The Elvis Costello Method of Novel Writing

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, but it was also Sunday, and since my children are half a country away – therefore, unlikely to surprise me with a visit, laden with Godiva and flowers – I decided it was time to clean the house. (Shock and amazement! I never clean! Well…rarely.) My daughter returned to San Francisco in January and I’ve been putting off her bedroom until we got the plants out (south facing room, this is where they winter). The plants were sprung and are basking in the sun on my deck. Besides, my daughter is threatening to return home for the summer, so I figured it was time to change the sheets.

I house clean best by music, so I popped in Elvis Costello’s Best Of. What a freaking genius! especially early Elvis. The man has a way with words, to be sure. Every Day I Write the Book is one of my favorites, and was popular right around the time I met my husband. (1983 – yes, I am older than Methuselah. I also owned glasses that big.)

Here’s the original video, which is also quite humorous considering the Prince Charles/Princess Diana reference.

The acoustic version is also quite nice.

It’s been a while since I’ve heard this song. The references to writing a novel are dead on:

Chapter One we didn’t really get along
Chapter Two I think I fell in love with you
You said you’d stand by me in the middle of Chapter Three
But you were up to your old tricks in Chapters Four, Five and Six.

Applying the Elvis Costello Method of Writing, I should be in the trenches EVERY day, not just when the Muse hits me (or not). You can’t hone the craft of writing if you only apply yourself every once in a while. I am thinking of writing DARLINGS FOR CLEMENTINE after this verse. And of course, since I was so horrible at dialog when I first started this journey into storytelling (and pacing, and purple prose), I should start writing “the way you walk, the way you talk and try to kiss me and laugh” – in four or five paragraphs. 🙂

My hope is to eventually own the film rights and be working on the sequel. With Clementine, I have two prequels in various states of disrepair.

I was amazed to learn that Elvis Costello wrote this song in ten minutes. TEN MINUTES. Which gives hope to lightning striking with precision every once in a while, the stars aligning in perfection, and the exact combo of MegaMillions numbers in my hand.

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One Response

  1. Lightning typically cannot strike until a storm forms. Something to think about.

    And greetings from “America’s most engaging editor.”

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