All characters are on some kind of journey when you write about them. They’re not just on a physical journey but an emotional and mental one also. Each character has dreams, hopes, and disappointments. Life always throws curve balls. It rarely gives you what you expect, want, or sometimes even need. Everything happens for a reason. What will some of these characters do when they need to make a change? What happens when they need to start over? What are they running from? What are they running to? To answer these questions, I’ve found that Feist’s music is one of the most inspirational. It allows me to climb into the character’s head, particularly if it is a female character, and see what it is that’s pushing them toward starting over in life.
Leslie Feist (otherwise known as Feist) is a Canadian singer-songwriter who sings mostly indie hits. Her deep lyrics are accompanied by her harmonious voice, each song a tale waiting to be explored further. I was introduced to Feist’s music several years ago but rediscovered her a few months back with her album, “Metals”. The first song on the album, The Bad In Each Other, inspired scenes for my apocalyptic novel that I’ve been working on and from that point on, I was hooked. Today, I’ll be sharing five songs with you and the things I see when I listen to them.
The Bad In Each Other: She swings the backpack over her shoulder and starts walking. This is the only way to go and the only way to go is to walk. As scared as she is that someone or something might suddenly take her life away, she has to keep one foot in front of the other. She has to make sure that she at least dies trying. The sky opens up in a bevy of deep and pale oranges that morning, the shadows sliding down the mountains in the distance. A warm breeze keeps her moving, keeps her ears open and always listening. She wishes that he was with her, wishes that some part of him could guide her to where she needs to be. She pulls out the photograph in her pocket of him and stares at it as she walks. All she has is her memories. Somehow, she brings those to the forefront of her mind. She has to remember him as he was. She has to make sure she doesn’t get pulled down, doesn’t get lost in this strange new world. She tucks the photo away and continues toward the horizon, unsure of where she will be that night but knowing that she at least has a chance to survive.
Honey, Honey: She’s been driving for miles through the night. When the day breaks, she finds herself in a small town. It’s quaint, most of the people seem friendly as they go about their everyday lives. Somehow, she thinks this might be the place to start over, a new beginning she didn’t anticipate. She parks on the main street in front of the cafe and walks inside. It’s not like those movies where everyone stops what they’re doing and looks at you. But she can tell a few are questioning her, wondering about her. She sits at a table in the corner and searches each one of their faces. There doesn’t seem to be any hostility here. A place with little to no violence and anger. This could be home if she really tried to make it.
Graveyard: She stands outside the iron wrought gates to the graveyard. They’ve closed them, locked them together with chains. She grips the cold bars with her hands and stares into the shadows of the trees and the silhouettes of headstones. This was her last goodbye. She couldn’t stay here any longer. The more time she spent in the graveyard, the more convinced she was that there was a way of still living with him, of bringing him back to life in her mind and through her feelings. She knows its not healthy. She knows she needs to start over. Though she can’t see his headstone, she knows that its just up the hill, in the twentieth row back and the fifth in. She knows that she laid a bouquet of sunflowers to rest there only two days ago. She dips her head and forces herself to turn away, forces herself to walk toward her already packed car. A new life was waiting somewhere. And tonight was the night to drive to it.
So Sorry: Her palm rests on the door. She sound of its slam is still in her ears, the tingly feeling in her palm is spreading from where she slammed it. He’d lied to her. But she hadn’t been honest either. Constant misunderstandings had been piling up. This wasn’t the first time he’d slammed a door, the first time she’d smacked one. This wasn’t the first time she’d let the tears fall freely from something he’d said or been remorseful of the terrible things she’d screamed back. She sinks to the floor. They were spiraling. Both of them too selfish and self-important to really think about what was best for one another. Though he’s left, she knows he’ll come back. And when he does, they’ll forgive one another just as they’ve always done and continue with life until the next argument befalls them. The cycle needs to be broken. But what to do. She scrapes her keys off the counter and swings a coat on. Sometimes, the best thing to do to make a rational decision is to take a walk and clear ones mind. She sets off into the night down the street, letting the cool fall air guide her.
The Water: The boat pulls away from the dock. She won’t touch land for the next two months. She stares back at it as it grows smaller and smaller, drifting further and further away. At some point, she just has to tear her eyes off of it and look toward the path ahead of her. They said she couldn’t do this. She had experience on the water. But making a solo trip that would encompass months? It was risky. They’d said she couldn’t do this because she wasn’t strong enough. They had told her she couldn’t do a lot of things ever since that fateful trip to the doctor’s office. Who were they to tell her what she could and couldn’t do? Who were they to tell her what she needed? She needed this. She needed to make this trip to prove to herself that she still could. She wouldn’t accept that this illness had made her less of a woman than she already was. She could still do this.
Next week on Inspiration Through Music, I’ll be choosing some songs from NEEDTOBREATHE, a band I just found and don’t know how I’ve lived without! Stay tuned.