As The Other I, I spend a lot of time writing about music so it’s probably no surprise that the characters in The Winter Passing are wrapped up in sound.
The main character has synesthesia (she sees the colour of sound) and it’s a chance meeting with a musician that sets her story going. Throughout the book the records they love, the songs they play each other and the ones he sings are mentioned (although fairly obliquely). Music is a comfort and a connection between them.
I don’t think I could have written this story without weaving music through it. More than that I don’t know that I can (or want to) write words that aren’t in someway connected to sound.
So, mainly for myself (and during fits of procrastination) I made a playlist on Spotify of the tracks that filled the ears of my characters. You can find it here.
Roughly in the order they would appear in the novel, they are:
- The Cure – Pictures of You
- Pixies – Where is my mind?
- Fuzzbox – Irish Bride
- The Yards – Fireflies
- Tom Petty – Wildflowers
- Francoise Hardy – Stars
- Vashti Bunyan – Train Song
- Blind Faith – Can’t Find My Way Home
- Felt – Primitive Painters
- The Charlatans – You’re A Big Girl Now
- The Staves – Let Me Down
- Graham Coxon – Brave the Storm
- Trashcan Sinatras – All the Dark Horses
- Jeff Buckley – Lover, You Should’ve Come Over
- Alice in Chains – Don’t Follow
- Imogen Heap – Hide and Seek
- Bat for Lashes – Moon and Moon
- Nick Drake – Northern Sky
- Big Star – I’m in Love with a Girl
- Kathryn Williams – The Mind is its Own Place
- Sara Forslund – Water Became Wild
- Otis Redding – That’s How Strong My Love Is
- Drugstore – Fader
- Juliana Hatfield – Simplicity is Beautiful
- Belly – Seal My Fate
- The Flying Burrito Brothers – Wild Horses.
Maybe the playlist, like the bigger story, isn’t quite done but it feels right to share it.
It feels a little bit sudden to write about letting go of this book when I’ve only just started being open about having written it. But it is where I am at right now.
The Winter Passing is now in its third draft. Most of the rogue apostrophes have been corralled, the tenses have been kicked into shape. And a lot of the slack plot points and under-developed characters have been tightened and rounded.
It feels like it is ready for more than my inner circle of beta readers. Which means I have to be ready to let go of a story that has been just mine. That I have to be ready to take on external criticism and face a few fears.
Fears? Sure. I’ve found a few.
- Can I write?
Something that constantly bothers me and to which I sometimes feel more sure of an answer than at others.
- Can I write a long story?
It would appear that yes, I can.
- I bet you think this book is about you.
Will people who know me think I’ve based characters on them? Probably. But they’d all be wrong. All of the characters in The Winter Passing are entirely fictional. Sure, they might share a hair colour, or a profession with people I know but none of them are lifted out of real life. If I wanted to write a biography of someone inspiring, I would go right ahead and do that. This is just made up stuff from my head.
- Have I written the book I wanted to read? This was one of the drivers behind starting to write. That I’ve read loads and loads of good books, great books even. I’ve fallen in love with characters and got caught up in stories. I’ve laughed and cried and been followed by their words and actions long after the last page is turned. But I’ve also been left wanting. Rather than wait for someone else to stumble on the gaps I wanted filling I tipped the story out of my own head. Is this the story I wanted to read? Pretty much, yes.
- Can I do it again? Do I want to?
I don’t know, but I think I want to try.
So, fears faced and still felt keenly I’m going to send my book out into the world on the next step of its journey. It will go first to an editor and then we’ll see what happens from there.
For me the characters are already chomping to get me to tell the next part of their story. And so, it is in a clean manuscript that I write again today, ‘Chapter One’.
I’m already excited and nervous about where this piece of writing will go.
Last week I wasn’t Riley Reynolds.
I was just a woman who had surprised herself by writing a novel and was wondering what to do with it. It still feels very new to be writing under this new name.
As The Other I (the real me – Sarah Lay) I have written about why I’ve taken a pseudenym and where the blast of creative energy to write the book came from. You can read that here.
But I didn’t become Riley straight away – a couple of years ago I was blogging excerpts from very early drafts of The Winter Passing (working title was – imaginatively – Winter).
I was also distracting myself by writing about writing. I was deep under cover and this is the first time I’ve mentioned that I played with that identity and shared those sketches.
None of the bits that I shared back then made it to the drafts of The Winter Passing which are now with beta readers. The story shaped up over the last couple of years, the characters revealed their true selves and then in the last two months ALL of the the words fell out of my head.
I still don’t know what I’m going to do with the novel I’ve written. I am still working out how to be Riley and how to be a writer of long stories.
But I’m really pleased to be here and sharing all of it.