I must apologize. I was unable to crank out a Wednesday feature this week, and sadly, it may be a few weeks before I get back in the swing of that tradition. Please know I did not randomly decide to axe my features, nor am I tired of doing them. It's just that, as the weeks progress, they take more and more time away from the manuscript. Likewise, I would never forgive myself for writing something less than the individual deserves. So for now, I'm curtailing the weekly spotlight, but promise they shall return - just as soon as draft one becomes a thing of the past.
Michael, the protagonist in my novel, stopped in for a visit last night. Well, he didn't "stop in", but you know what I mean. Anyway, we were amid an intense conversation when, accidentally, I hit play on my iPod. For a second, I felt bad. I mean, Michael doesn't really get to listen to music where he is. He earns "electronic time" for good behavior, but I'm told that only entitles him to, at most, two hours per week of uninterrupted listening time. And Michael loves music.
You learn a lot about a person by the songs on their playlist. If there was ever any doubt of the strange, abnormal DNA pumping through my veins, just shuffle my music collection for confirmation. But Michael and I have not discussed music to the extent I would like. So, knowing today was the tenth, and knowing I post a monthly top ten list of some sort on this day, I asked him what ten songs were at the top of his playlist. I also asked if I could share them as an opportunity for my readers to get to know him a bit. Because as I said, you learn a great deal about a person from the music on their playlist.
The Top Ten Songs From The Playlist of Michael Ryan Kearns:
1. All By Myself (Celine Dion)
2. Fix You (Coldplay)
3. Lithium (Evanescence)
4. Speechless (Lady Gaga)
5. Broken (Seether ft. Amy Lee)
6. Love Song (311)
7. I Need A Doctor (Eminem ft. Dr. Dre & Skylar Grey)
8. Effin' Perfect (P!nk)
9. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Elton John)
10. Sing (My Chemical Romance)
Kidding aside, this was a cool writing exercise. The songs, the lyrics, and the artists singing them all helped me get to know my character better. Each song represents a stage in Michael's journey. I attempted to list them in an order that, if listened to chronologically, takes one through that journey.
Music is perhaps my favorite tool for getting inside a character's head. You can listen to it just about anywhere - before, during, and after writing. In the car. At the gym. While you're eating. And the best part for me is, I never get tired of my writing playlist. It isn't about the song; it's about the mood and creativity unleashed through the song. Of course, it always helps when the song is enjoyable for the writer as well.
If anyone finds themselves 'stuck' in the creative process, I recommend this or a similar exercise to get you back in the game. And if you attempt it, I'd love to hear your thoughts on how it worked out. I'll be listening to the above songs, along with a few others, until my project is complete. They are spot-on for my character, and I've never felt more 'in his head' than I do right now.