I have a little confession. I’m a teeny bit in love with Florence Welch. I went to see Florence + the Machine the week before last in Birmingham and they were totally awesome. Now, you could be forgiven for thinking this is just a tenuous reason for me to extol the virtues of Florence while I’m still on a concert-high, however, the more I’ve listened to Florence + the Machine since I’ve been reminded how much their songs have been a backdrop to the goings-on in my life over the past few years. Her lyrics are incredibly moving at times and it made me realise that, as a romance writer, I have a few lessons to learn from Florence:
1. Write about what you know
It’s something we writers are frequently told but I do think Florence’s experiences bring about a spine-tingling authenticity to her lyrics. Her first album, Lungs, is said to be inspired by her break-up from her long-term partner, Literary Editor, Stuart Hammond. Cosmic Love is a fabulous example of the pain she must have been suffering, ‘The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out, you’ve left me in the dark.’
2. Don’t be afraid to show emotion
Something else us writers are always told; show not tell. Well, there’s no room for beating-around-the-bush in a three-minute song, is there? I think that’s how I’ve become such a big Florence fan; she tells it how it is. Then, she tells you what she’s going to do about it. ‘Shake it out’ is all about quelling demons and leaving them in the past, carrying a horse around on your back then burying it in the ground. Getting rid of all those horrible thoughts and emotions, shaking them off, purifying yourself and starting again. Not dissimilar to a heroine in a romance novel, when you think about it.
3. Don’t let anything hold you back
Again, should Wikipedia be believed, Florence has dyslexia and dyspraxia and yet she is one amazingly accomplished song-writer, singer and dancer. No-one has held her back.
4. Channel your inner-Florence
I turned to my friend, Mel, whilst at the concert and said, ‘She dances just like a fairy.’ You can see when Florence is dancing on stages she is living right in that moment. As writers we have to look ahead, plot, create a plan of where our story is heading. But when we write, we should be like Florence when she dances and sings, we should live in our characters’ moment.
5. Let your dog days be over
For so many reasons my dogs days are over. But, I used to listed to this song for many years wishing they could be. I started writing because I was unhappy with my life and wanted to escape to a fictional world where I could create a happy ending. I’m still not published but (especially being on the Choc Lit Search for a Star shortlist) I feel I’m progressing. Instead of worrying whether what I’ve written is a pile of poo, I banish my doubts and tell myself I have written ‘something’.