When fellow writer, Elaina James, asked me if I would like to participate in a blogging event (based around music) to link in with her guest blogs on the Mslexia site, I didn't hesitate to say yes. The only problem was, I was spoilt for choice as music is a big part of my life. I have been a member of my local Choir, Cantatrice, for over ten years and dancing (to a variety of different types of music) has been my hobby for even longer. Not surprisingly, music has featured in many of my stories in some form or another.
It was difficult to choose which to write about but then a piece of good fortune revealed itself. Elaina told me that her blog series was about chasing your writing dreams and that she'd written it from the perspective of a lyricist with stage fright (the final blog post focusing on the accidental chance to turn her words into a song with music). What a stroke of luck, for my story, 'Waiting in the Wings' had just been published in The People's Friend Special. It fitted the theme perfectly as the main character was a lyricist.
The story starts with Chris, a young songwriter, trying to write lyrics for a radio competition. He knows they want something upbeat but, because he has just split up with his girlfriend, the only words that come into his head are sad ones - words they said to each other during the breakup (I drip feed these random lines into the first part of the story). His mother sees the screwed up lines on the floor and tries to encourage him. 'Keep at it,' she says. 'Follow your dreams.'
In the second part of the story we are introduced to an older Chris who is now a successful lyricist for musical theatre. One of his best known musicals is being revived and he has been asked to write a new love song for it but once again he finds the words stalling - this time due to the death of his friend and composer, Ben.
I don't want to tell you everything, in case you intend to read it, but in the end Chris manages to write the new song for the show, using the lines he wrote (and threw away) all those years ago - but which his mother kept.
This is the final verse:
I never knew that words could cause such sorrow
Don't tell me now, wait until tomorrow
You leave a trail of footprints on my heart
I know I loved you too much from the start
Maybe I should have been a lyricist!
So, moving on to the inspiration for this story. First of all, I love musical theatre - my mother and I have seen just about every musical over the years and some of our favourites are ones with lyrics by Sir Tim Rice (Evita being my all time favourite). In fact Joseph was the first musical I ever saw and I was even in a production of it when I was about eleven.
If you follow this blog, you will already know the story but last December I was adjudicator for the SWWJ short story competition and was invited to their Christmas tea in London to award the prizes. Imagine how delighted I was to hear that the other guest was none other that Sir Tim Rice. (You can read about the day in my blog post here.)
As the society's guests, we sat at the same table and it was lovely to have the opportunity to talk to him. During tea, Sir Tim asked me a lot about my magazine writing and mentioned that his mother had liked The People's Friend. I remember how even then a story idea was forming in my head.
After the tea, Sir Tim gave a speech about his early career and, when he talked about his musicals, I couldn't help wondering how he came up with such wonderful lyrics time and time again. Had he ever had writers' block? It made me think about my story again - what if the main character couldn't find the right words because he had a broken heart?
So there you have it - that meeting was the inspiration behind my story, Waiting in the Wings... Wouldn't it be lovely if Sir Tim read it!
This blog post is part of a music themed blog event organised by Elaina James, a guest blogger on Mslexia.
Her author page on Mslexia can be found at www.mslexia.co.uk/author/elainajames.
Details of participating bloggers in this event can be found on Elaina James’ blog.