Music In Writing: Part Two – Memories
Last week I spoke about using music to help you pace your writing. This week I want to talk about memories.
Sound is one of our most primitive senses. A song can take you back and unleash a lifetime of memories.
When we teach at Writers Write we use the following prompt: What was your favourite song when you were 16? Write the scene.
Anthony Ehlers, my esteemed colleague and memoir-ish slave driver, made me write this scene:
The sea is as grey as the sky. The pale sand and dry Fynbos do little to add the scene. The squawking gull shatters the silence and the subtle pallet. Bloody bird.
My window is speckled from the relentless spray of the sea. I lie down on my unmade bed and turn my back on the room. I can only see the sea now. Voices come and go. My parents, their friends. Over-full hearts in an over-full holiday house. I have no desire to talk to them. An overdose of cheerfulness and yet another request to go join the boys on the beach. Which boys? My brother and his idiot friend or his seven-year-old brother? No thank you. They can keep their ball games and sand castles.
I dig in my bag and pull out a tape. The label worn off, the pencil words faint: Depro. This tape confounds my parents. Who listens to a tape called Depro? But I know it by heart. Every song, every word. I hear the footsteps coming closer. I slip the tape into my radio and press the earphones to my ears.
“It’s that tape again.” I hear my mother say over her shoulder as she peeps into my room. I press play, turn up the volume and pretend I don’t hear them. Def leppard, Love bites, pours into my skull. REM, Everybody Hurts is next.
Yes, it’s that tape again.
I had forgotten about that tape, that holiday and those sullen, pubescent emotions. Music can bring so much to life.
Last week I suggested that you choose the soundtrack for your book, this week try creating a soundtrack for your life and dive into those scenes. Just as I had songs that I clung to as a sixteen-year-old, your character was once, or is still, a teenager. Create that playlist. Give each song a memory.