#writing #music: “Wallflower” by #PeterGabriel


There comes a time when all veneers must fall.

So many of us want only our brighest, strongest, best of selves to be seen. We don’t want anyone to know how broken we are. We build up the face we know others like to see on us, are comfortable seeing on us. Others wouldn’t know what to do with our weak, broken selves. They’ll mock our pain. They’ll shrug us off, bored of us. They’ll stand off to the side with limp arms, silent, waiting for us to fix ourselves so they don’t have to.

But for many–me included–one cannot fix one’s heart alone.

I think that’s why I’m drawn to the concept of soul mates. I know not every writer, let alone the romance writer, is keen on the idea. Real and fictional young people do fall in and out of love, after all. It’s happened to our friends and family, to characters like Feyre in Sarah J. Maas’ court series. Or there are those like my mother, widowed, daily debating if she can risk her heart with another person when the one she’d once vowed to grow old with died before his 60th birthday.

One of the most difficult things to do–more than facing one’s monsters, more than fighting one’s own murderous demons–is sharing the broken parts of one’s self with another soul. Your own two hands must grab hold of your ribs. Snap them open. Hold out that charred, cut, beaten thing called a heart, that thing you’ve done your damndest to not think about for years. It’s not like you’ve really needed it to live. Look how far you’ve come without it. Isn’t that enough?

You may tell yourself yes. You might yell yes time and time again to fill your ears with so many yes‘s it must become true.

And yet there will always be at least one echo that comes back to you:


This is where I come from when I write with the voice of my novel’s heroine, Charlotte. She’s been showing everyone her angry self, her superior self, her musical self for years. Those selves helped her wake up every day without screaming.

But what happens when she meets someone else who wears his own version of a “best” self, whose past is nothing but glass shards sharp enough to draw blood the moment they’re touched?

I have never had much of a romantic nature–Bo can attest to that–but the orchestral music of Peter Gabriel‘s New Blood has a way with my imagination, inspiring it to draw the intimate moments when two at last find the courage to discard every veneer and share all that they are–not just the brightest, nicest selves, but the bloody and broken, too.

Give your characters some time alone with the piano and strings. Let the tentative build  guide their hands to open themselves and share those broken pieces. And when the strings and piano swell at last, may your characters find that even the sharpest edges fit together.

And become one.

Thanks so much for reading. Check out my Books page for more on Fallen Princeborn: Stolen as well as my free fiction from the wilds.

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

28 thoughts on “#writing #music: “Wallflower” by #PeterGabriel

      • Darnit, the beach again! But hang on–Bo has ALL Peter Gabriel’s stuff. Are you referring to the New Blood live version of Solsbury Hill? I adore that version. I’d have it on in the car when my daughter was but a toddler and the boys growing in my belly. She called that song the “butterfly song” because…bear with me…the live version has a little riff of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (Ode to Joy) in it, which is used in The Little Einsteins’ Huge Adventure, which is about helping a little monarch butterfly travel to the big butterfly family picnic in Mexico.
        It’s a gorgeous song. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I love Peter Gabriel:). I have noticed that Youtube regularly throws a hissy fit when someone from a different country/territory sends a link – sadly… I would suggest that you hunt down Listening Wind which is a hauntingly beautiful track – though I’m not sure if there is an instrumental version. It’s on the album Scratch My Back, as well as the soundtrack that was used during the show put on in The Dome to celebrate the millennium, called Ovo. That is also worth listening to…

    As for soulmates… I am sure there is such a thing, but it’s vanishingly rare. Once again, a lovely article, Jean:))

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, Peter Gabriel, one of those artists who knows how to reach inside his listeners and touch their emotions. Hadn’t heard this one, so thanks for sharing it with us.

    I think you might be right about how writers conceive soul mates. All my favourite story-tellers, from classical to modern seem to have that notion at their heart. My current slow-read is The Odyssey, which seems to be an examination of different forms of passion, all set up in contrast to the love shared by Odysseus and Penelope…quite beautiful, and compulsive reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oooo, I’ve never read Odyssey, but you made me think of a classic that goes AGAINST my idea–Count of Monte Cristo. I remember waiting for the sweethearts to come back together, but…they never do. Hmm. Makes me wonder if that kind of relationship is worth exploring in lit, too….

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Like yourself, I often allow music to dictate a story or characters course depending on the context of how the song makes me feel whilst I am contemplating a piece of fiction.

    Or I just give up and start nodding my head along if I get frustrated, haha!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: #readers, #celebrate with #BestSelling #RiverVine #stories & Fallen #Princeborn: Stolen– #FREE for a #Thanksgiving #Giveaway! | Jean Lee's World

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