music

In which I muse on musical muses

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You might have been following Elaina James’ very lovely blog series for Mslexia about her dream of becoming a lyricist. Of course you might not. If not, I suggest you jolly well go over there and read it now. I can wait.

*taps fingers impatiently*

Ah, sod it. I can’t wait. You’ll just have to catch up. Anyway, in celebration of the final installment of that blog series Elaina has asked a whole host of writers, bloggers and innocent passersby to join her in a blog-based celebration of all things writerly and musical – talking about how music has inspired and influenced our writing. And I enthusiastically agreed to join in because a) Elaina is lovely and b) I wasn’t 100% listening to the question.

Which leaves me with a problem, because, to be honest, I’ve never really been a music person. I mean I don’t dislike music. It can be perfectly pleasant. Few things take the edge of a silence more satisfactorily. But in those student conversations about a specific riff in an album track by Harpsichord Gibbon I was always the one just sitting quietly thinking about cake. I’ve never really understood listening to music as an activity in itself; music, for me, is essentially a background to doing something else.

So initially I didn’t think I’d be able to say anything about music as an inspiration for writing, but when I thought about it a bit more I realised that music definitely does impinge on what and how I write. Sometimes it can be a lyric that gets stuck in my head and becomes a sort of anthem for a particular character or storyline. Sweet Nothing I’ve mentioned before is a romance story about romance. It’s about playing around with the idea that there’s one true soulmate out there for any of us, and with the idea that romance and attraction are reliable ways of finding that person. And when I think about that notion I can’t help but think about Tim Minchin’s awesome song about love and romance* ‘If I didn’t have you.’

At the moment I’m writing a book that’s partly set in the 1970s and 80s, and I’ve made a little playlist of Bowie, Kate Bush and Stock, Aitken & Waterman to take the edge off the writing time silence. And that’s really helpful – not because I’m inspired by any one particular song or lyric, but because the music of a time instantly brings to mind the fashion, decor, and news of the time as well.

So that’s me and music and writing for you. There’s a rundown of wh else is participating on Elaina’s own blog. I heartily encourage you to go take a look.

 

*Not actually about love and romance. Actually about maths which is appropriate for Sweet Nothing too.

Where I try to make the Internet pick my Desert Island Discs for me.

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It’s Christmas! This means that party season is upon us. Fatness is growing (yeah, I know what I said here, and I’ll totally get back to that in January. Totally), and hungoverism is becoming the order of the day.

But internet I need your help, because tonight’s Christmas meal has A Theme. Desert Islands Discs, albeit a cutdown dinner party friendly version. So I have to select three tunes, one book and one luxury item that make me appear cool, witty and interesting by this evening.

This is a challenge. I’m not, generally speaking, a massive muso. I play music as a functional exercise to take the edge of the quiet, usually when I’m supposed to be writing and the crushing silence of an extended lack of typing becomes oppressive. So, for me, thinking of three tunes at all is a bit of a stretch.

And one book? ONE book? I own several hundred books, possibly into the thousands, and my favourite is generally whichever I’m looking at right now. How can I possibly be expected to commit to just one book for the rest of forever? The rest of forever is, potentially, ages.

And a luxury item. That could be anything. Am I allowed to pick a person? John Cleese picked Michael Palin, but specified that he would have him stuffed. I’m not sure that really helps. If I’m not allowed a person then what? I could be all dull and writerly and demand paper and pens, but that is very boring, isn’t it?

So help me out Internet? Three tunes. One book. One luxury. What would you pick? (And if you want to hear what I go for in the end, just subscribe or follow and you’ll get a little notification as soon as I get around to letting you all know).