Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Music At Work - Part One

Well, this weekend has seen me very frustrated over a bout of writer's block relating to the full eBook for Through Darkness and Stars. Yes, even though the writing of this was largely finished a while ago, the fact remains that portions of the story require a bit of a rewrite to get them just right. However, my brain does not seem to want to participate in the project.

Hell, I'm even having a hard time focusing on this blog post, it seems; that above paragraph took me an hour to write as I kept getting distracted. Beginning to wonder if I have adult-onset ADD.

Usually a little musical therapy is all I need to be able to get the writing flowing again; or yes, time away from the keyboard. But given that the only time I can really focus on my writing is evenings and weekends (as I have to keep a regular day jobt to pay the rent) and as my home/family life is just as important to me as the writing, any time specifically devoted to writing that does not see me writing productively is time lost, in my opinion.

But usually, when writing, music does help. In fact, music is often inspirational to writing, isn't it? So, what about my writing? Well, much of The Unearthing was written as I listened to Portishead's first two albums, Dummy and Portishead, usually on shuffle on my CD player.

But there were other songs I listened to obsessively as I worked on the first, second, third and multiple subsequent drafts of The Unearthing. Most importantly was Tori Amos' 1000 Oceans, which was essential to the rewriting of the interstitial between chapters Seven and Eight of the novel. When you read it (if you haven't already) you'll understand why. What's really interesting, is that segment only really worked after I started to listen to 1000 Oceans and rewrote it. Music is a powerful inspiration.

Through Darkness and Stars takes the Ship and its passengers out into deep space. As I wrote the story, I found myself wanting music more in keeping with the environment. Tangerine Dream artist Christopher Franke's work scoring Babylon 5 got some serious play in my headset. And as my regular readers might remember, J. Michael Straczynski's television opus was an inspiration to me, when in 1997 I sat down to work on The Omniverse's first volume.

Likewise, as I sought to build tension towards the end of the novel, I found myself playing John Murphy's In The House In a Heartbeat (from the fantastic and frightening 28 Days Later) over and over again. I remember something that Andy Warhol said once, which stayed with me: "I had this routine of painting with Rock and Roll, blasting the same song on a 45 RPM over and over all day long…"

Funny thing is, I've kept that same habit when writing. I'll listen to an album, or more often than not just one or two songs, over and over until I'm done with a chapter. Shame it's not working now!

For the upcoming Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind, which takes place in the early 1990s, I of course listened to a lot of Grunge and Classic Rock. As we get closer to the release of that one, I'll cough up the second part of My Music At Work.

Hopefully by the time I'm through with my music review for Thursday's update, I'll have actually finished the rewrite that's been kicking my ass all week.

See you real soon!