Music and the Page: Writing Soundtracks

As readers, we are often stunned by the prose of the page, but how many of us think about the author toiling away to get their words in front of us?

Writers do.

I sometimes sit in front of a poem, or sentence dazzled.  I think, “How could a writer do this?”  I then begin to imagine him or her in the process of composing the work of art.  Ultimately, this means that I am imagining myself writing it as well.  How could I write something this good?

When in my cups (the self-pity cups) I imagine that the writer I so admire is always brilliant and has completed the entire novel on the first draft.  We all know this isn’t true, if for no other reason than editors love to edit.

Imagining other writers, helps me to consider my own writing practice.  A large part of that practice for me lately, has been listening to music.

I know that many writers compose a book or piece of work with a set of songs to help them “get into the mood.”  For myself, I find words with music distract me.  I have a hard time considering the next line of a poem is “Baby Baby Baby noooo”drifts through my stereo speakers.  Sometimes the words even leak out onto the page.  The horror of find upon rereading my new draft, “The gate slapped shut, an ultimatum / a gunshot.  The car that gunned out of the driveway / the radio in the room playing on / as if nothing was going on at all/ and I was like baby baby baby ooooh.

For this very reason, I tend to listen to the classical NPR station while writing or reading.  Sometimes if I leave the radio on another channel, I will find myself composing and then yelling at the radio: SHUT UP!  When trying to summon up feelings from the past, I might play a song I associate with that period in my life or even a whole album.  I wrote an entire essay about teenage angst and The Cure’s album Disintegration

My question for you this week is what kind of background noise fills your writing?  Is it the chatter of people in a busy cafe?  Is it the sound of your children fighting or playing Wii?  Do you impose absolute silence while you compose?

What is the soundtrack of your own writing life?

Posted in composing, music, noise, rocking out, soundtracks, writing, writing practice, your tunes.

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