Writing Soundtrack #1 – Narcisse

This post was inspired by this post on Writing And Musing. It made me think of all the times I’ve heard a song that totally fit with whatever I was working on, so today I want to share some of the songs that I associate with one of my characters.

Her name is Narcisse, from my in-progress  fantasy novel Growing Magic. She’s twenty-seven, raised in a relatively privileged environment by superficial parents who didn’t really pay her much attention. Her skill as a manipulator gets her their blessing to attend her choice of school in her study program of choice, and she graduates a talented Sorcerer in a particular and specialized field — one most would consider unnecessary philosophy on the origins of magic. Then, since she has nothing in particular to do with herself, she carves out a niche for herself in the research department, where she eventually gets herself into trouble because she’s a smartass and sticks her nosey nose into places she shouldn’t.

The first song I have for Narcisse is Extraordinary Machine, by Fiona Apple.

fionaappleextraordinarymachine336774

I certainly haven’t been shopping for any new shoes
-And-
I certainly haven’t been spreading myself around
I still only travel by foot and by foot, it’s a slow climb,
But I’m good at being uncomfortable, so
I can’t stop changing all the time

I notice that my opponent is always on the go
-And-
Won’t go slow, so’s not to focus, and I notice
He’ll hitch a ride with any guide, as long as
They go fast from whence he came
But he’s no good at being uncomfortable, so
He can’t stop staying exactly the same

If there was a better way to go then it would find me
I can’t help it, the road just rolls out behind me
Be kind to me or treat me mean
I’ll make the most of it, I’m an extraordinary machine

I seem to you to seek a new disaster every day
You deem me due to clean my view and be at peace and lay
I mean to prove I mean to move in my own way, and say,
I’ve been getting along for long before you came into the play

I am the baby of the family, it happens, so
Everybody cares and wears the sheeps’ clothes
While they chaperone
Curious, you looking down your nose at me, while you appease
Courteous, to try and help – but let me set your
Mind at ease

If there was a better way to go then it would find me
I can’t help it, the road just rolls out behind me
Be kind to me or treat me mean
I’ll make the most of it, I’m an extraordinary machine

Do I so worry you, you need to hurry to my side?
It’s very kind
But it’s to no avail; I don’t want the bail
I promise you, everything will be just fine

If there was a better way to go then it would find me
I can’t help it, the road just rolls out behind me
Be kind to me, or treat me mean
I’ll make the most of it, I’m an extraordinary machine

Narcisse is an independent person who works with whatever she’s given to get what she wants, without getting carried away trying to get whatever she can at any price. She’s very aware of her own needs and takes care of those first – but not at the expense of others, and she puts a lot of effort into the needs of people she cares for. This applies to relatively few people, as she does not trust openly or easily. “I certainly haven’t been spreading myself around.”

Although she does have certain standards of living and can’t cook worth a damn, she’s not overly concerned with money or living within the same grand means in which she was raised. If this means she doesn’t always have the most specialized resources at hand, she is sure to at least have the tools and skills necessary to handle whatever she needs to anyway. “I certainly haven’t been shopping for any new shoes.”

Her parents, before she cut contact with them, didn’t really think she would amount to much as a magic user. They had more political things in mind, and as their only child they were hoping she would marry and link them to a more important family. When they did pay attention to her as a child and young woman it usually resulted in some personal relationship of hers being shut down, on the grounds that it was for her own good. “I seem to you to seek a new disaster every day / You deem me due to clean my view and be at peace and lay / I mean to prove I mean to move in my own way.” Also, “I am the baby of the family, it happens, so / Everybody cares and wears the sheeps’ clothes / While they chaperone.”

She is changeable, almost flighty, and changes her academic concentration many times. The result is a sort of selective well-roundedness in whatever had happened to interest her at the time. “But I’m good at being uncomfortable, so / I can’t stop changing all the time.”

The main antagonist of the story is rigid and self important, and the main conflict of the story stems from his inability to stomach Narcisse as a younger talent invading his field of study. (She also makes off with one of his experimental spells, though.) But the reason she’s able to make strides ahead of him in said field is because she has a fresh take on things and is more willing to embrace new ideas. “I notice that my opponent is always on the go / -And- / Won’t go slow, so’s not to focus, and I notice / He’ll hitch a ride with any guide, as long as / They go fast from whence he came / But he’s no good at being uncomfortable, so / He can’t stop staying exactly the same.”

The other main protagonist of the story, Os, is by turns impressed and exasperated with Narcisse because she doesn’t really know what to do about the main problem they both face. Still, Narcisse remains optimistic. “I promise you, everything will be just fine.” Also, “If there was a better way to go then it would find me.”

 

The second song is Losing Streak, by Eric Ostrom.

Daisy I’m leaving your shadow behind
In the room where you stood when you told me your mind was up
You were leaving and nothing could stand in your way

Now you are gone but your shadow remains
It’s a stain on the rug, it’s a hole in my brain
Where the rain gets in, and Daisy it’s raining today

And now I’m standing at the door
I won’t live here
Anymore after today
Now that I’m leaving Daisy behind
Daisy’s shadow behind

Somehow I sleep through the nights and I work through the days
I’m as sane as can be and it’s driving me crazy
Oh Daisy, this isn’t the way that I thought it would be

I’ve tried to forget and I’ve tried to remember
The words that came out of your mouth when you ended
Your five year losing streak, waiting around for my heart to touch ground

And to see you the way that you saw me in half
With your razor-sharp eyes on the prize that would never be
Yours, or mine, or ours, or anyone’s

And now I’m standing at the door
No one lives here anymore
After today
Now that I’m leaving Daisy behind

I don’t have as many straightforward connections for this song, but the line “I’m as sane as can be and it’s driving me crazy” has always stuck with me. And the “I’ve tried to forget and I’ve tried to remember / The words that came out of your mouth” part, because I know that exact feeling. Both knowing and not wanting to know what someone said to you once that really struck a nerve, because you knew it was dead on.

At some point, Narcisse had a girlfriend (probably not literally named Daisy) for several years who eventually got tired of Narcisse always changing her area of study. It didn’t bother her at first, because lots of people change their majors, but it started to wear on her that Narcisse didn’t seem to want to settle. They broke up for it, and the core reason behind that breakup has always stuck with Narcisse. “It’s a stain on the rug, it’s a hole in my brain.”

Then there’s graduation. Narcisse finally settles on continuing her research in the most recent field that she tried because she finds it deeply interesting, but settling on one thing and closing off her options is still difficult decision. “Where the rain gets in, and Daisy it’s raining today.”

So she starts a new chapter of her life, finally doing what her ex wished she would do but they’re long past the point of getting back together. “With your razor-sharp eyes on the prize that would never be / Yours, or mine, or ours, or anyone’s.”

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