Monday, November 07, 2011

Storytelling

My soundtrack for the last three or four weeks has been 85% Pearl Jam. Ever since I saw Cameron Crowe's 20 year retrospective on the band, I'm reliving all the old songs that made my early- to mid-20s somewhat memorable. (I say somewhat because I'm really a pretty boring guy. Haven't done much or seen much except in my head. The internet was a window to worlds I'll probably never experience but that's a subject for a different time.) I'm discovering a lot of music by the guys that I missed in the last ten years or so, too. They've made some really remarkable stuff while I was away listening to other music.

One of the things that's stuck with me from the movie has been Eddie Vedder's answer to the question about why the songs on TEN were all so 'dark'. He responded that if one doesn't explore the dark sides of things how do we know what the light is supposed to look like?

Thanks, Eddie. I needed that going into November and a huge writing month. An absolutely perfect idea.

This year's NaNovel has been a little darker for one of the main characters than any of the others I've written in the past. There's motivation that I never thought about before, or never thought about applying in the ways I'm applying it before. This character is acting in what some might call a selfish, even potentially villainous, way that it's fun to write this person. (Yes, I'm deliberately avoiding the pronoun. Get over it.) I didn't know I was building all this internal conflict between the two main characters and it's enhancing the overall plot of the story, too.

Thing is, I have no idea how it got incorporated into the character or the story. It just HAPPENED.

I suppose that's where good stories come from, isn't it? Somewhere in the aether, dipping down into the writer's brain and mucking around in there until it comes out? Is this a little Jungian synchronicity/collective unconscious or is it just the result of thousands of pages of 'how to write' books and webpages? I don't know. Maybe a little of both. Or, better still, is it reflecting back on twenty years of 'dark' songs with the experience of having lived a little in those years? Being able to better understand the emotions of the songs from a POV down the road has been enlightening. The songs mean something different than they did the first time I heard them.



I hope it's a mix of all these things.I'm 15,000 words into the NaNovel and I'm still excited. There have been a couple of dips in places where I challenged myself to write something I never had before (one scene in particular that had fourteen characters in it was a horrible, mind-shellacking DRAG to write) and even those things will likely be excised like a cancer with a rusty spoon, they've helped me tell a better story.

And right now I wouldn't trade them for anything.

What songs have new meaning for you having heard them again after a long time away from them?