“Well ya think you know it all
But ya don’t know a thing at all
Ain’t it something, y’all
When somebody tells you something ’bout you
Think that they know you more than you do…”
~Kelly Clarkson, “Mr. Know It All”
Anyone – actually, pretty much everyone – who knows me will tell you that I’m a loyal and devoted Kelly Clarkson fan. I own all her albums, have seen her in concert thirteen times, and cried both before and after (but not during!) my long-awaited meet and greet with her. So, with that in mind, it should be no surprise that today’s post comes courtesy of her fantastic new song, Mr. Know It All. It’s the lead single off her new album (Stronger, in stores October 25th … not that I’m counting down or anything), and she hosted a live chat yesterday for its world debut. It has, no exaggeration, been running through my head ever since. That made today’s edit session a bit interesting – “No, Shari, Sofie is not going to walk around humming the song!” – but that’s okay. It’s been nearly two and a half years since KC released her last album, so I’m happy for the catchy, resonant distraction. I also think y’all need to stop what you’re doing and listen. Go on, click the link above. You know you want to!
Now, to be fair, I love Kelly’s songs even when the lyrics aren’t something I can relate to directly, but this song … it resounds. It echoes. It strikes a chord. Kelly’s music is often about empowerment, and Mr. Know It All follows that pattern. How many of us have been in the situation she sings about, having someone in our life who thinks they know us better than we know ourselves? It can be someone close or a mere acquaintance … or, beyond that, it can be someone who truly doesn’t know us at all. Yet it’s hard sometimes to block out others’ perceptions. It’s hard not to allow our identities to be influenced by others. When those people lift us up, encourage and inspire us, that can be a wonderfully beautiful thing. But what about when those people bring us down, either purposefully or unwittingly? What about when they make us question our passions, our hearts, ourselves?
I think part of the reason this song resonates so strongly with me is because the issues it raises are very much in line with what Reflections of Me explores. It shows Sofie’s parallel journeys as a mother and daughter, yes, but it also tells the story of who she is as herself. Like all of us, her identity isn’t defined simply by one role. She is an amalgamation of her experiences, a living history of her moments and memories. And as she learns more about what identity is – and what we can make it be – she learns more about herself than she ever imagined. That continues in the sequel, in some similar ways and some different, and I’m already SO. UNBELIEVABLY. EXCITED. to see how it envelops Sofie in even more ways in the next book. Identity is such a fun topic to write about, because it’s like an umbrella canopy with so many directions sheltered underneath. In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, my first novel also takes the idea and bounces it around through the pages. Something tells me it’s a theme that will always work its way into whatever I write.
It’s a universal idea, something we can all relate to in some way. Maybe that’s another reason I find myself listening to Kelly’s new song on repeat. Because I’ve been there. For as many amazing, giving, truly genuine people who I’m so grateful to have supporting me as I continue down this path to (hopefully) publication, there will always be some who have different opinions. And that’s okay. The journey of a writer can be stressful, vulnerable, and highly emotional. Ask anyone who’s put themselves out there time and again, diving headfirst into the insanity that is querying, and they’ll back me up on this. It’s tough, really tough to keep at it, to keep plowing on and focusing on the peaks instead of the valleys. But those peaks make everything worth it, and I’m not just talking about agent requests. I’m talking about the pure excitement of starting a new manuscript, the overwhelming emotion that comes from writing the last word and seeing how much your characters have grown. I’m talking about the connection you feel to the story, the way it becomes an integral part of you and vice versa. I’m talking about all that and so much more.
None of us can know it all, not about others or even about ourselves. But if we listen to our hearts, if we hear what their beats tell us, then we’ll know enough. And ain’t that something, y’all.