Thursday, August 11, 2016

F is for Fourth of July at The Corral

Fourth of July is the third (and middle) installment in Debra's Holidays at The Corral Series.

I know I've mentioned it before, but I tend to get inspired by music. My genre of choice is country, and someone once said to me, "There's a story in every song". For me, it doesn't even need to be an entire song. Sometimes, a verse or a stanza or a single line can trigger an idea. So it happened with a song sung by Rodney Atkins called "The River Just Knows". There are a couple verses in the middle which go like this:

The way the sun bounced off the water
I could hardly make him out
But I could see he had a fish on
A big ole rainbow trout
The fight went on forever
And as they headed down my way, I saw his
military hair cut and the new scars on his face
Right then I knew what brought him to this place

You know the river don't talk, the river don't care
Where you've been, what you've done
Don't know why it is your standin' there
It just rolls on by whisperin' to your soul
It's gonna be alright, the river just knows

He held that fish down in the water
And he coaxed it to back to life
He said "I'll help, you get your wind back
'Cause you helped me get mine."
And all I could think to say was "Welcome home."
But I think that river said it best on its own

The first time I heard the song it made me want to write a story about a military hero who comes home wounded. I started the beginning, but didn't get much past the first page. When I decided to write a series of holiday stories, it dawned on me that the military hero book would be perfect for a Fourth of July story. Just like in the song, my hero has scars on his face from an IED explosion during a tour of duty in Afghanistan. He's sent home to recover. At one point in the story, Tyler heads down to the river to let it ease the stress and strain of life. The scene comes complete with a stranger offering him a fishing pole and a "Welcome home, son."

To get to the root of the conflict in the story (SPOILER here), I turned to another song. This one "Two Pink Lines" sung by Eric Church. In it, a guy and girl indulge in a brief summer affair that culminates in them waiting to see if two pink lines materialize on a home pregnancy test.

Yeah, that second hand just keeps slowing down
I swear it stopped twice the last time around
Yeah, we'll know the truth in 3 minutes time
We're just sitting around waiting on two pink lines
Sitting around waiting on two pink lines

When the moment of truth finally comes
She gives me a look
And then comes undone
She says, "It looks like we're lucky
Someone's smiling down."
She grabs her coat and says,
"See ya around."

In the song, the result is negative and they each go their separate ways. But I had a thought. What if it was really positive, but she lied so he wouldn't feel trapped?

So, I combined the two ideas and in my story, not only is Tyler injured in the line of duty, but he comes back to discover he has a son he never knew about. The two of them waiting on the pregnancy test results appears as a flashback in the story.

Even though I can't carry a tune in a bucket, music is a huge part of my life. For me it defines my memories and brings me endless amounts of inspiration. And when I hear those lines in the songs now, I immediately think of my characters. It makes them even more real to me.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!



  1. Wow. I felt chills reading your post, Debra.
    I get story ideas from news reports. Maybe lyricists do, too.

    1. Headlines and current events are definitely good fodder for ideas too.

      I always tear up at the "Welcome home" line in that song.

  2. Maybe I should listen to more country music, as I've never had a story idea from the words of a song!

    1. I highly recommend it! Ideas are always popping into my head...not that I have the time to do something with all of them, but still...

      And it's darn tootin' good music, too! Ha!

  3. I love listening to country music, and while I don't necessarily get inspired by a particular song, the feelings the songs create inspire my writing.

    1. Country music definitely has a unique vibe and provokes lots of different feelings.

  4. I actually never listen to country music but I love the idea that it inspires you. I like the old popular songs that were around when I was in my teens but I've never thought about them as a source of inspiration. You've put an idea in my head, though.

    1. My mom and dad listened to country while I was growing up and I hated it. I was an 80s rock girl myself. But then 'new' country came around and I fell in love with it. I now have a deep appreciation for classic country as well.