For me Christmas starts the first time I hear ‘Troika’ on the radio. It’s a piece of classical music that for me, always evokes Christmas excitement. So if I want to write something Christmassy, I’ll put Troika on the CD Player. And then either O Come All Ye Faithful or Fairytale of New York, depending what I want to write. And that sort of inspiration is useful if I want to write something Christmassy in summer (which is when most Christmas music and films and books are created).
Music, even if on softly on the background, can kickstart a whole association of words and ideas and images that can be invaluable for a story. There are certain songs I remember from special moments that will always represent something for me – love, loss, happiness, regret. They may not mean that to anyone else, but for me, put the right tune on, and my mood changes. Save All Your Kisses For Me by The Brotherhood of Man may seem like a cheesy song to most people, but for me, it makes me think of a certain strong feeling from my childhood, of loss and pain, and I cry.
Or there’s general pieces – if writing something warlike, I’ll use Holst’s Planets. If I want to make my reader cry, I’ll listen to One Fine Day from Puccini’s Madam Butterfly – it makes me ache with loss, and that’ll come through with what I write.
It’s easy to write the words, but the words won’t mean anything without the feeling behind it. The music can evoke the feelings, pull them out of you on to the page. Find your songs, the ones that make you cry, make you smile, make you remember, make you raise a drink in a toast, and use them.
Merry Christmas to you all. I hope it is wonderful for you all.