Friday, June 03, 2005

Is writing romance a great job, or what?

Coming out of my cage and I've been doing just fine.
Gotta, gotta be down because I want it all.
It started out with a kiss; how did it end up like this?
It was only a kiss.

You should've seen how the guy in the black BMW convertible stared when he pulled up beside me at a red light yesterday and caught me pounding the steering wheel with my left hand and singing "Mr. Brightside" along with The Killers. I was on my way to the dentist and I was working in my SUV.

Yes, working.

I had just switched off the radio and shoved a CD into the player. When The Killers started in on "Mr. Brightside" I cranked up the volume because I really dig that hard-driving bass line and the drums in that song. Brandon Flowers and I were starting to sound pretty good together* when I glanced over and saw Mr. Cooler-Than-You-Are-Because-I-Have-A-Beemer-Convertible shoot a disbelieving, disapproving look at me.

Hey, the classical station was playing a Bach fugue, I wanted to tell him. I do not like organ music, Bach's or anyone else's. I think organ music should be illegal. I am not going to listen to the classical station when they play that stuff; I am going to listen to The Killers.

But I'm straying from today's topic, which is how and why I was able to "work" while driving to the dentist's office.

First I should explain that while the characters in my stories aren't based on real people, they don't quite come out of thin air, either. I pinch little pieces of personality off people I've known and stick them all together until I've created a whole character. And don't tell anyone, but some of those little pieces actually come from me.

So there I was yesterday, listening to The Killers and wondering, not for the first time, if it wasn't a little odd for a middle-aged woman to still be having these visceral reactions to "that kind" of music. Shouldn't I have outgrown it by now? What's wrong with me that I can be so deeply moved by the music my husband is always telling our teenager to turn down? Am I abnornal?

I nipped that introspection in the bud rather than risk convincing myself to stop listening to The Killers. (What if I gave them up and their next CD turns out to be fantastic?) But I mulled over the "Is something wrong with me?" question because I thought I could use it for a character in the novel I'm working on.

See? I was working.

In my half-finished manuscript, the 29-year-old hero's family is telling him to "grow up"and stop engaging in a certain behavior (which is neither illegal nor immoral). But he feels driven to do what he does, and he's beginning to wonder why God made him such an oddball. So he's torn between acting "normal" to please his family and embracing his differentness.

And that's the mostly-true story of how I nailed my hero's internal conflict. I figured it out by listening to a CD and reflecting on my age and maturity level while driving to my dentist's office. By the time I got home my guy's character had jelled in my mind and I got busy writing.

*It's my blog, and I'll lie if I want.


Robyn said...

Oh, Brenda. If you could see my embarassing white-girl moves you'd shoot disbelieving looks at me, too. Apparently, I'm a card carrying member of the Never Grow Up club. Luckily, my daughter thinks it's cool instead of humiliating!

Anonymous said...

Somebody told me,
That you were a Brenda
Who sang like a Brendan...*

*well, maybe. ;)

Anonymous said...

people...and do that with dogs too

(Ginger wanted me to point that out)


Brenda Coulter said...

Robyn, maybe you and Mir and I can get together sometime and sing. If Mir will make an honest effort to get the lyrics right, that is.

My favorite sister is referring to my second book, which includes a dog that's based on her dog, Ginger.

Anonymous said...

Brenda, I'm glad that you clarified that for us I was getting worried there for a moment!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only woman of a certain age bopping down the street blasting alt rock and diggin' it. ;+) I actually had some guy around my age tell me I was too old to still be chasing rock stars. What a dork. He was so not getting the music, that he thought it had to be the hollow chested little boys.
What can I say? We're hip. (or is that word embarrassingly out of fashion?)

Brenda Coulter said...

Thanks for the laugh, Anonymous.

Yeah, I think we can still say "hip".

Heather Diane Tipton said...

"torn between acting "normal" to please his family and embracing his differentness."

Ooooh so understand that... I'm supposed to embrace my differentness??? LOL cool. I can dig it.