Olivia’s Song

I don’t know about other writers, but I frequently assign songs to my characters and stories as a sort of soundtrack (although not the kind of soundtrack that would be playing if the story was a movie! Anachronistic stuff). Often it’s something that’s inspirational to me–I can listen to the song while working out or driving and let the way that songwriter describes those feelings or that scenario that my character also experiences lead my mind down new paths for the story. 

Most of the time this happens while I’m either writing a story or before I start, when it’s still in the formation stages.  But every now and then a song will retroactively apply itself to a story I’ve already written.

This (obviously) just happened. I’m driving to work, listening to a party mix one of my friends made for me, and Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” pops up. I like the song, yeah, good beat, interesting change-ups, etc., but I had never really listened to the words.  For whatever reason, they stood out to me today, and as I listened, I kept thinking “damn, this would make a GREAT angsty kind of love story.”  Then I realized I had already pretty much written it, with Twelfth Night.  There’s definitely that edge of anger and darkness and “I don’t want to be friends” to Olivia’s relationship with the hero.

Not sure I’m right? Check out the first scene and decide for yourself….



Filed under Muse Music, Ramblings, Writing

6 responses to “Olivia’s Song

  1. I can’t do this for some reason. I think I have too many multiple personality disorders that never find the same space twice with the same song.

    • Hm…what a fabulous way to put it, “never find the same space twice with the same song.”

      I actually tend to create strong emotional resonances with songs, so that often (although not always, certainly), hearing a song will put me into the same emotional place/state of mind/memory sequence where I first had a very strong reaction to it or really noticed it or associated it with something. Admittedly, I also tend to listen to a song several times in a row if it is making me feel a certain way and stimulating story-telling nodes, so perhaps that helps solidify that connection for me. I started doign this several years ago…5 or 6, maybe? It was after college, but not by much…and actually quite regularly find a scenario presented in a song that makes me want to unravel a story around it. Once, driving home from my parents, I believe I spent an entire hour listening to the same song over and over and over while I contemplated the story it was dredging up from my subconscious. 🙂

  2. Yeah, I understand what you’re saying. Used to do it a lot myself too. And sometimes still do if I’m on a loooooong drive somewhere on my own. Some songs evoke marvelous storylines without even trying, and they may even have nothing to do with the lyrics of the song. Just the feel. I danced butoh for five years. A strange dance, but magnificent. Often, when putting a dance together, I’d put music on the player, lie on the ground and imagine a story as evoked by the music. See, the story informed the dance, not the other way around. Same holds true today – I can find the stories, but each time I listen to the song the story loses its power because it’s like someone else is interpreting the music. Perhaps its too mood/time/space based.

    • ” it’s like someone else is interpreting the music”.

      You have this pithy way of saying everything in just a few words. I envy that. Could never write flash like you always are…I need paragraphs and paragraphs. 🙂

      whether I get anything out of playing a song like that depends on my mental state, I will say that. It is a specific sort of loose left-brained free-thinking space; otherwise i just find myself hung up on the actual words of song, and what good does that do? perhaps that is the same thing you are describing.

  3. Lucy

    This is fascinating. All of it….the original post, as it acts somewhat as a window into your creative process (or at least a portion of it) and then the differences discusses between you and scribbla, here. It’s so interesting to me that we (humans) can absorb and process things so diversely sometimes. I love it. I love the idea that those certain songs help you to feed a particular story/character in your process. And I equally enjoy that you, scribbla, usually tend to have a different account each time, for a song. However, you spoke of the music often moving your to a story, which you could connect with your dance for butoh.. Very compelling. For me, I am not a writer. I am, instead, more of a musician — though, I don’t feel entirely comfortable claiming myself as such, since I rarely indulge this craft anymore….sadly. At any rate, I find it extremely intriguing that one form of art can be a creative spark for another. It would be like me looking at a piece of artwork and suddenly being moved to write a song….it’s happened……same with reading stories. Neither have been a driving factor, but inspirational, nonetheless, and that is what fascinates me! It’s like that channel you speak of, being open and clear. And honestly, I think that’s what it comes down to. I think the inspiration from art — in any form — is always present, it is up to us to channel it and/or open ourselves up to it and then we direct it in which we need it most.

    That’s just my take on it, I think. 🙂

    • “I think the inspiration from art — in any form — is always present, it is up to us to channel it and/or open ourselves up to it and then we direct it in which we need it most.”

      Very well said, Lucy. The world itself is inspiring, but I wonder sometimes if there is simply too much of it at once, if that makes sense? That perhaps the reason we can look at someone else’s moment in time, be it a painting or a song or a dance or anything, and find our own story in it, is because they gave us just one place and one moment to look at instead of the whole big confusing contradictory world? Like it almost functions as a subconscious prompt…”tell a story about two lovers with a volatile passion” vs “tell a story about two lovers.” which is easier to frame a story around if you have no idea where to start, going in?

      I guess it’s the same thing i do when i have a real-life moment that i want to put in a story, but for whatever reason (probably the relative lack of drama in my personal life!) i find those “i want to write about this” moments more when i’m examining other people’s distillations of the world.

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