Generating creative magic

January 14, 2014

So, I’ve been working for a while at the Storywonk Making Magic class. It’s taken me a little while to get into the magic groove, actually, (odd since I’m such a fantasy fan,) but there’s some great stuff in the course. I totally recommend it, especially for the encouraging tips Lani has about different ways to go out and hunt your magic; activities to help you get in touch with your muse, and sort out the inspiration you need for this particular book.

The first big exercise was the soundtrack. I love using music to fuel my inspiration, and Lani had some good tips for how to pick a good soundtrack, and avoiding the dangers of using something with too many memories that don’t really fit the book. On the other hand, I found I had some problems with her approach of going out and finding brand new music, because it takes me too long to figure out how I feel about a new song. So for my ‘Alien Love on a Kitchen Scale’ soundtrack, I ended up going through the ‘mid-tier’ of my music collection, considering a bunch of songs that I kinda liked but hadn’t rated with high numbers of stars. A few B-list songs snuck in there, mostly because I couldn’t shake the fact that they’d shown me something important about my characters, and I had to work for a few days cutting the list down to a length that seemed reasonable. Here’s the final soundtrack, more or less in the order of priority I was using to axe the last few stragglers:

  • Love Is My Witness, by Amanda Marshall
  • Clueless, by Billy Gilman
  • If My Life Was a Movie, by Steve Fox
  • That Was Us, by Alexz Johnson
  • Clocks, by Coldplay
  • Not That Different, by Collin Raye
  • Variations 1-4, by Andrew Lloyd Webber
  • More Love, by the Dixie Chicks
  • Snow Globe, by Chely Wright
  • Benefit of Doubt, by Chris Cummings
  • I Just Came Back From a War, by Darryl Worley
  • Waiting For Angels, by the Ennis Sisters
  • Haunted (Acoustic version) by Taylor Swift
  • Life For Rent, by Dido
  • I Wonder, by Aaron Pritchett
  • St John’s Waltz, by Ron Hynes
  • Blown Away, by Carrie Underwood
  • Summertown Road, by Brad Johner
  • Must To Be Free, by The Watchmen
  • Reasons Why, by Nickel Creek

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

More about the Monastery playlist

January 29, 2013

I’ve mentioned the ‘Monastery playlist’ a few times on this blog before, but since Nanopals has a post up today talking about the writing process and mentioning music, I thought I’d go into a bit more detail about the music of the monastery, how I found it, and what part it plays in my writing.

First off, generally I love writing to music. Finding a great song to write to is a gift, but if I like a song, generally it’s seldom ‘bad’ music to write to, especially during Nano or when I’m otherwise pantsing my way recklessly through a first draft. Editing is a bit different, it needs a bit more concentration, and for a while that was something that wasn’t quite falling into place with my writing process; editing in silence was too quiet, (unless I was reading my own work aloud as part of the editing process,) but most music was too distracting.

When I was going through the Holly Lisle ‘How to Revise Your Novel’ course last March, I got to the Monastery exercise where you leave a lot of the everyday world behind, and your last draft of your novel and your notes, and just sort of meditate your way to the perfect revision outline for the book. 😉 It’s a really great process, and one of the things Holly prescribed to leave behind was listening to music… with lyrics. She also seemed to be biased against a variety of instrumental music, and suggested leaving Classical Gas on an endless loop if you wanted any music in the monastery, but I couldn’t face any one tune that much, so I started putting together a list of all the instrumental music that I love. That was the moment my Monastery playlist was born.

The playlist was a great comfort to be on that first trip through the Monastery, both while I was actually working on my outline and as I walked the streets of my neighborhood trying to figure out what I wanted my book to be. I brought it back when I started Block Revision on “Won’t Somebody Think of the Children”, and gradually I’ve started to rely on it more and more whenever I have revision or editing to do. This particular collection of music just seems to be a really good fit with that task.

Some of the highlights of the playlist:

  • Mozart Concertos with the English Chamber Orchestra
  • The Firefly soundtrack and Serenity score
  • The Simpsons movie soundtrack
  • Any piano solo by John Sheard
  • Natalie McMaster on the fiddle
  • Selections from the ‘Pickin’ on’ Bluegrass series
  • “The Most Relaxing Classical Music in the Universe.” (I think the Serenians of Zeta Cygnus deserved to make the cut, but anyway… 😀 )
  • Bach Cello Suites by Yo-Yo Ma
  • A few orchestral versions of Madonna and REM songs

And on and on – there’s quite a bit of Leahy, some Rankin family, and a bunch of random instrumental tracks that just happened to turn up on albums that were otherwise conventional pop vocals.

I’ve become such a fan of my Monastery playlist that I even have versions of it on a couple of different devices to make sure that I can get at it when I need to. It started out on the iPhone, and is still there. Was on the desktop tower for a while, to sync with the iPhone, but the tower is with us no more. Sometime in the fall, I started copying the monastery music to an SD card that I could play in my Palm TX PDA, and then in December I loaded it onto my 1 gigabyte Sandisk Sansa player. (Well, as much of it as could fit. The entire playlist is around 1.2 gigs now.) And I’ve got it on the red netbook now too, in iTunes so that I can sync changes to the iPhone still.

Do you have any particular music that you like for a project or a specific stage of your writing?


How to procrastinate on your Nano – the Lisa Simpson way!

November 24, 2011

So, I was really pleased to come back from San Fran and find a new writing and books-themed Simpsons episode on my DVR – ‘The Book Job.’ While Homer, Bart, and friends collaborate to churn out a soulless best-seller ripoff, Lisa vows that she’s going to write a personal book that readers will connect with. Most of what she does, though, is procrastinate. It’s a pretty good list of ways to not ever get a book written, in fact:

  • Swear to only write 2000 words, then stop ‘to pace yourself.’
  • Don’t write until you have music that inspires you playing.
  • Organize your CD collection.
  • Play online Boggle.
  • Take your laptop to a coffee shop.
  • Set up your Wi-Fi ‘in case you need to do research.’
  • Buy something out of a sense of obligation to the coffee shop.
  • Brag about how much you love being a writer.
  • Build a toy log house out of pencils.
  • Watch kitty videos on Youtube.
  • Build a model cathedral or castle out of pencils.
  • Stare out the window.
  • Rub your finger against the window.
  • Clean the window.
  • Clean the outside of the window with a makeshift platform lowered from the roof.
  • Watch the complete series of ‘Friday night lights’ on DVD.

Happy Thanksgiving to everybody in the USA!


%d bloggers like this: