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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Teardrops, Guitars and Lyrics

The other day I heard a song on the radio that had me headed over to iTunes--Teardrops On My Guitar by Taylor Swift. She's also listed as co-writer of the song, which I kind of figured because she's like 22 and there's something that seems incredibly young in the lyrics.

Okay, stopped myself from digressing, but barely. :-) I always play my new music over and over for a few days and I've had time to think about the words to this song quite a bit. There are several aspects that intrigue me as a writer and have me thinking and that's always a good thing. Before I start, you can find the complete lyrics at the CMT (Country Music Television) site.

For those of you who haven't heard this song, it's basically about unrequited love. The Point of View character (why yes, I am a writer ;-) is the singer who is talking to the man she's in love with and he doesn't have a clue how she feels--he's in love with someone else.

The first idea that popped into my head was wouldn't it be interesting to do two stories? I'd start with the man's romance with the woman he met and fell in love with and the second book would be the singer's story about how she found her own love. I'll confess the reason this came so quickly to mind was that I had an idea for a set of stories like this years ago. Not exactly the same, but similar enough to remind me about them. My brain didn't linger here long, though.

I found myself intrigued by one particular line in the song: he's the only one who has enough of me to break my heart.

Hmm. This didn't spark any particular ideas for a story--maybe because I was on to my third thought so quickly--but it did stop me for a minute and I decided it held Truth.

Third thought came in fast on the heels of number two and pushed it out of the spotlight. This one had to do with another set of lines in the song: he walks away so perfectly, the kind of flawless I wish I could be.

Wow. No one is perfect or flawless. We all walk around with things we could improve in ourselves and this idea is part of what made me think the person who wrote the song was young. Oops, I'm beginning to digress again. Stopping right here and moving on with my theme. Anyway, no one is flawless, but it would be interesting to explore perception versus reality, wouldn't it? What if the point of view character--let's call her the heroine--has this crush on the hero as a young woman, maybe even while she was still in high school, and thinks he's perfect. What if the story takes place about ten years later and that's when the romance happens? What if she learns he isn't flawless and never was?

Then I started thinking about the other part of that line--the kind of flawless I wish I could be. Maybe part of what caught me on this is my own struggle with perfectionism. I spent a lot of years of my life trying to attain perfection until I had an epiphany wheeling my cart around Target one morning--there is no way to be perfect in everyone's eyes. To use the superficial example that came to me that day, what if one person believes long hair is perfect? What if another believes only short hair is perfect? There's no way to be perfect in both their eyes and trying to compromise on hair length would only leave both thinking there was imperfection. It was kind of an aha moment for me and one I'm still struggling with when it comes to my writing. I want my books to be perfect, but reading is so subjective, how can they ever be? I understand it intellectually, but in my heart, I'm still fighting with this.

But back to the song. It got me thinking about a heroine who thinks she has to be perfect. Where does that stem from? How does she overcome it? How does it impact her life?

Amazing how a song that's less than four minutes long can raise so many questions and ideas. :-) Will I write any of them? I have no clue. I get characters and write their stories. There are some authors that start with concept/plot and find characters that fit, but that's not me. I always have characters who are fully formed people come in and then they tell me what their stories are. I'll be watching, though, to see if any new characters arrive that will play with these concepts.