Friday, April 18, 2014

The sound of writing

A friend and fellow writer recently asked me, "so what do you do to keep the inspiration going while you write?"  I sort of just looked at him for a moment, mostly because I'm easily confused, and asked for a bit of clarification.  He explained that after getting jazzed up over an idea, the feeling or emotion tended to fade fifteen to twenty minutes into his writing.  He was having a hard time hanging on to whatever feeling or emotion he was trying to convey for a particular scene or dialogue exchange.  Once the meat of the question sunk in, I simply replied, "music."

Every writer/author is going to have that "one thing" (name that Billie Crystal movie if you can) that helps carry them through from one scene or chapter to the next.  For me, it's music.  Generally my preference is for instrumental scores.  I'm not quite down with the classics, although I enjoy them.  In my younger writing years, I listened mostly to movie scores while writing.  Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman readily come to mind and were great influences for for a lot of the action sequences I that I wrote.  Of course, as I've gotten older my tastes have changed.  Don't get me wrong, depending on the piece, I still like Zimmer's work; however, Bear McCreary has quickly become one of my favorite composers.  Still, I've branched and tried new types of music.  It's likely a sign that I'm steadily inching my way to old fart status.  

Much of what I'm listening to these days comes from some of the companies responsible for churning out a lot of the Tv and movie trailers.  Yes, I know what you're thinking: Garcia listens to advertising music.  That's a fair summary, but hear me out.  Those pieces are often short, yet very powerful.  They have to be.  If not, the listener gets bored and changes the channel.  The world we live in has changed: people just don't have an abundance of time, so no one wants to feel like they are wasting what little free time they have.  So that short, emotionally charged one or two minute piece of music sometimes captures or stirs the kind of sentiment I'm looking to get out of a scene.  The "groups" I've been listening to lately are: Immediate Music, Two Steps from Hell, and Audiomachine.    

Sometimes I'll loop the same piece, over and over again.  Other times, if I've downloaded (read paid for it via iTunes), I'll string together a playlist for a specific feeling that I'm looking to capture.  Let's face it, if you're not feeling sad or depressed, it's not easy to pull together a scene that's supposed to convey those kinds of feelings.  Now, try it when you're listening to a piece of music that emphasizes the weeping cry of a violin against the backdrop of other muted instruments.  Suddenly, the world changes because your emotion changes.  Your eyes well up.  A lump forms in your throat.  Now you can really see the little six year-old girl as she falls helplessly to her knees, crying over her beloved little puppy that was just hit by her neighbor's car.  

Yes, I know that's a cheap shot - but didn't you hear the violin playing while the imagery of the little girl was playing out in your mind's eye.  That's the point I'm trying to make.  If writing is all about painting a scene in the reader's mind, music is all about "feeling."  I've found that it's a far easier thing to describe what I'm feeling than it is to imagine what someone else would be feeling and trying to described what those imaginary feelings would be like.  

So I hope that my friend has found the musical style that's got his pen/keyboard moving and capturing what he's chasing after.  

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