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
A. Catherine Noon