The Writing Life: Music as Muse

A warm, golden summer evening, caught in traffic, luckily in the shade of huge old trees bordering the university, but anxious about being late. I knew it was no use obsessing, it was a gorgeous evening and the bridge was up for boaters. It would come down, and I would move on, and there was nothing I could do to hurry it. To distract myself I turned on the classical station.

In a heartbeat I was out of the traffic, standing on the battlements of a  great castle, soaring with the emotional power of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. I was Alice Perrers, watching her beloved Edward riding off on the hunt, holding the morning’s pearl in one hand, the other lifted in salute in case he looked back. I was Joan of Kent, looking down on the troops riding out, banners snapping as the wind caught them up in its dance, hoping for one last glimpse of her beloved amongst the knights heading for war. As the guitar soloist (Julian Bream) was joined by the orchestra she caught her breath. There he was, armor shining. He turned, she lifted her arm in farewell…. God speed you back to me, my love.

What a gift. I’ve been hunched over the manuscript of A Triple Knot for days, deepening the emotion in a scene here, tweaking some words for clarity there. It’s easy to get lost in the mundane and forget the passion. This morning, thanks to Rodrigo, the passion is here and I’ve fallen in love with my characters all over again.

But more than that, two characters stayed as I shifted into gear and drove through a woodsy neighborhood, two Gascons with dark eyes and enigmatic smiles. What tales they told me!

And then the music ended. I was left with a sense of wonder and delight. And thankful for the traffic jam.

2 Comments on “The Writing Life: Music as Muse

  1. I had the good fortune to hear John Williams playing the Concierto de Aranjuez some years ago. Rodrigo was in the audience and stood to take a bow. Some pieces of music have that ability to transport you to the most wonderful places!


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