The Music of Writing Books

I have officially reached 200 plays of the theme song from HBO’s Rome. The count for the rest of the songs gradually lessens as it reaches the bottom of the playlist, because while I always play song number one (the theme song), I don’t always make it to the last. If 200 plays of one song seems excessive, let me explain.

Every book I write has its own soundtrack, a particular CD that I play over and over while I work on that particular book. My first completed novel was about a serial killer and I listened to Tom Petty’s Greatest Hits. “Free Fallin'” especially was my killer’s song. I’d pick up my pen, hit play, and by the time that song was into the first chorus, I’d be sucked so deep into my writing that I wasn’t even consciously hearing the music. Years later, hearing that song pulls me right back. I have no idea how many plays of that CD I listened to (this was before I had an Ipod keeping count for me), but it had to be an impressive number.

For the first book of my YA duo, I listened to the soundtrack from one of the Harry Potter films…leading to a curious split in my brain. Now when I hear that music, I don’t know which world to be sucked into – Hogwarts or the Tower, and it ends up being an odd mixture of both.

The second book of the YA duo, I was obsessed with Blackmore’s Night, specifically their album called “Ghost of a Rose”. Great stuff, now irrevocably tied to masks and a man called Dark, not renaissance faires as it is meant to be.

Having the same music playing over and over while I write is not nearly so maddening as it might seem, since the only time I really “hear” it is when I’m going under into the story or surfacing back out of it. And it serves an important purpose, because when I turn that particular music on, the creative part of my mind (the Othermind) is alerted that it’s now time to come out and play. Whether it bloody well wants to or not. And months after I’ve written the first draft and it’s time to begin revising the story, playing that same music again helps me get back into the story, back into the mood and feeling of the characters with much greater ease.

Plus, if I’ve heard the CD 200 times, who really wants to pay close attention to it? If I put on new music, I might be more interested in listening to the lyrics and tapping my foot to the beat rather than getting down to the writing. I might, I say, but of course I mean I would. The Othermind loves to be distracted by anything new, which is, I think, why so many writers tend to always use the same paper, the same pen, the same desk, the same little funny collection of frogs lined up on top of their monitor. Okay, so the frogs might be just me.

But 200 plays of Rome! I think that’s kind of cool, even though I have to admit that when I closed Word this evening, it was actually only 198. I clicked play 2 more times, just to make it a nice even number, thus maximizing the coolness.

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