I write to music. Actually, I do almost everything to music. When I was younger, I used to wish life was like a constant musical, or a movie and there could be a soundtrack playing at all times. Kind of like on Ally McBeal, where everyone had their own theme song, or in Dancer In The Dark where songs just erupt from the every day. It's now possible for me to do this. I have a good chunk of music on my iPhone, which goes with me everywhere, and I almost have the iPod function on.
So I am just slightly obsessed with music. It's not a big deal. It's not like it hurts anyone.
But I know that some writers need absolute silence to formulate thoughts, while some need the TV in the background. Some people can't write to music, but need it to edit. I need the TV off, the kids away or asleep, and the music quietly on. And the artist I listen to has to be just right. This is a very big deal for me. I have had a muse for each book. Each one has been different, maybe based on the tone of the character.
JUST A LITTLE RAIN was written exclusively to my Jeremy Enigk playlist, which includes all his solo work, Sunny Day Real Estate, and The Fire Theft. I'd start my writing day by picking a song to begin with, then shuffle through the rest.
When I started WHERE CURRENTS PULL, I started with the old JE playlist, thinking it good luck, but I found I couldn't get into my new character Natalie. Everything I wrote sounded like Eliza. I tried switching to Pete Yorn, because I'd recently seen him in concert and he looked just like my vision of Sawyer, which blew my mind. But his music wasn't right either. It took a while to find my muse, and happened unexpectedly, as usual. Every time Panic Switch came on the radio, my kids and I would freak out. So I downloaded the song. Then all the Silversun Pickups albums. (Legally, because artists should get paid for their work.) The book and character came easily to me then, and I wrote the rest to the SSPU playlist, this time not on shuffle, but in song order, album order. Although, the last chapter (that furious writing that comes at the end when you both want to see it come together and hate to see it over) was written to a mix. Matt & Kim, Monsters Of Folk, Pete Yorn, The Promise Ring, The Republic Tigers, the sea and cake, Shudder To Think, SSPU, Sleeping At Last, SDRE, Tegan and Sara, Timbaland, White Rabbits. I listened to that mix on repeat until I finished. It was a couple days, I remember, but the music didn't get stale. It was like a cheering section.
ABOVE THE WAVES has proven to be difficult. I've tried a number of bands that have worked for a while, but not enough to keep me going for the long haul. I started with SSPU, which was no good for Amanda at all. I still love the band, but they don't work for her. I have used the following bands: The Appleseed Cast, Local Natives, Bon Iver, Band Of Skulls. To no avail. But I think I've found what I'm looking for. I have two playlists I've been alternating between and, between them (and my JE playlist, which I use for times I'm feeling stuck because it's uplifting to me in the way Gospel music is for church-types), they're doing the job pretty freaking well.
Playlist 1: The Jealous Sound/Knapsack. Reasons: I love Blair Shehan's voice (which is why I include Knapsack, because TJS doesn't have enough music out there- *finish that new album, boys*), but the band is so fantastic. Energetic, and interesting. Emotional and thoughtful lyrics. Oh, and the fact that I named the book after one of their songs. Yep, love them.
Playlist 2: A Conor Oberst collection. It came to me either in the middle of the night or in a dream, I can't remember. But when you wake thinking of something, I find it's best to hold onto that thought because it's poignant. The something that hit me was the song "Bowl Of Oranges," and I knew I had to reference Bright Eyes in this book. Amanda has a Conor Oberst obsession, and now I do as well. This is a good thing.
Listening to: Playlist 2