Tag Archives: music

Writing Wednesday – Music

Some writers require silence, I require noise. Some noise is better than other noise. Occasionally, I can even write when people are talking to me but, apparently, that’s rude. So, sorry if I’ve done that to you. Which goes out to pretty much everyone I’ve ever met in real life… It is an essential skill to have, though, when you have two kids who never ever stop talking.

For me, music sets the tone for my writing. Like some other writers I know, I have playlists designed for specific projects, playlists for certain types of scenes or genres, playlists for moods, and playlists for certain characters. Sometimes, music influences my typing speed too – at least when everything else is working right.

Many years ago, when I was in middle school, near the time I started my first book, we had a music class where the director had us listen to a piece of music and then write what we saw. It was a fabulous exercise both from the musician’s standpoint and the writer’s. Experiencing music can be an incredible thing – whether you can see whole scenes before you or just get swept up in the emotions of it. It’s where I learned that I’m a very visual listener. Music helps me see the stories I’m creating and generally keeps any writer’s block from settling in for too long.

I’m always on the lookout for new music to inspire me. I listen to a little bit of everything. Except for 99% of country and about 50% of rap music – not big on violent rap, love message and skill work – anyone who can do that, talk that way, rhyme that way, is flat amazing to me. I love opera, classical, electronic, dance, some pop, some hip hop, jazz, rock, metal, alternative, grunge, ska, heavy metal, thrash metal, death metal, folk metal (omg, love folk metal). You never know what’s going to spark something.

So, have a little something my son found and see if it doesn’t spark a story or a character. These guys are great fun and it’s all quite catchy and familiar.


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Projects, Playlists, & Purple Hair

I’ve got a new project I’m working on – the working title is Gods of the Fallen. I’ve put about 2650 words into it this weekend but there’s a lot of worldbuilding going on in my head. I’ve got some pages full of notes on the history of the planet, the science of the planet. I like thinking about how people would deal with specific things that we could find if we did colonize other worlds. How would we deal with a planet where you either never got to see the sun or never got to see the dark – both of which we humans seem to need. I’m having some fun with the mythologies but that’s always my favorite part of world building. I make the rest up as I go. I’ll note geography and characters and all of my little checkov’s guns along the way so I can keep true and make sure all those guns go off by the end.

I do have a fun playlist for this one. It’s in two parts because I’m still building up my Pandora station for it and some of the things are so not related that I don’t think Pandora would put them together. I’ve been having fun exploring the music of it though. And I have a whole bunch of new to me rocking women to listen to and you can’t beat that.

Today was more productive than just my writing. My oldest son and I planted most of the garden, I snuggled with my poor little Alfred who has a hurt toe and is absolutely milking it. Then I went to the store and caught up with an old friend and got caught in a super downpour where I discovered that there is a slight downside to my purple hair. Playing in the rain stains my shirt a little. At least it wasn’t a good shirt.

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Music and Writing

I have been listening to the same handful of songs for about a week. I know there is something in my brain that this particular list speaks to. It’s right there, just beyond my fingertips but it’s coming. The more I listen to the songs, the closer it comes. I don’t know yet exactly what it is but it feels pretty desolate and angry which feels about right for right now. I really don’t think it’s a short story. I think this is a new book brewing and I don’t think it’s related to any of the ones I’ve written before. I see big, sweeping battles amidst a barren landscape full of fire and smoke and I’m pretty sure that’s not Earth’s surface they’re fighting on.

This playlist consists of mostly Black Veil Brides with a little Godsmack, Metallica, and Sisters of Mercy thrown in for good measure. I’m looking for more in that vein right now. I’m open to suggestions if you have them, especially a female lead with a sound/feel somewhere between Otep (a little too aggressive for this project) and Myrkur (a little too ethereal for this project).

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Best Misheard Lyrics

At the bus stop this morning, one of my mom friends and I were talking and I’m not sure exactly the evolution of the conversation but we got on the subject of misheard lyrics that reminded me of my favorite misheard lyric ever.

To set the stage, we have never censored much music, we have had lots of discussions about when it’s appropriate and not appropriate to use certain words (in some case, that is never) but we do give a lot of leeway where music is concerned. Also, music is very nearly always on when we are in the car.

My oldest son was about three and we were driving around. It happened that we were listening to a little Cypress Hill. Suddenly, we realize that the boy is singing. I was a little concerned for about half a second. The words he was singing were not exactly the words of the song. I turned down the volume just a little bit so my husband could hear the rousing rendition of “Kids in the Barn.”

I’m pretty sure it was more than a few years before he realized he’d been singing it wrong. It’s one of those moments where I really wish we’d had a video camera. That would be one for the highlight reels.

What are your favorite misheard lyrics?


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A Music Kind of Mood

I’m in a music kind of mood and being a bit more sentimental about it than usual. At first I thought that maybe the universe was trying to tell me something as everywhere I went, some song I loved once upon a time was playing – in the grocery store, in the gas station, in the car, everywhere. After a few days worth of errands, I realized if the universe was trying to tell me anything at all, it was that my taste in music is pretty broad. I went on a huge Bowie kick this year which led to a Nirvana kick (through Man who sold the world) which led to me hunting down my In Utero CD today.

Some of the music of my youth (image: Sarah Wagner)

Some of the music of my youth (image: Sarah Wagner)

I found a lot of CDs. My entire teenage collection was buried under my more recent CDs (I’m still looking for a few missing stragglers). Most of them have held up even after all these years for the most part. There are a few hiccups here and there (in the cds themselves) but I think after a little more than 20 years that’s not so bad. There is room enough in my heart for all the genres I’ve got – from Bach and Beethoven to Duran Duran, KMFDM, and Otep. I didn’t realize quite how large a spectrum my music took up but I’m having fun tripping down memory lane. I’ve discovered that my oldest kid is a lot like his mama, even if he lacks the proper appreciation of Little Miss Scare-All. Somehow I also remembered how stalkery and creepy the hidden track on Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill was.

Music pulls me  out of crap moods, stirs me to dance, makes housework almost not obnoxious. I know my neighbors likely all think I’m bats – white cat in one arm (and under my chin or in my hair or under my coat), two dogs on their leashes in the other hand, big bright blue headphones on, just bopping along to whatever is on the playlist. I drive my kids a little bats because I sometimes sing what I’m saying.

Every story has a playlist, every main character has a theme, more of less – some of them are real songs, some are only in my head. Most of my poems are songs in my head. More than one short story has been written while listening to one song on loop (this method gets to be a bit much but it works when I’m stuck in a rut and I’m thinking maybe I should give that a try again).

What’s your favorite song you haven’t heard in a decade or two?


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Stories and Soundtracks

Some writers work best in silence. I will never be one of those writers. For me, music and writing go hand in hand. The music I listen to will influence the story I’m working on. I love Pandora because I can tailor a station to suit what I’m aiming for with any particular story.

When I’m writing fantasy, I want sweeping scores, Lindsey Stirling, and rock and roll played by orchestras. Horror will always be accompanied by classical with a little opera and the occasional bit of heavy metal. Science fiction comes from metal, punk, and various electronica. For some reason, any work with an urban fantasy flair comes with classic rock and hairbands. Right now, I’m working on something with a decidedly (I hope) cyberpunk aesthetic. For this, the Juno Reactor station has been just about perfect.

Some stories, even years later, I can remember exactly what song was playing while writing certain parts. I can’t imagine I’m the only one.  What do you write to?

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