Okay. Here we all are again. It’s been a pretty crazy month for me: moved to a new country, started a university entrance course the very next day, got accepted into a BSc program, meaning I didn’t actually have to do the entrance course at all (argh), learned the language, learned the currency, pulled up yards of carpet and got wicked blisters, got the internet hooked up (score!), found out my new room is immediately adjacent to the boxroom so everybody tramps through to get stuff… anyway. That’s not what this post is for. Its for this:
The prompt: “How does music relate to your writing?”
And the schedule: We seem to have a lot of double-ups this month. Rock on.
14th – http://kirabudge.weebly.com/
28th – https://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (John’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain.)
How does music relate to my writing? Depends what I’m writing. I keep playlists for specific characters, specific moods, and so on.
Thomas Bergersen, Carl Orff, Richard Wagner, and Two Steps from Hell are epic for fight scenes, chases, active adventury stuff like that. I usually go for movie scores, because they’re composed with a theme in mind already, so you can go through and select, say, Across the Stars from Star Wars if you’re working on a tragicky-love-story thing, Test Ride from HTTYD for a car-chase, basically any pretty-pretty Boredway musical for comedy (I don’t like many Broadway musicals, and don’t write much comedy – is it obvious?) Sometimes a tear-jerker song like Simon and Garfunkel’s The Boxer will get me from high screaming euphoria over something in my real life, back to the mindset I need to be in to write a sad scene. Sometimes an upbeat piece like Farquhar’s Ring Around the Moon Polka cheers me up just enough to write a resolution. It’s as much a mood-alterer as anything. Why do doctors prescribe meds for this?
My most common characters have their own playlists, for when I need to write first-person, which entails getting into character. I’ll use… music I think that character would like, songs I think could just as easily be about them, and in a few extreme cases, songs sung by the actor who played the character. Ahem. (I also keep a box of character-specific jewelry, which I only wear when I’m ‘being’ that character. Obi-Wan’s Siri ring from Valentine, Nasriel’s lucky charm, a leather bracelet for Kijé… you get me. If you see me drifting around wearing a single snake earring, stay well clear. ‘Cause that’s for my new character River, who is slightly scary.)
I use a playlist of secular classic rock – actually it’s almost all Billy Joel – for typing to, because it helps me keep to a relatively fast rhythm, but slow enough that I can still see what I’m doing and edit as I go. Mostly I handwrite everything, then do the second-draft edits as I type, so this bit’s important.
For writing philosophical stuff, I listen to Christian rock, so I don’t forget where my worldview thou-shalt-not-cross lines are. Otherwise Force only knows what I might say. Steve Camp, Keith Green, Randy Stonehill, Terry Talbot… yeah, my taste in music is fairly dire by modern standards.
More often than you’d think, I’ll be listening to the story in the lyrics of a song, and find myself wondering what the background to the story is, or what happened next. For instance: does the narrator ever get together with his Uptown Girl? does the guy who says he’ll be a Bridge Over Troubled Waters keep his word? And that starts off a story. When that happens, I try to tip my hat to the song in question, usually by quoting lyrics or mentioning the song in the text. Keep your eyes peeled for a Travelin’ Prayer.
This is all absolutely best-case scenario, though. In the last month I’ve found myself writing in three airports, on two planes, in a taxi, in a noisy motel with the siblings running in and out, in a friend’s guest bathroom, in the bath (twice), and using all sorts of kinds of paper and pens and desks. On the back of a packing inventory in permanent marker. On the back of some Russian homework in building pencil.
Basically, I do really like music when I’m writing, only it’s not necessary. I’ve had to learn to be pretty flexible about what I do and don’t have, including peace and quiet, coffee, and a pen that actually works. I mean, for me, the traditional picture of a struggling writer starving in a garret would be practically a holiday. Hopefully things settle down again soon.
I’ve just realized I’ve spent very little of this post talking about music. Ah well. As the muse takes me, I guess. (She’s been on vacation lately.)
Thanks for reading. MTFBWY.