"You found the bandages inside the pen, and the stitches on the radio..."
The line above is from the chorus of one of my favorite Gaslight Anthem songs, Boxer. I remember singing it at home one day, and my husband shaking his head at first, saying he didn't get the lyrics. To me, they've always made perfect sense: through writing and music, I find a way to heal.
For as long as I can remember, when I've been upset or angry or depressed, I write. I think I got my first diary when I was in the fifth grade, a tiny, hardcover book with a real lock on it. I would hide the key in my jewelry box, tucked away under the felt so no one would ever find it. The thought of someone reading my most intimate thoughts scared the crap out of me. I was terrified of being teased even more relentlessly than I already was. Elementary school, and well, most of junior high, were not especially fun times.
As I grew older, I kept writing. My journal entries were sporadic, but whenever I was feeling frustrated or sad, getting words down on paper always made me feel better. I wrote terrible poems and long paragraphs of angsty stream-of-conscious thoughts, scribbling like a madwoman in a beat up notebook. Somewhere in my parents' house there are crates of notebooks full of stories and poems and probably a lot of really terrible writing. I couldn't bear to throw any of them away- each notebook represents a piece of me and who I was becoming.
Music became more and more important throughout high school, too. I loved punk rock; fast poppy songs by Bad Religion, Lagwagon, Pennywise, etc. Their songs were the perfect anthems to my crazy, confused life at the time. But I also found myself weeping to music from the Indigo Girls and Tori Amos. They inspired me to write better, to really try to create beautiful imagery and say what I wanted to say without flat-out saying it...if that makes sense.
My latest novel, Where We Fell (a real title!!), was inspired by two songs, both about wishing wells. The Airborne Toxic Event's Wishing Well is where I actually got the title from; it's a haunting song about feeling low and being full of regret. The other song that inspired me was A Silent Film's Danny, Dakota and the Wishing Well, a lovely song about being afraid to take a chance but then throwing caution to the wind to go after what you really want (Sidenote: these are my interpretations and how the songs make me feel. Music is so subjective, though, that someone else may get an entirely different feeling from these songs. Just sayin'.).
I understand that not everyone feels the same way about music that I do. Some people can listen to a song and not feel anything at all, even though they may appreciate the beat or the singer's voice. But I love being moved by a lyric, getting that ah-ha! moment when it seems like the band just gets me. Like they got inside my head and made sense of all my jumbled thoughts and came up with this beautiful song just for me, to make me feel better.
And I thank them for that, for giving me the words I can't find on my own sometimes.