Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Music, Art, and Writing - How The Three Support Each Other

I love to write. I’ve been writing since the age of nine and I think I’ll always write, since for me, writing is the same as breathing. Maybe more important (I don’t know, I’ve luckily never faced having to not breathe).

It hasn’t always been easy to write, though. I’ve faced dry spells, which are about as fun as trying to install drywall with a ferret for a helper. While there are many and varied tools that one can use to help oneself out of a drywall, today I thought I’d share the triangle of music, art, and writing.

I write three pages of longhand every morning in my journal. I got into the habit after doing the exercises in Julia Cameron’s book, The Artitst’s Way. These pages are separate from my story craft, and help support it. She also recommends weekly “Artist Dates,” where you take yourself on a date somewhere festive – and how you define “festive” is up to you. It doesn’t have to take money or a lot of time, just someplace alone, yourself and your inner artist.

In doing these, I remembered (or maybe recovered, as in discovering something lost from under a pile of debris) that I love art. I live in Chicago and our art museum has free days, and sometimes free evenings. I started going to look at the exhibits on a semi-regular basis and one year, even joined for the year and went almost twice a month. The influx of images, even just the smell of the place, kindled things in me that helped me become inspired.

Even if one doesn’t have access to a physical museum, one can visit the collections of many of the world’s finest institutions online. But don’t overlook even the smallest town’s offerings. I’ve been to the Superman Museum in Metropolis, Illinois, and the Museum in Quincy, California. There are things of value in even the most humble places. One can even find art in the library, if one starts to look at the lush, full color books of different artists, periods in history, or catalogs of particular museum collections.

The other discovery/recovery I made was in the area of music. I remember as a child spending hours listening to my favorite bands, over and over, in the seclusion of my room. Using headphones was a rare treat, since my mother was concerned about hearing loss, but I could – and did – listen for hours in my bedroom to various things on my stereo.

Now, with the internet, I’ve discovered services like Pandora that allow you to build a “station” around a particular music type. Sadly, Pandora’s only available in the states, but one can use other services, You Tube, and iTunes to build up collections of music that speak to a mood.

It was only a short hop between the enjoyment of music for myself, and the connection between my writing and the music. Particular characters liked particular music and, with Pandora, I could build stations around those characters. Rachel and I have a new release this week from Torquere, called Emerald Fire, and I built a Pandora station around the main character, Teeka. Teeka is a dancer and lives on a desert planet, so I built the station around the music of such ensembles as Beats Antique.

In a moment of synergy, one of the writers in my writing group is also a dance instructor. She and I got to talking one evening after group and I mentioned my Pandora character stations. She shared that she was stumped for an upcoming performance because her troupe had gotten bored with their “same old music selections.” I described the station I had built for Teeka and she proposed the band to her troupe and voila! I attended their dance performance last week at which they performed a dance to music I had suggested. Talk about a small world.

What do you do to support your writing or reading? Do you have special “reading music” that you use when you read certain authors or genres? I got on a kick with the band The Cars back in the day and now, when I hear Rick Ocasek’s voice, I’m reminded of Patricia McKillip’s Riddlemaster of Hed series because I had been listening to The Cars while reading it. What about you?

A. Catherine Noon
and Rachel Wilder
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Watch for EMERALD FIRE, new from Torquere Publishing


Darla M Sands said...

Great post! It reminds me that I've let mundane concerns overwhelm my pleasures of writing, art, and even music (which is available in several forms right at my fingertips!). Thanks for this. Perhaps I'll let myself play a little today.

A. Catherine Noon said...

That's great news, Darla; I hope you do! Play is so critical. It's funny how we let ourselves forget to do it, isn't it?

A. Catherine Noon said...

What's your favorite form of music? Do you like to play different things depending on what you're doing?

Rachel Wilder said...

I love listening to movie soundtracks while I'm writing. It stimulates my muse! Not alot of art museums in Las Vegas so I try to get some inspiration by walking outdoors like Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire.

A. Catherine Noon said...

Ooh. I like soundtracks too! It's fun to think of soundtracks for our books, as well, and imagine them as cinematic productions.

Red Rock is my favorite, as is Mount Charleston. :)

Nikki M said...

I definitely take inspiration from music, as I think you probably knew :) I still fall back to Gladiator for writing and Mary Chapin Carpenter's Come On Come On CD for other kinds of online work.

I have some of the art postcards from the Indianapolis museum hanging on the wall where I see them every day. Next time you come visit we'll go see the Native American beading at the Portland Art Museum!

A. Catherine Noon said...

Ooh, I'd love to see the beading exhibit! I saw some here at the Art Institute in Chicago and recognized one of the artists from a beading magazine that I subscribe to. I had a full-on fan moment, sitting on the floor trying to get a close-up of the item in the case (it was a tea tray built with seed beads woven into designs like flowers and people).

You know, as you say music to support 'other online work' it occurs to me I hadn't thought of that. I use it for writing, and for "me" work, but I don't have an anthem for when I'm online doing various things. That's a cool idea! I'll have to think about what would work for me. (I just had the song "Love Will Bring Us Together" pop into my head, lol.)