Music and aesthetics as inspiration

There’s a fair bit I’ve been thinking about talking about here, but the one that immediately springs to mind is the mechanics of writing. To those who don’t write, writing may appear like a bit of a black art. In fact, I can only assume that it is viewed in much the same way that I might view the process of writing music. That is, easy if you know how to and mystical if you don’t.

I have several techniques that work for me in aiding writing. The first is the layout of my office. I like neat, tidy and efficient. I cannot work in a place that is dirty, a tip or is obviously a temporary location for the computer. Get these factor’s sorted, and we’re a long way on the road to effective writing territory. Remember: it’s not about magic inspiration from the surroundings, but more making sure that nothing extraneous bothers you and causes a distraction whilst you are trying to write.

The second is music to suggest a mood. I know that other writers vary on this one. There are some who cannot write with music on and others who prefer it. I’m one of those who definately prefers it. I suppose writing fiction is more tolerant of having music playing around me. I use it for two purposes: to set the mood of the piece I am writing, and to screen out annoying background noises like other people moving around in the house, or playing GTA or Guitar Hero downstairs.

Some music just suggests a basic mood and acts as a screen to these background noises and does very little more than this. Most music would fall into this catagory. However there are certain albums that I play a lot and will actively put on when the topic I am writing suggests a need to be influenced whilst I write. There’s a track by The Flaming Lips called (from memory) “Ascending Pavonis Mons by balloon” which is perfect for a scene I wrote involving a speedboat cruising around a coastline. If you don’t believe me, find this music, listen to it and see what I mean. There are also a couple of Jean Michel-Jarre tracks that are good for writing scenes in a setting of industrial decay – “Ethnicolor”, which is from the LP Zoolook is one I use a lot. Another LP I never grow tired of is “Shine” by the Space Brothers. I received two promo copies of this album in 1999 on double CD and triple LP and I have never grown tired of listening to them. There are also other groups such as Rammstein, Cranes and Delerium that work well to set a mood. Much of “Orb of Arawaan” was written to the sound of MCMXCAD and Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi! by Enigma a lot of the time.

The final thing that aids my writing is my keyboard. Call me weird (and many probably do) but I cannot write without having a keyboard that feels just right. In practical terms this means the cheap-ass Mitsumi keyboard that was new back in 1998. The whole point of this keyboard is that I can ignore it and just concentrate on my writing. Any other keyboard leaves me aware of the keyboard’s feel and unable to concentrate fully as a result. It requires an adapter these days to plug into modern computers, as the AT port is no longer used. I even bought a spare identical make and model one off Ebay a couple of years ago just in case I ever have this one break. Luckily my sweat is not very acidic, so the keys are not too worn and I can still roughly see where the letters are.

I’ve finished editting another short story called “Loneliness of the long distance Trucker” and hopefully that will be being uploaded to the Portfolio page later today, so look out for it. The current book is going quite well, and the first draft is almost complete; I hope to get it done by the end of next weekend. After that I will just put it to one side and get on with editing the second edition of “Daytrippers” before returning to it after the break. I find this time away from a book can help in the subsequent editing process for the second draft.