Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Soundtrack to my Writing Life

Being a creature of habit (in other words a typical Capricorn) from an early age I developed a routine around the way I worked, of which music played a significant part. Back in the days of LPs (remember those large shiney black things?) I would never start a study session without Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture or Handel’s Water music. It would have been as unthinkable as not playing a couple of rounds of solitaire (with REAL cards) while I ate my lunch. 

More recently when I needed to concentrate at work drafting agreements or finalising complex meeting minutes, I would put my iPod on and listen to an eclectic selection of music in a playlist called “Music to Work To”. This included Celtic and Opera.

You may be rolling your eyes and  thinking “OCD” here, which I am not at all but when I have a goal to achieve I find music and routine helps to soothe the savage beast. Putting the music on (and occasionally lighting the oil burner)  seems to provide a clue to my scatty brain that we are here to WORK.


As I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that my published novels were both written to music. THE KING’S MAN with its dark undertones had behind it the music of Purcell. The music of Loreena McKennit  features strongly in my writing world, and her eastern influence is providing background to one of my current “WIPS” (work in progress) which is partially set in the Arab world of North Africa in the seventeenth century.

At the moment I am deep into rewrites of my post World War One novel and you would think that maybe something 1920s or a selection of the war poetry of  Wilfred Owen might be the kick start, but oddly it is a simple little ballad by a young singer called Christina Perri.  Her song “Arms” seems to perfectly capture the fear on the part of both my hero and heroine to allow themselves to fall in love. I am probably singlehandedly responsible for the number of You Tube hits Christina’s video is experiencing as  neither the CD nor the digital download seems to be available in Australia yet, but here it is. I hope you enjoy it.


Do you have a musical soundtrack to your writing, reading or working life?