13.5.11 | By: Megan Langham

Soundtrack to Minor Endeavours

Just the other day a brilliant friend of mine mentioned a writing exercise she'd come across. A challenging writing exercise. A fun challenging writing exercise. Basically one must do these things to succeed:

1. Take a Technological Purveyor of Music (such as an iPod) and set it to shuffle. Or you can be adventurous, like I was, and do a QuickMix on Pandora (which is as good as a guarantee that you've never heard some of the songs you're going to use).

2. As soon as the first song starts playing, start writing. I think this exercise was originally meant to involve fanfiction, but who says you can't use your own works as well? Don't put too much thought into the process, and don't bother trying to force the writing to the song -- just let the music carry your pen along.

3. When the song stops playing, stop writing. Don't edit anything. (I mean, I suppose you can edit if you feel the need; but that wouldn't be fair, because I didn't edit.) Now revel in the unrestrained freedom and flow of your words. Skip the next track, which happens to be the soundtrack of the latest Indiana Jones movie. Write another drabble, which happens to be gentler and stronger than the one before. Hopefully they will not all be as depressing as mine. (For that I blame my tendency to listen to depressing music.)


Here, now, are some of my attempts. Note the word "some", and be warned! If you decide to follow through with this, life will get away from you. 

Scarborough Fair - Sarah Brightman (Horatio Hornblower)

The small dark woman gazed out of the window, watching as the rain streaked the glass like heaven's tears. You knew what you were doing, she reminded herself, pressing her lips together tightly as she always did when her heart was hard-pressed. It's the life of a sailor's woman, the life of every sailor's woman... don't sulk, Maria, as if your fate was yours alone.

Oh, but how hard it was not to wish for what could never be! If only she could know for sure that he loved her, that his farewell kiss had been cold and his apology brusque only because he was late already, and his mind was elsewhere, and his ship was waiting... 

"I should have been born a ship," she said suddenly, fiercely; and then she laughed. Tears from her eyes slid onto her tongue, tasting salty and pungent like the ocean that separated her from her heart.

The Magic Hour - Andrew Peterson (The Horse and His Boy, or thereabouts)

Stars twinkled above them, stars distant enough to be harmless and pretty. The grass beneath the young queen's slippers was damp and thick, like a lush carpet anointed with dew. She glanced at her husband; he had thrown his head back, his fair hair almost white against the background of dark forest, and his eyes were shining with the reflection of the stars. 

"You were a fool to bring me out here at this hour," she whispered, sliding her hand into his. 

"I know I was," he said. "Hush -- can you hear that?"

The woman shook her dark head. "No, there's nothing. What did you think you heard?"

"'Tis strange," said the man; he blinked away his bewilderment and turned back to his wife with a smile. "Nothing, as you say. I just ... I just thought I heard a voice. It was a clear voice when I thought I heard it, deep and clear, but ... this hill can do strange things to a man at midnight. Never mind."

Mystery of You - Red (Daniel Deronda)

After hours of weeping, of gasping, of beating her fists against the wood of her bedstead, Gwendolen gave in to the truth. 

You, Gwendolen Harleth -- you are the wrong, not the wronged. He was right to leave you, because you would have drained his life like a vampire, like a bloodsucking leech. 

It was true. It was true, and she hated that it was true ... if it had been said by another woman, jealous of her beauty, she would have brushed it away with a laugh and a toss of her golden head. But she could not laugh at a voice from heaven who spoke in her thoughts.

I love him. I love him like the last rose of summer loves the light, and I would have killed him. I am and I will always be a murdereress. Oh, Daniel whom I loved, I am sorry ... oh, my husband whom I hated, I am sorry. I am sorry always.

Memories - Within Temptation (The Lantern Bearers)

If it had only been her death, he could have borne it. If he could have known beyond doubting that she was at peace with God, he could have lived in the faint shadow of that peace. 

But she was not dead. She was very much alive -- oh, dear God, so alive! -- and she had chosen another. Could an unwanted child replace love, then? Had the rough golden giant captured her heart as well as her body, kept her mystery for his own (his fingers so thick and clumsy, he could never draw the magic from her hair), stolen her childhood love from her brother?

Oh, why? He was left alone now, surrounded by ghosts. Ghosts of her ringing laughter, ghosts of the glint in her eyes, ghosts of the sparks flying from her thick dark hair.

The Hardest Part - Coldplay (Volunteer Mission, loosely)

This is something he has to do himself. 

But I am his friend -- I am his brother! Doesn't that count for anything? 

You are his friend. You are his brother. And because you love him, you will let him go.

I can't let him go! I will do anything -- anything -- but not that. Please, not that.

You can be there. You can wait beside him. You can hold out your hands, ready to catch him when he falls after his baby steps, but -- and this is the very important thing -- he must take those steps alone. I know you are the stronger of the two. Would you keep him weaker than yourself forever? My son, that is not love. That is the heart of devouring.

At least let me give up something for him. At least let me help him in that way. 

I have already told you what you may give up, my son. Give up your wish to give.

3 missives:

Anonymous said...

Oh, Megan, these are beautiful. Your writing always holds so much emotion, so much feeling. It's always a joy to read.

And now you've got me addicted to this...

Lilly said...

Ooh good, I understood 4-ish of the five. And they were so good! Have you seen my "the hardest part" drabble? *hugs*

Megan L. said...

Aw, thanks, you two. ^.^ These are ridiculously addicting, aren't they? But they're so much fun it doesn't really matter.

(And I haven't seen your drabble, Lilly -- send it to me? I looked on the forum thread, but it wasn't there.)

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