...but you still can't quote her in your book.
This is what I've learned this week. (Last week was the em-dash, this week it's dashed hopes.)
I listen to a lot of music, and I've read Elizabeth Wurtzel's PROZAC NATION more times than I can count. This is, it turns out, a dangerous combination for a new memoirist. You see, Wurtzel used lots of song lyrics. Dozens, possibly even hundreds of little snippets from this or that song litter her chapters, capturing whatever mood(s) she might have swung through at the moment she was writing.
I liked this idea. So as I wrote, and my moods swung, I took note of what was getting heavy rotation on my playlist, and which lyrics encapsulated the precise question or dilemma or fear I was trying to describe from some section of my life. I found some gems. Cindy Morgan singing about the years she spent trying to find herself: "I put a call out to Buddha, but he never called back..." The Indigo Girls admitting, "Ran as hard as I could, still ended up here...." Nicole Nordeman asking God, "Help me believe, cause I don't want to miss any miracles..."
I love these songs.
Now I understood, when I sprinkled these lyrics across my manuscript, that I'd need permission to use them. And when the time came, I emailed the "permissions" people at each artist's label, confident that they'd be excited for the extra exposure. Unfortunately, though, I misunderstood how the system works. So here, because I know that some of you are writers too, I'll pass along what I've learned:
Quoting songs costs money. Sometimes a lot of money. This isn't the artist's decision; it's governed by the licensing division of the record company. And while everyone I spoke to at the various labels was extremely nice and helpful, that didn't change the fact that the way things work in that industry doesn't lend itself to authors quoting lyrics freely as we write, thinking, "Won't so-and-so be happy to see her song raved about in my book!"
So the songs are gone from my manuscript, crossed out by my freshly-sharpened purple pencil. They're still getting heavy rotation on my playlist, though, which makes me think that perhaps I could put together an official iTunes soundtrack for the book?
If the last year of YOUR life had a soundtrack, what songs would be included?