30 Days of Writing–Day 7: Musical influences

iTunes Icon

Image via Wikipedia

Day 7 and no rest for this chica.  Today’s topic is music, specifically:

7. Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? Are there any songs you like to relate/apply to your characters?

I wish I could listen to music while I write, but the two activities don’t play well together in the sandbox.  Music tends to be the bigger bully and tries to monopolize my attention.  If my writing is somehow able to fell Goliath, it’s usually because the tunes have drifted into B-sides or less favored ones.  When that happens, I don’t hear them anymore so what’s the point of hitting play in the first place other than to stall the writing process?

If I do succumb to the allure of music while writing, I have a fairly eclectic mix of songs I’ve loaded up on an embedded playlist.  Or I’ll launch iTunes and play my library.  You’ll typically see new age, folk, pop, soundtracks, stuff I get for free from Starbucks and loved, stuff I heard on  SYTYCD and loved.  But I throw in the occasional rap, zydeco, reggae, jazz, Broadway, classical, country/western, grunge, metal, techno, and moldy oldies.

Songs that relate or apply to characters abound.  That’s what my commute to and from work is about.    That’s when I give full rein to music to inspire scenes, dialogue, emotional tone.  My kids tease me about playing the same songs in my car ALL.THE.TIME, but there’s a reason for it.  Music that I’ve linked to a current WIP becomes a trigger for creative thinking.  I swear many of my stories have elements that started off as music videos in my head.

Sometimes the unscratched itch of a musical association won’t let go until it’s released to a different medium.  It can be a relentless muse (which I cringe to write because I’m not a fan of discussing “muse” personifications and behaviors, find it a bit pretentious.)  This year I’m finally giving in to one based on the Sinead O’Connor song from the film, In The Name of The Father.  For 17 years I’ve been listening to The Thief of Your Heart (off and on–I’m not Rainman, afterall) and imagining the story I have finally outlined and will make my 2010 NaNo project.  We’ll see if, like a fine wine, age has improved the vision and power of the story, or if it’s more like that layer of sticky sludge at the bottom of a garbage can that only a solid power washing will take care of.

Another medium that can fuse music and writing is the book trailer.  I know some people hate them, think a poorly done one can harm a book rather than help it.  So be it.  Me, it’s less about marketing (cause I ain’t sold anything yet) and more about expression of the story.  I made one for my WIP, The PURE, and am itching to make another for My Fair Vampire but not until I’ve finished editing, writing the query and synopsis for it.  Call it incentive to complete the less sexy parts of writing a novel.

Whether a mood-setter, an influencer or a means of alternate expression, music can be a powerful tool for a writer.  I can’t imagine writing without its existence and if I were to suddenly go deaf (God forbid), I think my writing might wither and die from lack of nourishment.  We can’t have that now can we?