In the writing world, there are identification terms for how the author generally pens the story known as plotter and pantser. The pantser flies by the seat of her/his pants with a story star-bursting in passionate energy that cannot be denied. Me. Writing furiously and feverishly all at once! Nine novels in twenty years, most started and finished within months.
For an author, inspiration can come from anywhere. Out of the blue. A look, a card, a canvas, a person, a word, a song. And, unfortunately at times, nowhere…
Today as I sit by our Christmas tree (which our grown kids insisted building a toy train around), I revisit last December 23. We were at a gathering of friends; guy had a guitar; we sang along. He broke into a tune that hooked me from the start. I’m a music addict, right behind books; however, I didn’t know the song. When we got home around midnight, I sat by the Christmas tree, alone in the dark, and downloaded it.
It was a book in a song. A song in a book. A love story and a tragedy. Not only did I have to hear it, I had to write. With immediacy. The title alone, “Cover Me Up” spoke volumes. I was lost to it. My own new story, characters coming in a vivid flash. Their beauty and neediness. The up and downs of family, home, and love. On a creek bank in Georgia. A Nashville wannabe torn between two brothers since she was fifteen. One in the Marines, the other living next door. A mother with a drug habit. A hardworking, chain-smoker father. Her songs, her surroundings, her story as clear as a coffee table picture book.
I could quote lyrics to “Cover Me Up,” but it’s the whole of it. Simple, gripping, pure. My .02.
A year later, a novel 2/3 finished all because of four minutes and fifty-three seconds of another artist revealing his own soul, in one way or another. I don’t believe anyone would pick up my A Town Called Lake (on the roster for 2021) and make any sort of connection. But, credit where credit’s due.
What a treat, to wonder, to know, or not to know, why we write what we write. Happened to catch Jason Isbell talking about “Cover Me Up” recently. He and his girlfriend challenged each other to write a song in a day, departed, wrote, and reconvened. He’s a pantser, too, I guess!
Never doubt, your words can change the course of fate. -Clare Cinnamon