For me, the writing process is often filled with adventure, making plans and then changing them, but a lot of discovery. Music is integral to my process whether I’m debugging code, editing, creatiing stories, or designing. Sometimes I think that I should be filmed while writing because I create these playlists for stories and while usually I’m just quietly grooving while I write, now and then, I have to stop to full on lip synch for my life and no one gets to see it.
In fact, on finishing this paragraph, I just had to rock out to Chet Faker’s cover of “No Diggity.” It’s really a whole performance. Someday this will probably be made public. Not today, in spite of a really killer hair day.
Of course, those at GRL a couple of years ago know that I will full on Karaoke, so I was definitely down with the singing along. This brings me back to Axl Rose as it was “Welcome to the Jungle” I performed. I have no defense. Just be glad I didn’t choose “Smack That.” (actually I was always going to do Guns-n-Roses for that performance since we were promoting Black Gold and that was much more rocky, but in retrospect I’m glad I didn’t try to do “Smack That” by Akon because I still haven’t quite nailed down Eminem’s rap)
This all brings me to the fact that I create playlists for certain stories and I usually share them. I had this big plan/idea to share my playlist for Prince Charming Wears Garters. The initial buzz about the story seemed really great, but then, not everyone loved it.
Funnily, some of the complaints were what I had when I’d first finished the story. I worried it was too melodramatic. That was what made me shelve it. I finish a lot of manuscripts that never see the light of day, but I finish them because how do you know what you have until you’re done?
A few things happened after that shelving. One, I kept thinking about it, because really, the basis of it in my head was Don Draper in garters. How do you not think about that? Two, the het romance I put out instead of that one, A Model Boyfriend was criticized for lacking drama.
Oh, you want drama? I got drama!
Still, it took me a bit to finally pull the manuscript up to read it again. I sent it to my Kindle and… I loved it. I’d rewritten a chapter that had been not just melodramatic, but wallowing in it. I liked the balance the story struck. It didn’t work for everyone, that’s life.
But in the back and forth with me feeling kind of neurotic, I realized that I had never shared the playlist for Prince Charming Wears Garters and the story deserves that.
But also, as much as music is part of the writing process, so is releasing the story into the world and watching how others react to it. Even if you don’t agree or think it’s unfair, you learn from that. Learn where your strengths are, where your weaknesses are, and it also changes your relationship to your story.
It also changes your relationship to what you’re writing and how you edit it. It’s not that I won’t write highly feminist characters anymore, I mean, fuck that noise. You don’t like feminists, get out of my treehouse. But, I am mindful to try to balance their presentation as much as I can. Sometimes the story is what it is and characters are who they are. But if i can add nuance and complexity, I try to. It’s all part of the process.