Guest Post: Lea Darragh – the Music Muse

Today, Lea Darragh writes about writing and music:

The Music Muse

lea darraghRelax your shoulders and stretch your neck. Settle in and feel the smoothness of an angel’s voice, romancing you into believing that the ballad is about you. It’s easily done. Just close your eyes for a moment and transport yourself into your perfect world. It is about you, every single beautiful word. Only you. Now open your eyes. Poise your fingers over the keyboard. You’re ready to blow your mind.

I begin writing this piece as Ed Sheeren’s latest album beats like a heart in the background. Pressing play on my iPod is the very first step in my writing process. Next comes the opening of the laptop. Nothing seems to flow, nothing seems to spill from my thoughts and onto the page as well or as heartfelt as when I have a beat, a strum, a melodic ballad coaxing what I feel into words.

Does this make me feel less of a writer, not being able to summon my own inspiration? Immediately I think, yes, of course it does, it must, right?

But then I rethink. I have to, because my next thought after that, after the self-doubt falls away and my first words of the session easily flow, I know that they are mine and no one else’s. An interpretation of how I feel about love, betrayal, friendship, hope, whatever it is that the scene I’m working on entails. They may have been coaxed out of me by another, but they are still mine, and they are beautiful…

‘I’m used, Romeo. I’m not a gift, or a queen or something to treasure. I’m a used up old pair of gumboots. I once had a purpose, but the purpose has ruined me. I’m not remarkable. I’m not worthy of goodness. I’ve nothing remotely beautiful to give you.’

He kissed above my heart. ‘Except this. I want every beat to be for me.’

‘I’m afraid.’

He lifted his face to mine and smiled then, unperturbed by my self-loathing. An uplifting, adorable smile. ‘All of that warning, and yet I’m still deeply love with you, Willow.’

…and no one is as surprised by this as I am.

Do you want to know my honest opinion about what it takes for me to write a book?

I’ve read that a real writer does not need inspiration, and that they just have the intense want to write, no matter what. But I don’t entirely agree.

What a phenomenon it would be to be able to create an entire world without having the need to look outside of ourselves to find it. Instead of hitting my head against a brick wall when the words refuse to flow, I don’t drop my head in my hands because I have failed miserably. I seek help like a sensible person.

In a perfect world, writer’s block would never exist, but it does, and I refuse to sit and force words that I will delete anyway. I’m a use-my-time-wisely kind of a writer. Inspiration factors highly, for me. Pinterest is a bottomless abyss of motivation. I probably spend as much time researching as I do writing! Advice from other authors is priceless. They keep a wayward writer honest and centred. Reader reviews, even the shockingly harsh ones that sting like a mother, push awriter. They should never deter. They should never encourage complaisance. Perhaps we shouldn’t even read them.

For me, to be a writer – and it’s taken years to even have the guts label myself one – means that I can create an entire world for people who did not exist up until the very moment I outlined their story, named them, gave them family, friends, found them a lover and encouraged them to fall helplessly in love. I have the power to make and break people. Experience a violent slap or a heart-stopping kiss. I can make them say words or admit things that I never would. The right song helps me to tweak a scene, a quote, or even a tiny movement like a wink or a shrug that is monumental to the entire feel and flow of the story.

So for me to write a story to the very end, I guess, just like reading a book, it requires me to escape into it. Like a movie with a brilliant soundtrack, I can immerse myself into fiction.

Like listening to music, writing gives me the freedom to simply create without boundaries. My mind open and my heart light, ready to connect with my characters. Music has an effortless way of making me forget where I am for a while.

I wish I could say that I’m one of those phenomenons that write because it comes one hundred percent from my own imagery, my own impression of the world, and my own motivation, and some does, but mostly I’m just not. I’d rather tell people if they want to write: don’t think little of your ability because you listened to a conversation on the bus then decided to adapt it into your book, or if you smelt something delicious that sparked an intimate dinner scene.Or for me, hearing that perfect line or deep drum beat.

Just feel it, let the world in, and then you can let your world out.

Excerpt from More of You

‘It’s all a sham, you know?’ I told him as I dug my bare feet into the soft sand.


‘Well look at this.’ I nodded toward the stunning, grand ocean at our feet. ‘It tricks into believing that the world is notcapable of creating ugliness. But there needs to be an equal reaction to life, to happiness, to the future. Something needs to be lost in order to give.’

‘Do you honestly believe that?’ he said. His tone was level. Neither challenging nor dismissive. Just genuinely intrigued.

I shrugged. ‘It’s the truth.’

‘By that reasoning, surely when something is taken, something needs to be given back,’ he said.

‘You don’t agree with me,’ I said when I’d detected a hint of dubious inflection in his tone.

He smiled apologetically. ‘I don’t. Ethan died because someone ran a red light. Not for any other reason. My parents died because no one has found a cure for cancer or heart disease. The problem is that we try to rationalise death, when really there are no answers. It’s a reality that people make mistakes. Our bodies a not built to last.’

I let that sit with me as I watched the ocean. I knew this.

‘The thing is, I really do want to move on, but I don’t ever want to forget Ethan.’

‘I know. It does get easier.’

My hangover was taking its toll. My broken heart was heavy in my chest. Tears slipped down my face. ‘I’m just so exhausted.’

‘It’s difficult to stop that ache, that burn of anger in your diaphragm. The sleepless nights as we agonise over everything that we could have done differently.’

I wiped my cheeks, watching him for a moment. ‘Was it sudden, when your parents died?’

‘Cancer took mum in a matter of months. Less than a year later, my dad turned the kettle on to make a cuppa and just collapsed, dead. No warning. Here one minute, gone the next.’

‘As a doctor that must have been very difficult.’

He laughed once without humour. ‘Guilt is one of the most debilitating emotions that a person can suffer from.’


We watched the surf roll along the sand, like watery fingertips reaching for the earth, grasping to be at one with it but hopelessly letting go. Didn’t stop it from throwing itself forward again.

More about Lea Darragh

Almost MineI am a married mother of three who has lived in the Gippsland area my entire life, blessed with family and friends who, during a cold and stormy night, introduced me to the breathtaking world of fiction. I began to write…and I haven’t looked back.

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