Chapter 9: She's Got My Number
*Spoiler alert for Chapter 9: She's Got My Number
Just tell the story
Some of these blog posts probably look like I am making things up as I go along. That's because...I am! Sometimes, one must simply sit down and write. It doesn't matter what flows from the fingertips into the keyboard, as long as it is something.
Eventually a story emerges, and then the real fun begins.
I am terrible at jotting down my thoughts in a journal. So, of course when I was writing Gone to the Movies, I had great ideas for the eventual soundtrack and blog posts. Did I write any of that down? No...or at most, very little. So each week, I must reread my own book, believe it or not, to prepare for a blog post. Fortunately, the relational database I call my brain remembers some of the good ideas when I do this.
Some of the ideas though, are probably lost forever.
I don't know if you noticed, but there are some subtle patterns to the chapter names. The first four chapters are named Blue, Borrowed, Old, New. You know: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue...? In the United States (at least) we give these four things to a bride before she marries, for good luck.
The reasons behind me using these terms are fleeting. It seemed clever at the time, but obviously, nobody in the novel is getting married. When I began writing, I knew the main plot points of the first few chapters, and main scenes capturing those plot points. I debated going with chapter numbers, or chapter names.
I decided to use chapter names because I think it fits with the style of story better than numbers, which feel clinical and too innocuous. Going after a rustic feel to the story, I decided chapter names create more space in which the reader can find their comfort zone. Once this decision was made, I chose words that fit the story of each chapter. The names of the first four chapters just happened to coincide with the old wedding superstition, so here we are. Again, probably not as clever as I thought, but I like Easter-egg type stuff when consuming art, so I add it to my creations.
Back to the soundtrack again
By this point in the book, an attentive reader will notice that I named some chapters after songs that inspired me while writing. They would have to be a full-blown nineties music geek to see it, but it is there.
With She's Got My Number, Semisonic is back. This is a great song, and although it didn't inspire me to write the stories in this chapter, it was a perfect fit after the fact. I had a number of instances when a chapter went unnamed until something crossed my path that made sense. This was one of those instances.
She's got my number, she always did,
She can always see where my secrets hid,
Everything about me is hers to tell,
She's got my number, she always will.
- Semisonic, She's Got My Number
Of course, there are two sides to this conceptual coin in the chapter. Dustin finally works up the courage to call Hope. This has been building over a couple of chapters, and my intent was to show how lost Dustin is in all of this. He's not even sure how to call or talk to his wife about what is happening.
The other side of the coin is that he runs into Melissa in the bar on her birthday, and he senses that they are drawn to each other, yet his persistent second-guessing of himself clouds what is happening with her. Of course, being married with the responsibilities of a father, he smartly exits the situation to get back to Damon.
So, who's got Dustin's number? Both Holly and Melissa? They both get to him in this chapter. So the song definitely fits the theme of the story.
Garth Brooks? Really?
In this book, one of my favorite scenes to write was the bar scene in this chapter. This one snuck up on me though. Once I realized what was happening in the story (yes, writers don't always have everything perfectly plotted out), I really leaned into it.
I take pride in the setting descriptions I wrote in the book, and I've been complimented on this scene in particular. Inspiration for it was a mix of a bar I worked at in college and various saloon style dive bars I've visited over the years. Again, with that rustic vibe I keep referring to.
So, yes, Friends in Low Places is added to the soundtrack. Lucky for you country haters, this song is not available on Spotify! Of course, people can easily create this soundtrack in their own music player, and choose to keep this one in or out. But for me, it is a classic, and you're in my world now. Just kidding. But not really.
Sometimes the thing that pushes us over the edge is not the thing that is really upsetting us.
The book ends with Damon visibly upset about the dog getting sick that day. But, when the tears really start flowing, he admits he misses his mom. This leads to one of my favorite lines in the book. It's not overly dramatic, but you'll see it in the story more than this one time.
“It’s okay to cry, you know.”
I remember as a kid we were moving out of my childhood home. I wanted to ride in the moving truck with my dad, my older brother, and his friend. But there wasn't room, and they told me I couldn't go with them. This upset me enough to hide out and start crying.
My mom found me, asked me what was wrong, and I said I was crying because we were moving. In truth, I just wanted to ride in the moving truck with my dad and my bro. It seemed lame that I would cry about this, so I told my mom the other thing.
Anyway...even as the writer, I'll never be sure what was really upsetting Damon in this chapter. Probably all of the above. But, sometimes what people are saying is not what they are truly feeling.
Until next time, see you at the movies.
Soundtrack (thus far):
Bonus Track: Interstate Love Song - Stone Temple Pilots
Bonus Track: Rockin' Chair - Oasis
Bonus Track: Happy - The Tories
Bonus Track: Song for You - Fuel
Follow as we build the soundtrack on Spotify!