I just got back from being on vacation for a week. I had both the work and the personal laptops with me, neither came out that often and I am FINE with that. Also, I did not write a single word, and I am fine with that, too. However, that doesn't mean I wasn't thinking about writing and characters and romance, and whatnot.
Firstly, I chose Bellweather Rhapsody, by Kate Racculia, for my vacation reading. You can read my more elaborate review here (and really, I could have rambled on even more about it), but the short version is that if 1) you were a band geek in high school and/or 2) you've ever feared your passion and talent destroying you, I believe you will enjoy this book. I couldn't put it down, and like I said in my review, it spoke to me.
On a vaguely-relevant note* (this is all going to tie together coherently, I promise, just bear with me), those of us on vacation attended an a capella concert last night. I sat with my husband, my parents, my mom's cousin, and his wife and it was a great show. This particular group is based out of a popular vacation spot and they always have ten college-aged guys performing. Mom, Cousin's Wife, and I played the role of the dirty old women and half-joked about which ones we wanted to take home with us as we ogled. In Bellweather Rhapsody, one character even comments that a capella groups are how the non-jocks get laid in college, and, well, it's a pretty astute observation.
Lest you think us total perverts, one of the things we discussed was how some of the members of the group were more naturally outgoing and charismatic than others. Some could work the crowd as soon as they entered the room, while others took some time to warm up. Regardless, as soon as they started singing (they all took turns singing lead), that's when the magic happened for every single one of them.
I remembered the first time I saw this group perform, when I was younger than the performers and not yet a Dirty Old Woman. Same situation - some guys hamming it up, while others took more of a backseat and blended into the background. There was this one guy who seemed the quietest, most reserved out of the group. He wore glasses back before it was the hipster's accessory of choice and didn't quite have the chiseled lifeguard's physique of some of his colleagues. Though he smiled and laughed with the others, he didn't say much throughout the show.
And then. It was his turn to sing lead, and he sang Sting's "Fields of Gold". This happened about 15-16 years ago, and I can still see it so vividly in my head. The look on his face as he sang this beautiful song that I'd already liked, how he made his transformation into someone who commanded the attention of the entire room with his magnetic power...teenaged me melted into a puddle of goo right there. Dirty Old Woman me looked around the room last night and saw others having a similar experience. Mr. Landen even commented on all the younger groupies melting into those puddles, though he used slightly cruder language. And when one extremely talented young man took center stage and let loose, Cousin's Wife leaned over to me and breathed "...Shit."
So what does this have to do with writing? As a romance author, I frequently wind up engaged in discussions on how to make heroes sexy, how to get them to sizzle on a page. As I learned a decade and a half ago and was reminded of last night, nothing is sexier than someone doing what he/she loves. At the concert and in the book I just read, the passion of choice was music, but really, just about anything could work. And passion in one area can easily translate into passion in another area, keeping the sparks flying. Even in a non-romance setting, shouldn't we all dig deep to find what makes our characters tick, what gives them that inimitable drive, what flips that switch to make them exciting and captivating?
*Hahaha, "note", IT'S FUNNY BECAUSE THE POST IS ABOUT MUSIC. Oh ho ho, see what I did there.