One of the most beautiful things about music is that it can give a voice to voiceless. Small, intimate stories–happiness, sadness, the heartbreak of everyday–have a place. They often take center stage, dramatizing what each and every one of us feel at some point in our lives. Even if I cannot relate to every single lyric in a song, I can emphasize with the emotion and feeling behind it.
The first Act of my novel is all about how mundane and disappointing life can be; how the dreams we had as children never really come true the way we expect them to. Every day is a struggle for my protagonists and it is only when they meet each other that these characters can begin to heal and dream again.
The song “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman is an anthem for my female protagonist. Prior to the start of the novel, she is filled with such hope and faith. She truly believes the relationship she is in will save her and that she will live a happy and fulfilled life. But, by the time Act 1 kicks into high gear, she is quickly realizing that her life is just a series of disappointments. Her long-term boyfriend uses her. She works a dead end job. And she has no one around her she can trust. She traded in her dreams and happiness in order to satisfy others and she is now paying the price.
“Fast Car” beautifully illustrates the tiny tragedies we experience every day. What really strikes me about this song is how matter-of-factly Chapman sings. She is heart broken, but she accepts her lot in life. She may dream of running away in a fast car, but she makes no moves to change her life. My protagonist is the same way at the beginning. She is very aware of how far she has fallen, but she is terrified of leaving. It is easier to accept life the way it is then venture into the unknown. What my protagonists needs to learn is that she can’t be passive. She needs to take back the reigns of her own life. She needs to get in that fast car and drive far away from her current situation. And she does. It wasn’t my intention to end the first Act with my two protagonists driving away together, but it’s a fitting start to their new beginning.