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[personal profile] tmcg
Having cars beep their horns in order to say "Yes, ma'am, signal acknowledged, ma'am, I'm all locked up, ma'am" when you use the remote to lock them is like having a doorbell that's loud enough to startle the neighbors and passersby and that instead of politely chiming cries "Look out!" and "Don't hit me!" and "Help!"

Using a potato peeler to laboriously strip the top layer from a stalk of celery you've already rinsed as thoroughly as possible feels a lot like washing the soap. Then again, sometimes the soap does need washing.

I can no longer listen to music while I write because I sense a melodic, rhythmic shape to sentences before I have the words to fill the shape; I need to listen, I need to be able to hear what I haven't said yet.

(I used to like to have music playing while I was writing, and on a panel at the last Albacon--when the question "What music helps you write?" came up, as it frequently does--I said I couldn't have music on at all anymore, and Barbara Chepaitis was curious why, and I told her I didn't know, although I had a vague unarticulated notion that it might have something to do with aging, that when I was younger I was better at handling multiple sensory input and multitasking. Maybe that is part of it, and maybe it's all just different ways of saying "I need to be able to hear myself think." But yesterday I found myself listening for, reaching for, that word melody that didn't have words yet, and I thought, Huh. Wow. This is why. And it is.)


Date: 2007-05-03 10:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] melissajm.livejournal.com
Funny-I write shorts better in silence, but with novels a "soundtrack" can tie things together and make the project more manageable.

Date: 2007-05-06 09:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] terrymcgarry.livejournal.com
I've always liked the idea of a novel soundtrack, but I never managed to put one together, and now I think it would end up interfering, sad as that makes me. A friend used to make mix tapes for every story he wrote, and some of them were really cool, and even cooler after I'd read the stories they related to. Your novel soundtracks sound wonderful, from what you've said over in the Proxy Circle in the past. How fascinating that for you music helps with novels but silence is better for short stories!

Date: 2007-05-06 11:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] melissajm.livejournal.com
I think it's because I can write most of the first draft in one shot, and I don't want to be interrupted, but for a long-term project like a novel, music helps tie it together.

Date: 2007-05-16 07:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] terrymcgarry.livejournal.com
That makes so much sense. I can easily imagine music being the touchstone for recapturing the mood of the big project when you dive back into it. Neat.

Date: 2007-05-16 09:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] melissajm.livejournal.com
I think you're right; mood's the key. Sometimes I'll make a "mood playlist" if I'm stuck on a scene.

Date: 2007-05-09 02:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kurtisroth.livejournal.com
For me it differs from project to project. Lately I like to have something to inspire a mood. But there are times -- when I'm more clear on whatever it is I'm setting out to do, or more intent on creating that mood from the ground up -- when silence or white noise is better.

I totally get the word melody thing. I imagine that's part of what I'm reaching for in "I need a mood" mode. Never thought of it that way before.

Date: 2007-05-16 07:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] terrymcgarry.livejournal.com
It's neat that music can help shape that word melody. I know what you mean about inspiring a mood, too; instrumental music used to do that for me, as long as it wasn't something I was tempted to play along with (so, no Irish music or I'd be grabbing for the pennywhistle going "Oh yeah, I always meant to learn this tune!"), and movie soundtracks. Adrian Legg and Leo Kottke were especially good writing music, and I kind of miss that!

I think part of it for me too is that lately I've been more in active-listening mode. I can write with the TV on and filter out the distraction completely, but if the stereo's playing music that I like, I want to sit and listen to it and think about it--give it my full attention. So, I can screen and I can focus, but I can't split my focus. Hmm.

Date: 2007-07-04 11:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] norilana.livejournal.com
Wow, that's exactly the same reason I cannot really write well with music on, I ahve to hearthe cadence of the sentences else they don't "work" in my mind.

Btw, happy Independence Day! :-)

Date: 2007-07-06 05:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] terrymcgarry.livejournal.com
Thank you! And to you too!

I'm glad that you have the same experience of writing and music! So many people seem to rely on having music on when they write, and need it to be particular kinds of music. I'm fairly used to being a weird exception, but it's nice to find out that I'm not alone in this. :)

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