Wednesday, February 4, 2015

In Which I Bend the Rules

About two weeks ago, the charming Heather of Sometimes I'm a Story nominated me for The Lyric Medley Tag. (Thanks Heather!)


And I am finally getting to it.

If you want to know what I’m supposed to be doing here, you should probably visit Heather’s blog. Because when it comes to things like this, I’m really bad at following directions. I get so many thoughts for different spins I can put on a given idea, sticking to a set of bullet points feels like licking a barbed wire fence. Just not as exciting. So basically, I’m going to pick ten songs from my editing “collection”. Then I’m going to tell you why they’re on the list to begin with. But I won’t give you my favorite lyrics because I enjoy songs for the impression they give as a whole, and I feel that—at least for myself—when I pull a beautiful bit out of context, it loses some of its magic. (Also, I was supposed to make a collage representing my taste in music, but I nixed that because of space/time constraints.)

Just as a disclaimer, I’m not a huge fan of everything in Lorde’s repertoire, only a few select gems. Still, when I sit down to edit, I want to listen to the same song over and over (for hours) in order to keep the mood and some sense of continuity. Last year, I discovered “Team” had the perfect tone for the story I was writing, and now it’s a classic.

"Same Old, Same Old"—The Civil Wars

At the risk of sounding too dramatic, this song breaks my heart every time. I’m not sure whether it’s their wistful ante bellum vibe or their contradictory take on love, but something about their music speaks of the depth and complexity of human relationships. Also, their sound is mellow enough for background listening.

"I Want You Here"—Plumb

Unlike most of the others, I can’t listen to this one over and over because it gets to me after a while. But the sad, desperate message is just right for a sad, desperate scene. See, I’m one of those cold-hearted writers who views her characters, not as friends, but as assets. I’ll hand them pain and difficulties without batting an eyelash if I know I’ll benefit from the bargain. So occasionally I need help entering in emotionally.

"Beyond Reach"—Jennie Muskett

From time to time, lyric music messes with my concentration, especially when I have a migraine. And if you love Miss Austen Regrets as I do, you’ll understand what this piece means both on a mental and an emotional level. The entire soundtrack, with its sighing piano and its whispering violin, turns pain into something regal and beautiful.

"Colder Weather"—Zac Brown Band

Every time I hear about the gypsy-souled man and his abandoned love, I wonder at the romantic tinge to their unfolding story. There is something lovely in their tragic brokenness, yet I can never quite figure out what. Maybe it’s a lie, like the lie that claims war is glorious. Eventually I may see how this plays out in a novel—if the supposed reality reveals itself to be a thin veneer covering brutal ugliness, or if the lyrics hold solid to the truth. Either way, it gets the brain juices flowing (and yes, I promise never to use that phrase again.)

"Who We Are"—Imagine Dragons

While I enjoy Imagine Dragons, I’m not the sort of fan to tackle you and brandish a canister of mace in your face if you disagree with me about their obvious talent. I also realize it might be somewhat pathetic of me to write my own book while listening to the soundtrack for someone else’s book-to-movie success. Or at least, my inner editor tells me it’s weird. But, Catching Fire or not, the song is ambiguous enough to compliment just about anyone’s story.

"The Music of the Night"—The Original London Cast 

From time to time—not often—I venture forth into the land of opera and bring back some small treasure to file away in my brain forevermore. Even before I read the book, and even before I watched the movie, I fell in love with the soundtrack for The Phantom of the Opera. Much like Rigoletto, it deals with the juxtaposition and clash of the lovely and the ugly, the desirable and the undesirable, the inside and the outside. I like stories best when they portray the complexities that define every human being.

"Brothers in Arms"—Celtic Thunder

Can I just say? Ryan Kelly has the most marvelous voice on the face of the planet.  Okay, so that might be a bit of an exaggeration. Fun fact:  While I spent hours upon hours researching agents (which is about as enjoyable as licking a restaurant floor or shaving an angry cow), I numbed the pain with Celtic Thunder. Now whenever I listen to my playlist, I get the sudden urge to do more agent questing. I haven’t decided yet whether this is good or bad.

"A Sky Full of Stars"—Coldplay

I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t point out the tremendous genius that is Coldplay. While “A Sky Full of Stars” is sad and lonely, it is also yearning, wistful, and tragically hopeful. There are so many emotions to capture, and so many ways to capture those emotions. I could write a hundred books and not be through listening to this song.

"A Place Only You Can Go"—Needtobreathe 

That first verse gets me every time. For my writing’s sake, I like to be reminded that everyone has a past. No one gets by in life without a few scars, bumps, or bruises. My characters would merely be faded photographs if they didn’t have their own broken hearts to nurse, their own haunting mistakes to regret, and their own bitter pills to swallow.


So that’s just a sampling of what I listen to when I’m editing. Sometimes I like louder music sometimes softer. It really varies on my mood, and the weather, and quite possibly on what color I’m wearing. Trying to give you a list of my top favorites would be as impossible as trying to categorize the ones I have mentioned. But I think these ten songs convey the general idea of the mood I go for when I’m editing.

And now, here’s where I admit to another bit of cheating. At this point, I’m supposed to tag five other bloggers to follow in my footsteps. However, the problem is, I don’t actually follow too many blogs because I generally spend all my free time writing (or banging my head against the wall in lieu of brainstorming). Thus I don’t really know any bloggers. Not enough to tag them. That said, if you blog and you want to write your own take on the Lyric Medley Tag, just let me know in the comments section, and I’ll gladly link to your post.

Last but not least, one final shout out to the brilliant Heather!


  1. This is weird, but I'm actually listening to The Music of the Night right now! Odd coincidence (although it's the 2011 cast version, not the original). I also like Sky Full of Stars—my youth pastor introduced it to me just a few weeks ago. This is a great list of editing music, and I like how you mentioned the value of each one. Thanks for all the shout-outs and thanks for participating in the tag!

    1. Ha, that is funny. :) I watched the 2011 version a while back, but I felt it was inferior. The newer actors just didn't capture the emotion as well, although maybe I'm biased because I saw the original first. You're totally welcome for the shout-outs. And thank you for tagging me; I had a great deal of fun writing this post. Until now, I hadn't thought about my writing music much, so it was definitely a learning experience to sit down and analyze what I listen to. Apparently I go for the depressing stuff.