Or something. Way back in the day – like when I used to trudge barefoot and bareheaded through chest-deep snow for fifty miles just to go to school – I used to pop CDs into my old school portable CD player, set it on repeat, and tap away at the keyboard. Sure enough, different novels were pretty much “fueled” by different music. In the beginning, it was really about CDs providing me with background music that my concentration fed off, and in some way or another, the music also dictated the tone of the novel. So I ended up calling them soundtracks, and, whether or not it’s a quirk of mine, I never listen to the same compositions for future stories.
I’ve also talked about how a song provided me with the kernel of a story idea. I’ve waxed poetic about this time and again, using The Glass Minstrel as sort of like the “ultimate” product of being inspired by a specific version of a specific song – this one:
Odd how the mind works, but that’s how things go with me. The novel that was really steeped in music from different sources was Renfred’s Masquerade, and it was not only because there were several ballroom scenes in it, but I needed music to keep me fixed on the setting of the story, which is surreal and dream-like with the isolated island, empty mansions, and clockwork mannequins. I listened to different waltzes and arias the whole time I wrote the novel, but I also wore out the “replay” button on the one song that, like “In Dulci Jubilo” for The Glass Minstrel, pretty much dictated the novel’s plot for me:
That was the piece that Nicola heard when he had a psychic glimpse into the future of Gustav and Constanza, and it was also referenced in the final scenes.
The last novel I wrote that depended on music for inspiration fuel was Mimi Attacks! and that novel just zipped by for a host of different reasons, genre-switching being my main drive. But the song that also kept me going was something I heard on Pandora at work one day, and I had to hunt it down and, again, abuse the “replay” button in order to feed my head while I worked on the book. The song, though, isn’t about Eric; it’s from Mimi’s point-of-view.
For the next two novels I recently finished, I didn’t listen to anything, and whether or not that factored into the way I nearly dragged myself through the process is debatable. However, I can easily say that I found it difficult writing without the help of music to provide inspiration for visuals as well as emotion – and especially the story’s plot. Oh, I somehow managed to complete a couple of coherent novels, and I even had tons of fun writing Rose and Spindle, but the fluidity of the writing process wasn’t there. Neither were the post-writing moments spent visualizing future scenes in my head while listening again and again to certain compositions and then scribbling those down in my writing journal.
Working on “Benedict” has been a real pain in the ass, and I’ve chucked every attempt I’ve made so far. Please note that this is supposed to be a novelette, not a novel, and I’m already struggling with it.
While lazing about last night, I decided to listen to certain songs and realized that that was what I desperately needed in order to move forward with the story. I latched on to a song that I’d uploaded a couple or so years ago, and I’ve marked it as a potential muse feeder. I ended up forgetting about it, though, being caught up with other things, and I rediscovered it last night, using it to visualize “Benedict” and how I want the plot to be shaped.
And it worked. I discarded everything I’ve written for it so far – both in .doc format or in longhand. I’m starting over, and I’ll have to abuse the “replay” button again and again in order to feed my head. I’m very much looking forward to writing this story now.