Sunday, April 30, 2006

Writing to Music

This weekend was Southern Magic’s second writers retreat. We gathered in the gorgeous Lazy Bear Lodge in the Smoky Mountains, the turkey buzzards circling the log cabin clinging to the mountainside. We relaxed in the hot tub overlooking the folded mountains, luxuriously green rippling away into the distance.

It was a great chance for a group of writers to gather and share. We plotted several story lines and critiqued a few others. We had discussions about everything from family issues, political viewpoints and our favorite movies/heroes/heroines, but mostly on the ins and outs of the writing life: contests, publishing, marketing, etc.

Saturday evening we shared something very personal: the music that we enjoy playing while we write. The selections varied, as you might guess! A few were calm and peaceful, such as Enya’s “Watermark,” evoking ideas of sensual exploration and fulfillment of pent up passion. One – 10CC’s “I’m Not In Love” – made each of us recall memories of past loves and losses. The rowdiest song was by Nickel Back, though I cannot recall the title (must have been the beer…) and was hard hitting and about driving fast, loving hard, and loving all of it!

Though not really surprising, the spectrum of music that we write to also reflected our individual personalities. My song was by Enya, and I use it more as white noise to filter out other background noises, and to bring about the freethinking peace that seems part and parcel of the sound. I have listened to the CD on repeat for years, never tiring of its clear, calm path it gives me for writing. I don’t often vary the music I choose to listen to, though I sometimes leave the radio on a pop or country station (turned way down low). Either way, it creates a background and thus is not something I’m actually listening to.

I heard some other writers say they pick a piece of music that speaks to them about the story they are currently writing. The hard driving rock and roll was selected not only because it reflected the life of the author who chose it, but because it fit the vampire stories she was writing, with lots of sex and erotica. Another author said she chose her piece by Rachmaninoff because the flow of the music paralleled the flow of the story she was working on, a slow building of passion with the resolution and ensuring cuddling and dozing that followed the lovemaking.

Do you have a band, musical selection, or other musical choice that you use to help you write? How do you choose what you listen to?


Deborah Matthews said...

The only time I've listened to music when I write is when I was writing my Christmas story (A GIFT OF LOVE). In July I needed a little Christmas motivation. The rest of the time I like it quiet or as quiet as it can be with a hubby and a cat in the house.

Carla Swafford said...

The Nickelback song was "Animals." What can I say, I do enjoy rock and roll. ::grin::

Like Debbie, I prefer quiet (really) but when your computer is in the middle of the living room with the TV blasting a COLD CASE marathon and it's on the tenth murdered wife, you try to drown it out and write. Oh, that reminds me, if I ever come up missing or dead -- have the police check out my husband. He's an expert on such things now.

But I do enjoy all kinds of music and play different types of music for difference scenes and/or books I'm writing.

Paula said...

ROFL on the COLD CASE marathon, Carla. My brother calls all those shows on Court TV and A & E "How Not to Kill Your Wife" shows.

I don't always write to music, and when I do, it's generally something instrumental. However, I do listen to music and even make myself a playlist or soundtrack when I'm plotting a book. I find music that fits the situation and the characters and that helps me get into their world a little better.

Kathy said...

I write historicals, so I listen to music to help capture the mood or watch movies from the era I'm writing in to get me in the right frame of mind.

Music stirs up emotion and imagination. I agree, quiet rejuvenates the soul and at times that is what's needed, but the right kind of music has power, a kind of power that transcends time, inspires memory, invention, and passion.


Karen said...

I miss the mountains! Hope you all found some inspiration - and a lot of laughs - in such a gorgous setting.

I tend to be an Enya / Enigma / opera listener while I write. Lyrics usually confuse me... I'm much more likely to repeat words or phrases unconciously if I've written with lyrics.

But Nickelback is on my ipod for when I'm not writing!

Victoria said...

Hmm my first blog I listen to music when I am writing it depends on the mood of my writing if I am writing that part about them discovering each other and falling in love I tend to listen to sappy love songs. If it is about something exciting something upbeat in pop or R&B. and if it the part where they split up or it involves a lot of emotions I listen to those emotionally draining songs. All of my rough rough drafts have names related to songs.

JoAnn said...

Like several of you, I am easily distracted by music when I write. But just recently, while listening to Bannockburn by Skyedance, I found myself imagining a final, heartwrenching scene between a hero and heroine I didn't even know! I listened to it over and over, and with each repitition, I discovered a little more about the characters. I've put it down on paper, and maybe someday I'll write their story -- from back to front!