Music Monday: Somedays by Regina Spektor

“Somedays” by Regina Spektor

Background: I love Regina. I really, really do.

Favorite Line: “They’re so much stronger than the friends you try to keep/by your side.”

My song history: I found this when I was immersing myself in as much Regina Spektor as I could lay my ears on, and this is one that kept coming back to mind.

What drew me in: I love this idea that a day can work outside of you and against you. That some days “come and go like someone else’s days/They come and leave you behind someone else’s face/And it’s harsher than yours.” That last bit is SO key for me. Because you know it’s true… there are days when you say things and you react sharply to other people, and you know it’s not you, but you couldn’t stop yourself in the moment.

For my writing: This song is for my dear Savannah. She’s a character in Jethro that I know a lot of people won’t like. She’s gorgeous, untouchable, and she rules Jethro High with an iron will. But Savannah is also vulnerable. She’s been hiding behind the mask of perfection so long that when things start to get out of control she just about loses it, and she tries her best to make enemies of the very people that should have her back—she just can’t feel comfortable with the fact that they also know all her secrets.

Music Monday: “Ashes and Wine” by A Fine Frenzy

“Ashes and Wine” – A Fine Frenzy

My Song History: This is a song about giving up on a relationship, or rather, being right at the point where you realize that things aren’t going to work, so giving up might be the best option.

According to my last.fm, this is the most commonly played song on my laptop. I’m not too surprised. I use this for writing on repeat constantly. Somehow it always puts me in the mood for writing Daughter, even though the lyrics and the story of the song are nothing like the story it inspires me for. I just love A Fine Frenzy, from the first time I heard “Almost Lover,” and something about the music and the ups and downs of Alison Sudol’s voice inspires me and makes me want to write.

Favorite Line: “Is there a chance/a fragment of light/at the end of the tunnel/a reason to fight?”

(I also LOVE “All the same/I don’t want mudslinging games”)

What Drew Me In: Quite honestly, the title. Such a delicious promise of wreckage. Something beautiful that’s turned into something desolate. And desolation is a feeling music does help me with…

For my Writing: As I said, this song is an inspiration for my WP, Daughter of the Falling Leaves. Surprisingly this was actually the key to unlocking a big conflict/fight scene in the story for me. Since then it’s become a general inspiration for the overall story. Even though the song is about a relationship ending, its general feeling of melancholy and wanting desperately to fight for something that you may not be able to win is perfect for this story. Because maybe it’s worth it, even if you can’t win.

Here’s to You, Judy Blume.

What book made you realize you were doomed to be a writer? 

The book that did me in was Just as Long as We’re Together, by Judy Blume. Yes, I’m a Blume-r. I started a deep love of reading before I really could read—somewhere there is a VHS of me reciting the picture book Who’s a Pest? from memory when I was four years old, before I knew more than how to spell my name. I raced through book after book after book, reading anything and everything I could get my hands on. Fiction, nonfiction, mystery, fantasy, it all had me enthralled. I gobbled up classics like The Secret Garden and Little Women and The Hobbit.

And then, when I was eleven years old, a friend made me read Just as Long as We’re Together. I’d read Judy Blume before, though I didn’t realize that what I was holding now was the same author as the Fudge books—which I loved for a totally different reason—but when I read Just as Long as We’re Together, I knew I’d found the thing I really and truly loved. Teen fiction. Young Adult fiction.

I was too young to even be considered a Young Adult, but Blume’s stories struck such a deep chord with me—maybe because I was on shaky footing with the friends I thought would last forever, maybe because I was an “early bloomer” puberty-wise and Blume dealt with those sensitive subjects so deftly. I couldn’t get attached to the Babysitters’ Club or Sweet Valley High books that friends were reading and loving so much. They seemed so paltry—Blume’s characters seemed real. Three-dimensional people with souls and pasts and lives of their own.

And I wanted to be able to create that. I wanted to write books that people could walk away from feeling like they had new friends, new loves, new people dear to their hearts. Stephanie Hirsh and Rachel Robinson (with her own book as a sequel) are still a part of me today. Insecure teenagers fighting to define themselves and their beliefs and motivations—that feeling, that fight, is what made me want to be a writer. What made me want to examine the struggles of the heart and the complications of loving people but needing to be true to yourself, no matter what.

I drank those books down, every Blume I could get. Deenie. Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. Then Again Maybe I Won’t. It’s Not the End of the World. And then I haunted the YA shelves in my local bookstores—you know, back when it really was just a couple of shelves, usually hidden in the kids’ section?—looking every single time for something more. I was starving for young adult books. And there were a few out there… but mostly I was running across things like Lurlene McDaniels‘ books—where somebody always dies and everybody else is left tortured and ruined for it—and that kind of melodrama was not what I was looking for.

I just wanted good characters. Great characters. Characters that I wanted to stay up late at night on the phone with. That’s what I found in Blume’s books, and it took me a long time to find characters as great in YA again—though it’s certainly not hard now. And maybe it’s not because there were other kids out there like me… who heard that voice in the vast wilderness of literature and finally recognized something that was their own.

My writing has taken a different turn than the contemporary Young Adult that I started making stories up for when I was ten or twelve, but the heart behind the writing has been the same—has strengthened, really. I’m trying my best to capture the kind of power that goes behind emotions when you’re a teenager, and I love the way that fantasy highlights that, and I enjoy putting (hopefully) believable people into impossible situations and see how they deal with them. What’s most important to me is the honesty of the emotion.

So here’s to you, Judy Blume. Thanks for giving me my spark. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

D is for Doctor Who

Today I started watching Doctor Who with my husband. We watched the first episode, and are planning on doing an episode a day. This is his first experience with the Doctor. I myself am simply shamefully behind. And by “behind” I mean I have yet to see the last two David Tennant episodes and have yet to expose myself to the eleventh doctor.

Mainly this is because I was getting married and a little too busy to catch up on all my TV shows (of which there are multiple I’m behind on, I have to admit!) (Fandom goes by the wayside when you’re busy trying to organize a wedding and keeping financially afloat, etc.) but partially this is also because I was being very reluctant, again, to let Eleven into my life, but now that it’s been some time, and I’m getting to share the show with my hubby, I think I’ll be ready by the time we get to Eleven this go around. (Though with my luck, he won’t!)

Anyhow. For those of you not familiar with the show, the Doctor (yes, that’s his name, his full name, so far as you’re concerned) is a Time Lord, the last of an alien species who can both see and travel space and time. He does this in his TARDIS—that’s Time and Relative Dimensions in Space. He travels around both history and the universe, encountering aliens and weird situations of all types, usually running into crises, and he does the best he can to help (which is usually quite a lot, considering the fact that he’s a genius and has been around the block more than a few times.) Usually with a “companion” of the female persuasion who is full of gumption and can stand on their own feet.

I’m not going to go on and on about the show (though I do highly encourage you to watch it!) but I do want to talk about one of the bit reasons why I love the show so much, and that is its inherent message that humanity is good and capable of so much.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but in the general world of fantasy, the consensus is that humans really aren’t all that great. They’re weak, greedy, violent creatures, and there are a whole lot of fantasy races or creatures that are a whole lot “better” than them. Think about Twilight, and how Bella Swan could do absolutely nothing better than any of the vampires in the books—she was weaker, slower, had less understanding, had lower intuition, and was basically nothing in comparison to the vampires (and the wolves, to a lesser degree). She couldn’t do anything to save the day except for possibly kill herself, until she became a sparkly, shiny vampire herself.

Doctor Who is fairly the opposite. Even in this first episode that we watched today, the Doctor, despite all his great intellect and experience, had his life saved by a girl who worked in a shop and happened to have taken gymnastics when she was younger. All throughout the series (so far as I’ve seen it, and I trust, beyond that) the Doctor is always not only encouraging of humans, but impressed by their tenacity, their inspiration, and their ability to adapt. As a human who’s always looking to be tenacious, inspired and adaptable, well… 🙂

There are a lot of other reasons I love Doctor Who, but that’s a really big one, one of the biggest ones out there (other than the fact that the show is capable of heartbreakingly beautiful moments, and certainly pulls no punches). So, if you haven’t watched it yet, go watch it! It’s on Netflix, or so I’ve heard! And if you have watched it and are waiting for season 6 to start—don’t spoil me!

Image source here: http://scottysdrawings.webs.com/doctorwho.htm