The Creation Process: How a Song Can Shape a Short Story
How one song was part of the inspiration process for my most recent short story and the latest product of what I call “Thumb Fiction”—works of writing created purely on my smartphone with a thumb keyboard:
I am inspired by music much the same way background music in a movie or TV show cues you to feel a certain way. When you hear gentle, sentimental music you’re being prepped for an emotional scene. Likewise, if you hear upbeat, exciting music chances are you’re watching an action scene and you’re heart is racing. The better and more accurate the music, the more impact it has. That’s why producers pay big bucks to get big name artists to make memorable music for their scenes. If nothing else, they may pay big bucks to use an existing, highly recognized song for a trailer or other promotional purposes.
Sometimes it works the other way around. Rather than add to a scene, a song or music will create a scene out of thin air (well, in a person’s mind). Who hasn’t had psychedelic images roaming through their head when listening to a Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd song? While working at my laptop, iTunes playing in the background, my playlist will fabricate all kinds of movie scenes against the projector screen of my brain. “Ooh, that music would be EPIC for a cavalry charge,” I’d think to myself, for example.
Such was the case when listening to a mournful ballad called “Spanish Doll” by the artist Poe (who is more known for the song “Hey Pretty“). The lyrics and the haunting tune evoke images of sadness, suffering and longing. A desperate desire to reunite and make amends:
“A stranger in this world without you is all that I can ever be,
All I know that is pure and clear,
You left with me here,
In this souvenir
The context of the song easily could be taken for a lover mourning the loss of a relationship. A little research, however, shows that the entire album from which “Spanish Doll” comes from is an ode to the singer’s deceased father and unresolved feelings. A state that has left her feeling like a worn child’s toy.
Every piece of art, however, is seen from a different perspective by different people. From my vantage, the movie projector in my head was telling a different story. A story of a father missing his deceased daughter. A father with his own unresolved issues which come to head when he comes across a music-playing doll in an antique shop (the same music that inspired the story from the get-go). Add my penchant for the supernatural, add a dash of hope and…voila!…you have Adam Copeland’s bittersweet version of “Spanish Doll.”
What does that look like? You can see it here: http://adamcopelandsite.com/other-writing/spanish-doll/