The Playlist

Here’s the thing about writers: we have playlists.

On my iPod, I have probably four or five different ones that help me get in touch my character. I have one for specific events. Romantic or tender scene? Check. Action? Check. Emotional or sad? Check. For every playlist, there is one song that speaks to me specifically about a character or a character’s interactions with another specific character.¬†For instance, I currently have You Found Me by The Fray on repeat because I love how it speaks about the characters and what they’re going through. Hazel has her own anthem and it’s pretty badass.

The thing about playlists though is that I have to be very careful about the songs. I mean, I really love Radioactive by Imagine Dragons but it has nothing to do with the story so no matter how badly I would love to have the song come up next on the shuffle, it won’t. But you know what it is? The Death of Jane Seymour from the Tudor soundtrack. Odd choice right? That’s because Seymour gives off an emotion that influences the mood.

I don’t want a metal song playing when I’m writing a death scene. I want a sad, moving song that makes me weep. This allows me to pour any kind of emotion I’m feeling into the book, which is what a playlist


the downside to being a struggling writer

see how crazy I am. Love me.


You know when you walk into a bookstore and you look around and wonder how on earth anyone can actually put their thoughts and dreams on a few pages? I do. And now I know just how terrible it is to be a struggling author. The competition is fierce but you try not to think of that because every piece of advice ever given (by famous authors and others) say that you should write for yourself.

I say that’s complete bullshit. You should never write for yourself because you aren’t the one with a story to tell. It’s your character(s) that run the show. You are nothing more than a pair of hands putting the words into a computer and hoping to God that it makes sense at the end of the day. By the way, “day” in this context actually means nighttime. At the moment I’m typing this it is 6:41 am and I have been up for like… a really long time. Too long. I’m exhausted and want to go to bed but can’t because what’s the point by now? Luckily, I don’t have a life outside of my bedroom. Except to go to a specific restaurant but that’s not really prevalent.

At this point in my life I’ve done nothing really worthwhile so I hear a ticking clock in my head when I’m not writing. 24/7. It’s a constant nuisance telling me that I’m wasting time not typing away like a madman. But here’s the thing: no matter how long I stare at this blasted screen, words simply won’t come out of my fingers. Because it’s not my story. It is my character’s and she tells me what to write and when to write. And God help me if I do something she doesn’t want. If it’s wrong, I feel it. Literally. That is not a hyperbole or whatever you want to call it. It actually makes me angry. Even though I’m in a deep sleep, I will wake up and at 4 am start correcting what I wrote before. Fortunately, now that I’m on my final draft I can instantly tell when something isn’t sitting well and I correct it then and there. Even if it’s a whole chapter. Because damn it, I want my sleep. So I grind my teeth to the point I have a massive headache but still I write. That’s just the way it is. But how can I possibly explain this to my family and friends who have no clue what the hell is wrong with me? As far as they are concerned, it’s only a story – one that probably won’t even get published at that. And you know what? They’re probably right. At this point, I don’t care. I just want this other voice OUT. OF. MY. HEAD. But when she’s silent, I miss her. It’s the kind of relationship that will get you thrown into the looney bin if you aren’t careful.

But guess what: I wouldn’t want it any other way. There is nothing quite like finishing a chapter and knowing deep in your bones that this crazy, insane, frustrating and sometimes painful career is what I am meant to do. Nothing has ever felt made more sense in my life. It isn’t easy. If it were, everyone could do it. And believe me when I say that not everyone can. This is something that completely consumes every part of your being. If you aren’t writing, you’re thinking about it. The only thing I can see comparing it to would be a film major. As they are well aware, some things require more than dedication. It requires you to give up a part of yourself that will affect your life. Ever since I started this thing, I feel as though I simply muddle through life until I get that small, nagging voice telling me to write. That’s when I come alive, I get to be most like myself, which is stupid because I’m not even in the dang book. It’s come at a cost though; I have a nasty sleep schedule and my life is stuck in a world that doesn’t move until it’s told to be someone else. That world doesn’t pay for itself. I somehow have to make money to support myself. But I can’t imagine doing anything else. I would be lousy at it and I would probably get fired the second day. I guess that’s why it’s a “struggling” writer.

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