It started with a song… The inspiration behind For the Birds

Headphones plugged into an iPhone on a desk

This past year, I went through a bit of a writing slump. When I say a bit, what I really mean was that I was ready to throw in the towel because the book I was working on was bringing me zero joy, and I felt like I was out of ideas.

And then, inspiration hit me out of left field in the form of a quarantine album, specifically one of the songs on the album.

If you’ve followed me for a while, you already know I am a huge Bon Iver fan. I have every single album of theirs, plus a lot of their side projects, and have been known to listen to nothing else but Bon Iver for months at a time. You guys, I have a Bon Iver pillow. It’s serious.

So when Taylor Swift released her very first indie album featuring Bon Iver on one of her songs, I practically threw my wallet at her.

Side note.

Can we take a moment to bow down to the queen? Taylor Swift not only released one whole album during quarantine, a time when most of us were stripped of all creative energy, but she released TWO albums. Not only that, but she gathered folk indie greats like Aaron Dessner of The National, Justin Vernon of my beloved Bon Iver, and Jack Antonoff of Fun. to help her create an album that reached so much further than what she was already capable of. Can this just be a lesson to all of us? We can accomplish great things by seeking the talents and wisdom of those around us. Folklore and Evermore were the music darlings of 2020, and I will fight anyone who says different.

Which brings me to the inspiration behind For the Birds.

I was already listening to Taylor Swift’s surprise Folklore album on repeat, especially the song Exile, since Justin Vernon’s deep voice was like honey to my soul.

And then…the story flowed through me.

I was at work that day, and as soon as my lunch break came, I booked it to my favorite writing spot near the Petaluma River and began writing out every single thing I knew about this story as it swept through my soul. And it was all based on Exile.

The song is about ex lovers who see each other from across the room, one of them already moved on. The song goes on with a feeling of regret about the love they lost, but also a lot of hurt feelings over the reason they broke up.

I think I’ve seen this film before
And I didn’t like the ending
You’re not my homeland anymore
So what am I defendin’ now?

Home was a huge theme in Exile, and home is a huge theme in For the Birds. This song breaks my heart every single time I listen to it, and as I planned For the Birds, my heart kept chipping at the love story that was supposed to be, but ended too soon.

Thanks to Taylor Swift and her indie friends, I found my passion for writing again, the book flowed through me, and by the end of November, I had the rough draft to a novel I was proud to have written.

Note: This is an ongoing blog series about For the Birds, a book I’m currently editing and will be shopping to publishers this year. Stay tuned to keep up with details about the story, sneak peeks at excerpts, and to learn about how the publishing process is going. If you’d like to be alerted to new posts, hit the “follow” button at the bottom of this page, or join my VIP Readers Club (you get a free book!).

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