes more receptive to the workings of the world around her.

To be honest, I couldn’t imagine writing a book that wasn’t in some way influenced by my daily life. After all, how could I possibly describe in vivid techni-colour detail something I haven’t had the luxury of experiencing first-hand. Is Willow an extension of myself? Probably – but you won’t find me lurking in any stairwells.

Monday, March 21, 2011

World Poetry Day

In honour of World Poetry Day – I am posting the rest of my amazing “lyrics” which can be found scattered throughout Remember Newvember.


Deceptions dance on rainbows;
Dark dreams lie in shadows of light –
You are part of my essence
Shifting the shades to balance the night.

Answers lurk in the questions;
Revealing truth and despair –
You are part of my essence
Creating illusions that lay my soul bare.

“In my gilded cage –
The world is at my feet:
Waiting for the door to open
So I can spread my wings.
In my gilded cage –
Just a breath away:
I can taste the freedom
But I just can’t find my way.”

"The past is part of your present feast
A lie, a feint, a fib, a cheat,
Stir it up well,
Heap on the deceit.
Now it might be hard to chew
But you cooked it up –
This Karma Stew.”

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Novelists don't necessarily make the best lyricists

When I was ready to post Remember Newvember on Authonomy I realized the book was riddled with copyright issues. “Borrowing” someone else’s work for inspiration is one thing, but blatantly stealing it is something else altogether. I spent several days researching the ins and outs of copyright, trying to figure out a way to maintain the integrity of the story while holding on tight to all those song lyrics. Everything pointed to the same thing; I needed to obtain permission from whoever held the copyrights.
Have you ever tried to track down copyrights to a song? The lyrics rights are usually held by one person, the guitar line by another and the drums by yet another. Every musician in any given band owns a piece of each song he worked on. I only wanted the lyrics, but even then it got tricky because sometimes the artist himself didn’t actually own the rights to his own work. The more I researched, the more I discovered I just didn’t have the education, the resources or the contacts to be able to legally use someone else’s work.
Although I knew the likelihood of an artist tracking me down to sue me for promoting their work was pretty slim, I decided I wasn’t about to take the chance of having to deal with an expensive law suit. The simplest solution was to try my own hand at writing lyrics. I learned something very important. I am not a lyricist. In fact, I can barely throw together a four line stanza and call it poetry.
For example:

Gimme, gimme, gimme
Mine, mine mine,
The world should kneel before my feet
If you aren’t me you must be swine

Social Distortion – “I Want What I Want”

Because I want what I want
And I want it now
You mean this great big world
Doesn't revolve around me?


Sex for pleasure,
Sex for fun,
Sex lost the war and VD won.

Circle Jerks – “15 Minutes”

15 minutes of fun, pleasure
Now you're gonna go insane
And a trip, trip
Down to the free clinic

I would like to think that I improved with practice:
"Fragments of my life,
Scattered all around.
Shards of broken glass
Are all that can be found.
You can’t help repair it,
It lays shattered on the ground."
Images are reflected,
Disjointed in the glass.
Reflective of my broken life,
Haunted by my past.
You can’t fix this mirror,
Or this soul of shattered glass.


Billy Talent – “Rusted From the Rain”
"I stumble through the wreckage
Rusted from the rain
There's nothing left to salvage
No one left to blame
Among the broken mirrors
I don't look the same
I'm rusted from the rain
Go on crush me like a flower, rusted from the rain
Come on, strip me of my power, beat me with your chains
And if I'm the king of cowards, you're the queen of pain
I'm rusted from the rain, I'm rusted from the rain"
The question that remains is whether or not I achieved the desired effect of bringing the emotional feel of the music into the story. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to convince an unsuspecting musician to set my “lyrics” to music. Until then, you’ll just have to make up the tune all on your own.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Music, Budgies & Emotions

Music plays a vital role throughout Remember Newvember. I couldn’t write without having the radio on, or a playlist piping out through the inadequate speakers of my laptop. Much to my surprise, the music of choice did not come through the essence of the main character; rather it was channelled through the bird she reluctantly adopts. The bird has a penchant for spouting out hardcore punk music lyrics at the most inopportune moments. 

Budgie-Boo - the bird that led me to music
The inspiration for the bird came from a girlfriend who found her own budgie on her front lawn. The evolution of music came from my very distant childhood. Somewhere, locked deep inside, was the memory of listening to very raunchy, inappropriate music I could only savour when my parents weren’t home (sorry mom & dad). Band names such as “Day Glo Abortions”, “Circle Jerks”, “7 Seconds”, “My Dog Popper” and “Mr. Nobody” swept into my mind the moment the bird made his own dramatic appearance. Some of these bands are known throughout North America and Europe and are still playing while others I only remember from various “all ages’ shows” or performances in small bars.

The music brought me back to a time in my life when I was more receptive to new experiences; obviously this was before marriage and children which seems to have a grounding effect on most people.  The remembered feelings the music evoked put me in the right frame of mind to continuously search out new adventures for Willow to try in her daily life.

Without an auditory stimulant, I tend to be easily distracted. Music filters into my mind, sifts through my imagination and helps to pull out the bits that need to be released into the story. It induces feelings that lie dormant, waiting for liberation through words and world-building.

Writing without music is tantamount to swimming without goggles. Goggles aren’t essential to the skill of swimming, they don’t make you go faster or improve your technique. In fact, they are rather goofy-looking, however they do offer a sense of comfort and gives the swimmer the ability to see just a bit more clearly. Music does the same for writers. It does not improve technique or imagination, but it does allow the writer to dig deep to find suppressed emotions that might not otherwise make it into the page. Music makes my vision much more perspicuous; it's a powerful tool.

Lucky for me, I married a musician – so it’s never in short supply.