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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Music to Feed Your (Writing) Soul

I was raised in a noisy house. Music playing on the radio, baseball games on the tv, kids fighting and making up. We were a military family, so we didn’t have family close by, but we did have tons of friends. Mom and Dad always kept, and still do, an open door policy. If you’re in the area and you want to stop by, go for it.

Later, as a mom with two young daughters who wanted to “play” with mommy even while she studied for college exams, I learned how to concentrate in the midst of little girls playing Barbies while I lay on the floor next to them, Barbie clothes and cars spread out amongst English lit and Education books.

Today, my house is run the same way as my parents’. If the Cubs are on WGN, the television is tuned into the game. Don’t bother asking if you can change the channel. If the TV is off, then music is probably playing, from either one of the girls’ rooms, or from satellite radio. All kinds of music, though I can only take rap in small doses. Usually it’s pop, country, oldies or latino tunes.
I say all this to help you understand why music and sound are a part of my life. Even when I’m writing. Music makes me feel good. Or rather, it makes me FEEL.

Now, when I’m writing, my mind has to be engaged with my characters, not singing about how Kenny Chesney’s tractor makes some girl think he’s sexy. Heck, that man’s sexy in a dump truck. But I digress…

I used just listen to movie sound tracks. My copies of Dying Young and A Walk in the Clouds are well used. But lately, I’m a big fan of Josh Groban, Michael Bublé, Il Divo and, especially since I’m writing books with latino characters, Luis Miguel (can you say: hunky, romantic, take-me-I’m-yours lyrics and voice?) and Christian Castro. The words in the songs by these artists add to my writing experience. I've even pictured my characters listening to the same song, feeling the same hitch in the chest, or swell of love, whatever it is I'm experiencing.

When the strains of music fill my room, or my ears if I’m listening through headphone/earbuds, it seems to fill my soul, pulling me closer, more in-tuned with my emotions, and that’s a good thing. Because let’s face it, emotion is what makes our books come alive. We want our readers to feel what our characters are feeling. To “be” there with our hero and heroine, through the good and bad.

Yes, it has been said that silence is golden. As a parent of three, though, I can also say that silence, when a toddler isn’t within plain view, can also mean trouble.

But seriously, for me, while there is a time for silence, there is more often than not, a time to turn up the tunes, let your thoughts wander and your imagination take hold. Feel your characters come alive while your senses perk up in reaction to the beat, or the haunting melody. Let the emotion your music evokes envelope you, enticing your muse to join in the fun.

I’ve shared some of my favorite mood-inducing/writing-inducing artists, what about you? What’s on your playlist?


At 1:03 PM, Blogger Laurel Hawkes said...

I love music. My favorite is LOTR. Howard Shore is brilliant. Josh Groban is also fabulous. Pandora radio, which is free online, let's you develop "stations" around particular artists or songs. I've six stations that vary from Jim Brickman to Styx, and Donny Osmond to Celtic Woman. Julio Inglesia was my first venture into music in another language, not being opera. I've always used music to set my own mood, but I never thought to use it to set a character's mood, though I did use it to help set a time period in a story. It seems I needed the reminder to use music more.

At 1:59 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

I don't listen to music while I write, but while writing certain books, I'll listen to a particular artist or soundtrack. While writing one historical romance, I liked the Les Miserables soundtrack.

I'm curious, since we're discussing songs what song did you dance to at your wedding? My husband and I danced to Georgia on My Mind--the Ray Charles version. When I hear that song, I get warm fuzzies.

At 3:25 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

We didn't dance at our wedding, Mo, but "our" song when we were first married was Our House by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
"With two cats in the yard
Life used to be so hard
Now everything is easy
'Cause of you"....

I now have all my CDs on ITunes and I love to let it play randomly. My Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century classical and folk music mixed with Phantom of the Opera and Il Divo and Ella Fitzgerald.

Sometimes I forget to put it on while writing, though.

At 6:46 PM, Blogger Merrillee said...

Music is definitely a mood setter. When I first started to write, I always had music playing. But now that I'm writing to a deadline, I find music can be distracting. I like to let music set the mood while I'm on my walks. I often have characters talking in my head while I walk, and often those conversations are set to whatever music happens to be on my shuffle.

I find that music and lyrics can be an inspiration for stories. The first book I sold was inspired by a Dwight Yoakam song, "Ain't That Lonely Yet." The song describes a guy who has been dumped by this woman, and now she's back calling him on the phone and sending him notes. He says, "I ain't that lonely yet." I had listened to that song a lot of times on my walks and decided it would make a good story. So I wrote it. I think, as Pris said, the emotions from that song came across in the story.

At 10:18 PM, Blogger Prisakiss said...

Mo, our wedding song was "Just You and I" by Crystal Gale and Eddie Rabbit. And yes, it brings back wonderful memories, and feelings of anticipation for what lie ahead.

Diane, I have my songs on Itunes, too. Though I have to say it's only because my girls have put them on the computer. I'm still a bit of an i-tunes newbie.

Judy, if you enjoy Julio Iglesias, you should like Luis Miguel, too. He sings a lot of old standards, love songs from years gone by. Wonderfully romantic melodies with beautiful words. Let me know what you think.

At 5:37 PM, Blogger Laurel Hawkes said...

Prisakiss, do have a particular CD that's a favorite? I checked Amazon and noticed a whole batch and couldn't decide where to start. :-)


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