If music be the food of thought - play on
When I am writing new and imaginative stuff, there are a few things I need to do in order to get myself in the mood. I can write blogs and magazine articles with the door to my study open and the sounds of our house filtering through. I am happy to answer questions about lost socks and whether they may eat the last bit of pudding for breakfast* safe in the knowledge that I can easily return to the virtual page and carry on as if uninterrupted. But if I’m endeavouring to write fantasy, I find the need to extract my brain from the mundane in order to tap into the imaginative stream that is so fulfilling. I firmly shut the study door – a signal to the rest of the house I wish to remain undisturbed. Pressing questions and fascinating news must wait until I emerge for coffee. The door shut, notes gathered, visor (like a golfer to keep the glare off my glasses) firmly in place there is just one more thing – music. I say music, most often it is, but sometimes what I need is sounds – more of which later.
Headphones are my best friend. I have the noise cancelling type that seem to wrap me in sound and immerse my mind in the task of writing. They have another significant benefit – they save the rest of the household from hearing the same tune over and again. Whilst writing the four books in the Crystal Bound series I listened – although ‘vaguely heard’ would be more accurate - to the soundtrack of Game of Thrones by Ramin Djawadi. This is great stuff because it has a lot of choir vocals that aren’t singing actual words. This is great for me because words seem to break the spell, which is why I can’t stand the radio on when I’m in flow. This is an obvious choice for someone writing dark fantasy – it has just the right sort of brooding menace which I like. Not all the story is dark – as a matter of fact when I began it – ten years ago – I was just writing a love story. So sometimes I like a good instrumental that does not have a distracting and overarching tune. Ludovico Einaudi is marvellous to work by. Just about anything by him inspires and settles the words onto the page. Piano music by Phamie Gow is helpful, but like Bach, is sometime off putting by its sheer beauty.
Onto sounds then. This is a recent discovery of mine and stems from the pleasure I have in hearing the rain on the skylight in my study. There is something very conducive about the sound of water, and I have discovered various ‘compilations’ of storm and rain noises’ on YouTube. Whilst we’re on the subject there are also sounds of nature – bee’s buzzing in flowers, breeze in the trees, that sort of thing and to my delight sounds of medieval villages. Yes, really. Horses clopping on cobbled streets and the distant ping of a blacksmith’s hammer. In fact, and I might be the last person on earth to discover this, but there are ‘sounds’ of all sorts to help set the mood - from stormy seas to tropical rainforest. Who knew?
Right, well, that’s the blog done. Time to make some coffee, shut the door and get on with the book…headphones on and… ahh sounds of the futuristic city which will do nicely.