This weekend Nate and I went to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. We go every year, stroll around the World Showcase, hand in hand, drinking and eating our way around the world. We try to go at least once without the kids, and once with. Since we were alone, we took the car. My old car (and Nate’s current car).
I say my car because I still love that thing. I bought the car for the engine. It is a fantastic engine. I giggled maniacally when I test drove that baby. And so, to this day, when we leave the house without the kids, we take the car.
And drive fast.
With the music up. Because what I didn’t fully realize back then, was that my car has a badass stereo. The kind that blows the clothes off women (to quote a movie we both love). So here we are, flying down the highway toward Epcot with the music blaring. If you couldn’t guess from the title above, that music was Imagine Dragons. One of our all-time favorite bands.
We yelled at each other over the music, suddenly reminiscing over what each song meant to us, and that reminded me of how we found Imagine Dragons in the first place: I was writing my first manuscript.
I’d given myself a thirty day challenge to actually finish a manuscript. My problem has never, ever been the writing, or even story ideas. If our recent move taught me anything about myself, it’s that when I say I’ve always been a writer, I mean I’ve always been a writer. I now have two shelves in my office dedicated to the seemingly endless stream of notebooks, journals, and printouts of books I’ve written throughout my entire life. I knew I’d always been writing, but until it was stacked in front of me, I don’t think I fully appreciated the concept that I have always had a notebook on my nightstand, and that I’ve always written stories in them.
So anyway, I gave myself this thirty day challenge. And all the while, I was sitting in bed each night (and each morning) with my laptop in my lap and Pandora playing on the television. I was obsessed with Alex Clare and had it tuned to that station every time I was writing. Thanks to Pandora’s super cool algorithms, it started playing me this hot, new up and coming band: Imagine Dragons. I loved Radioactive. I still remember the day Nate came sliding into our bedroom, “This song is the theme song for Butterfly Rebellion.” I smiled, “You bet your sweet ass it is!” I’d already written several chapters to the song.
But it was this other song, Demons, that kept coming on. It haunted me. This song was my song. That first, short manuscript suddenly blossomed into a massive, thoroughly overdone hunk of junk in revisions. Because this song was haunting me. Compelling me to write something deeper, something about that fear we all have about our inner demons, and how we want to love someone without hurting them.
I still put this song on every book soundtrack. In two-ish years I have interpreted the lyrics in a dozen different ways and found meaning in so many different ways. If you ever want to know what’s going on in my head when I write a romance, listen to Demons.
Another song on the album, On Top of the World, is also super meaningful to me. This chorus in particular is what has kept me going through months of zero sales, bad reviews, and doubts:
And I know it’s hard when you’re falling down
And it’s a long way up when you hit the ground
Get up now, get up, get up now.
Needless to say, Imagine Dragons is kind of inextricably linked to my thoughts of my first manuscript and the beginning of my writing career. And so Nate and I are taking this long, lovely walk down memory lane to the music of Imagine Dragons when I realize everything that first, terrible manuscript has done for me. I eventually shoved it in a drawer and started from scratch a story called The Storm Inside. I used the bones of that first terrible manuscript, and everything I learned while writing it, to create the book that became my first novel. But most of the manuscript stayed locked away in that binder (I assumed never to be seen again).
But the thing is, all that extra stuff I wound up writing after falling in love with Demons, it was good stuff. Wrong, terribly written with a weak heroine, and an overstuffed plot line of too much drama, but good stuff, nonetheless. It kept tickling the back of my mind–I’d left too much behind.
I eventually pulled it out and rewrote that manuscript into Tease. I love the story it became in the end, but I wasn’t ready to write that story two years ago. It was something that needed time in a drawer to stew and remix into something better.
Tomorrow night, First Draught will be talking about old manuscripts. I will be remembering that first manuscript, Imagine Dragons, and everything that has come along because of them. Please join us at 8:30 pm (eastern) or on Youtube anytime afterward.
Also, the food and drink at the Food and Wine Festival was all fantastic and I can’t wait to go back with all my boys to watch Sister Hazel in two weeks!