Creative Connections

Today’s post by Bonnie Grove of our sister blog, Novel Matters | @BonnieGrove

Bonnie Grove

I’ve finished writing a novel this week. A three-year journey of frustration and hope. As I combed through one last time before sending it off, I lingered over the pages that contained song lyrics. There are lyrics from eight songs in the manuscript. Snippets mostly, the apt verses that fit the moment in the book, except for one song I transcribed in its entirety. The songs had to be included in the manuscript because they add a dimension of emotional expression unattainable through any other method.

Music and novels are, for me, two sides of the same storytelling coin.

When I was a kid, I had bemoaned the fact that a soundtrack did not accompany real life the way it did in movies. It wasn’t until as an adult, I looked back and saw that I had created a soundtrack for my life after all. Summers were Chicago’s power ballads on a sandy beach holding hands with a boy I’d met two days ago. And The Beach Boys singing oldies but goodies while I learned to waterski and windsurf (I was terrible at both). Grade 11 was the soundtrack to Purple Rain as my friends and I acted out each song. (I was a drama geek.) The stories in those songs became my story.

How does that happen?

I think part of the answer is that storytelling is the creative connection between people and life. Both the novel, with its long view of unfolding events, and the song with its explosion of emotion capsuled in a few verses, weave themselves into our life journeys and help us express a prism of meaning and depth we cannot articulate on our own.

The lyrics from the eight songs I included in the manuscript add emotional depth and dimension to the story. A mother holding her child sings,

Baby mine, don’t you cry.

Baby mine, dry your eyes.

Rest your head close to my heart,

never to part, baby of mine

A fisherman faced with the daunting task of making an outsider understand how his life and livelihood have been wiped out sings,

They filled their dories twice a day

They fished their poor sweet lives away

They could not imagine then

No more fish, no fishermen.

The songs become something beyond language and usher us into the place of feeling and experiencing. Story weaves into story. A novel’s reach is extended by the songs ability to quickly touch the tender talon of longing, the ache in the bone, the explosion of hope.

I no longer bemoan the fact that life doesn’t come with a soundtrack. I’m convinced we create our own soundtrack thought the creative connection of storytelling both with the stories we read, and the music we listen to.

How about you? Which novels and/or songs have woven into the fabric of your life?


4 Responses to Creative Connections

  1. Heather Day Gilbert May 2, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Hmmm…novels that are part of my life…A WRINKLE IN TIME series in HS. Not to mention daily doses of Agatha Christie. ee cummings in college, maybe a little Edna St. Vincent Millay and a whole LOT of Emily Dickinson. After that, baby books and homeschooling books…and catching up on classics like JUDE THE OBSCURE. Now, trying to catch up on CBA authors since I’m trying to become one. And I love TALKING TO THE DEAD, so looking forward to your next book, Bonnie!

  2. Catherine Leggitt May 2, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    My husband is nearly deaf so most of the time he watches tv without the sound. When I had the flue earlier this year and spent many hours on the couch, I watched “Dances With Wolves” with him and cam to a new realization of how much movie music informs our senses. That movie has very little dialogue, maybe half in Lakota. Without the music or the dialogue, the movie falls pretty flat. Music adds a sensual dimension to our lives, enriching and creating empathy and emotion. I love that you’ve included music with your novel, Bonnie. Can’t wait to read it.

  3. Bonnie Grove May 2, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    I just picked up a copy of Jude the Obscure.
    Great to hear you enjoyed Talking to the Dead! Thanks so much .

  4. Bonnie Grove May 2, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    I love a great movie score, Catherine. I haven’t watched Dances with Wolves in a long time, but now I think I’ll have to check it out again.

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