After getting the chance this past weekend to talk about my next book project with my agent extraordinaire, I’m itching to get down to business with the actual writing.
I’m squelching the urge to rip open all my moving boxes and find my taped-together outline and composition notebook full of research materials and haul back into the very messy first chapter, mostly because I’m not sure I have enough packing tape left to reseal all the boxes I’d have to dig through. But once I have the basics unboxed, that outline’s going up on the wall, and I’m going to start piecing together all the tidbits that should make this novel work.
But while I’m in this holding pattern, I’m feeling full of inspiration. I was at the gym a while ago, letting the music on my ipod scroll randomly about, thinking about how I might want to execute one of the critical scenes in the new plot. Then, this Beatles song came on.
I just about fell off the elliptical machine (okay, in all fairness, I’m pretty clumsy–it’s not all that odd for me to fall off a machine. But this was very different indeed.). This is exactly the way the next story sounds in my mind. No, my book’s not set in 1968. It has nothing to do with the Beatles, or with the Manson murders (with which the song is, sadly, often correlated). The song may never even show up in the book itself. But “Helter Skelter” might very well be the musical correlative of the entire novel. This is the feeling I want the prose to produce. This is the frenetic but earnest emotion I want to carry the whole book, and the playful but insidious psychology my main character should embody. This is what the book needs to live up to.
Oddly enough, I can’t listen to any music whatsoever while I write. It kerfulffles my sense of rhythm and musicality in language; I tend to write in complete silence, or as close as I can get to silence living in the middle of Seattle. But there’s always an underlying sound or song to everything I write. (Jacob Wrestling, if you’re curious, sounds a lot like this in my mind.) I may even go so far as to say it may play that elusive role of “muse” to me in making a book. Now that I’ve found that sound for the next book, I think there may be no stopping me on this first draft.