Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Setting the Scene

Well hello there!  Ok, I'm gonna say it. Could it be hotter out? Seriously? We've had temperatures between 35-40C (100F something) for about three weeks now and absolutely no rain. Which means everyone's front lawn is crunchy sharp prickly not good for barefeet lawn. Except for the die-hards that water all the time and risk the fine. We're doing ok though because we installed soaker hoses in the spring so I water twice a day and my produce looks good.
I am kinda dying to write a certain post about something that I'm going through right now, but I think it might be premature.  Like every devotional/bible verse/children's devotions I am reading for the past two weeks has been on one certain subject so obviously God is trying to tell me something but I am terribly thick-headed and need a harder kick to figure it out, so maybe I'll write about it in August.
After reading Alice's post I knew what I had to write about. Wait, I'd better make sure I haven't written about it yet...dang, I have no idea because I don't tag my posts. Oops. Ah well.
Ok. So.
Alice's post made me think of what... inspires me to write. I think I mentionned delicious phrases before... where you think/read/see a line and you go from there. But I wanna talk about music.

Something that seems to be slowly gaining popularity, is author music compilations. Which is what the author listened to, while writing the book. Cool huh? I love looking up their music and then trying to relate to what they wrote about. Sometimes I jump up and down and yell, 'yah!'. And sometimes I'm like, 'seriously?'. Maybe I love this so much because whenever I hear a song, and fall in love with it, I imagine my own video for it. Best example I can think of is that old famous song, 'Drops of Jupiter' by Train. I looove that song. Probably because he mentions soy lattes. Anyway, you know the song, it was played all the time. So in my head, I imagined a bright sunny day, a faded red pick-up cruising down the deserted highway. Boy singing in the driver's seat, arm out the window. The bed of the truck has a huge duffel bag.  Passenger seat is a girl, long brown hair, asleep - she is exhausted. She's leaning against the headrest. A border collie has his head on her lap, her hand is on his head. Basically the girl has left her life behind to travel and realizes her life is back where she left it. Boyfriend/husband had picked her up from bus station. Sun reflecting on everything. Fun, right?

I looooooove music. I have it on all the time. Except now. Go figure. Probably because I'm about to start writing.  I will literally find music and make compilations to go with what I want to write about. Because I love music that moves me. The lyrics need to be clever or powerful. If you used 'love and dove', I will turn you off. And repeated lyrics. That and anything with grunting, the word 'baby', 'boo', 'lover' and anything to do with innappropriateness. (Sometimes I really miss old school rap... even Vanilla Ice was clever with his words, forgetting his inability to not produce original music. Which then begs the questions that everyone copies everyone else, but we won't get into that right now. Huge fan of Alan Cross and the History of Music)

The music needs softness or a raging crescendo. The singer better be good and they'd better mean what they're singing. I am sorry to say that I don't care for quite a bit of music because I find the singer is... well, whining. Do you know what I mean? And I'm sorry to say, it's usually male singers. High whiny voices that ... well, whine. Am I crazy? Probably. I also can't stomach loud, bleating voices that sound like sheep. Will not mention names.... I am terribly fickle.

So. I have about 10,000 songs on my iTunes thanks to friends and our library and me being careful with what I buy. I listened to acid jazz when I wrote my first book, "Jackson Jones: the Tale of a Boy, an Elf and a Very Stinky Fish." (shameless self-promotion!) and the second book had to be written to the soundtrack of Charlie Brown Christmas. I cannot tell you why. It just did. Even though it was summer.
But now I'm doing a big book. A nooooovel. Over 35,000 words. And it has 'moments'.  Sad moments, happy ones, love moments, angry moments.
So what did I do? I made a huuuuuge compilation of all music that I thought I could use. For example:
Heroine is feeling very vulnerable.
Heroine is hurting.
Heroine is falling in love.
Heroine spurned by love.
Heroine is learning to fight.
Heroine is manipulated.

(Sorry about all the links. You're probably frustrated by now. If I knew how to upload that song thingy where it would just play, I would.)

So I would chunk the different moods together and then hit repeat.

Before I write, I close my eyes, listen to one of the songs a few times, get myself into the heroine's shoes/emotion/state and then write. Time consuming, I know, but it is effective. It also works well if you just carry around your itunes and play where you are: cooking, cleaning, driving, at the gym.

So. Yeah. There ya go. Crazy inspiration to think about. What do you listen to???? Am very very curious....

Warning: finishing your writing with a vulnerable, or sad, or someone just died, or boyfriend just cheated on you? WILL put you in a bad mood. Take a few minutes to listen to happy, upbeat, I'm in love - music before speaking to husband and family.

Jenn Kelly is an author. This is her dog. Yes, that is the front door and yes, that is her ball. I think she wants something.
She is currently researching her 1963 Roget's Thesauraus because it has the best words. Such as jurisprudence, gerrymander, disencumber and iteration.


  1. Glad my post gave you something to think about, Jenn. As to music -- I have it on all the time -- I seem to need white noise to keep myself focussed on the work. I can't write to music with lyrics, they distract me and make me think about the singer's story rather than my own. Mostly I listen to the classics, Bach, Mozart, Haydn. . . I hear their genius and feel humble ... keeps the writing world in perspective. Good luck with the new project whose name must not be spoken just yet. :-)

  2. No music here for writing. At. All. I admire those of you who can think with something else going on, but I'll take silence, thanks!

  3. I'm with Valerie. I never write to music because I only listen to songs with lyrics. That way I can sing along and I do. But since I can't sing and write too, so no music. However the song that was a key in Streets on a Map was the old standard Someone to watch over me, which I have numerous recordings of, but it never played while writing. Just a lot of the time when not writing.

  4. Loved reading about the inspiration you get from music, Jenn. At the moment, if I want to hear music as I write, I need to have it on in our lounge and allow it to filter into my study - but with doors closed in winter here in Australia that makes things a bit difficult! Time for an ipod or the like, I'd say!

  5. Isn't that funny? I love listening to the lyrics because then they become delicious phrases.... and Jo-Anne, you totally need an ipod!!! It's also pretty amazing sitting outside and gardening while listening to worship music.... wow. Hits my heart every single time...although I find gardening peaceful....

  6. A great post, Jenn. You have my utmost admiration because there is no way I can write fiction with music on. I absolutely love music - particularly with the lyrics - but I end up listening too hard and lose the scene in my head with my characters. My husband, Ray, is the opposite. Can you imagine us sharing an office space to write? Over so many years he has been very gracious and refrained from the music unless I am not at the computer!

  7. Jenn, loved you post! (In fact, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying all the ICFW posts! Thanks bloggers!!) As a musician, I find inspiration for my writing often strikes as I’m listening to a particular track – whether that be classical, jazz, contemporary etc. I don’t write to music as often these days, but some lyrics/music just work. For years I’ve had ‘theme songs’ for a particular character and tracks as background music when working on particular scenes. Perhaps I just like the full cinematic experience! It would be interesting to know if readers find such music selections enhance (or otherwise!) their reading experience.