It’s this feeling magnified by ten thousand.
As well as some of this…
…and lots of this…
That’s almost all that needs to be said.
I’m currently experiencing one of my worst bouts with the evil beast known as Writer’s Block. I have tried time and time again to work on this specific project of mine but find that it’s hard for me to put myself into the scene. No matter the music I listen to (or don’t listen to), no matter the mood I’m in, and no matter how much cleaning I do to try and facilitate some ideas, I just can’t seem to get a grip on what I want to write.
So I’ve made it to that pivotal moment where one has to force themselves to do it and deal with the crappiness of its quality just to get going.
Sometimes, I forget it doesn’t have to be perfect.
First, it needs to be finished. There is always an after event for editing where one can rip the guts out of a book and put everything back together the way it’s meant to be.
This isn’t that time. Sometimes, it is impossible to find inspiration to work on something no matter what you do. Only one thing can be done.
So… here goes. Forcing it. Ugh.
Late in October at one of the Halloween Readings that I organize, I listened as several fellow writers and friends discussed plans to partake in this year’s NaNoWriMo. Never heard of it? It’s like a month-long marathon for us writers. It stands for National Novel Writing Month. Think of it as a writing spirit quest if you will. A writer commits to the challenge of writing 50,000 words in one month’s time, therefore writing an entire (or most of) one book. In order to accomplish this seemingly Herculean effort, a writer must write at least 1,667 words a day to finish on time.
However easy it might seem, there is something that we writers seem to excel in all the better: procrastination. It’s one of my top ten talents actually. I didn’t decide that I was going to join the scores of writers participating in NaNoWriMo until 9 days into the month. I should have had 15,0003 words written. Here we are now 19 days into the month and I still have less than 10,000 words. I’m supposed to be more than 1/2 way completed by now.
KNOWING WHEN TO START OVER…
Last night in an effort to sit down and finally make some headway with my current WIP, I plopped down in front of my word processor, brewed a nice pot of coffee, and opened up the story. It’s sitting at page 200 and in my mind, I’m about 2/3 of the way done with the novel. I had hopes of finishing it up by the middle of September and then allow it to sit so that I could come back with fresh eyes later. Except that I have now found myself stuck between a rock and a hard place with my protagonist. She’s injured, in confinement, and with very few (and I mean VERY few) options of escape. As I’ve plugged along, I’ve known that this was going to take lots and lots of revising and editing, that the story seemed off-kilter the way it was and could use tweaking. But I wanted to save it for when I’d actually completed the 2nd draft of the book. (The first draft was only fifty pages long and I’d decided to reinvent everything and start over).
It occurred to me recently that I have never fully explained why write these blogs. Sure, I love discovering new music and sharing my discoveries with people. I like to write and listen to them. But there is something more to it, something I hope you writers and readers will appreciate. I once remember looking at another author’s playlist of songs that she listened to while writing her book years ago. When she got to a certain song on her list, she put in parentheses next to it “Generic action music”. I remember being extremely annoyed by that. Not sure if it was a blast against the writing of action scenes in general or if it was against that genre of music (in this case it was Fat Boy Slim). The author has since changed the list, removing the random note. And while this author shall remain nameless (*cough*Stephanie Meyer *cough* *cough*), I would really like to take a moment and focus on just how important action scenes are in the books that require them and how a certain song can really fit in with the scene you have in mind.
When I listen to music as I’m writing, I’m not simply using it as background noise. It’s more than just a distraction from the world going on around me. I tend to visualize the scenes in my novels and, often, I will do this to the tune from a song whether it is instrumental or vocal. There are certain songs that I can close my eyes to and see everything that the characters are doing in time with the music. I suppose it could be seen as a form of synesthesia, although I wouldn’t say I’m seeing a specific color while listening to a specific song or hearing a specific voice. This generally happens when I’m writing an action scene more often than not.
Inner conflict is one of the sole drives in stories. Characters battling with inner demons about what they should do or coming to terms with what they already have done. To me, there’s nothing more emotive and heart-wrenching, as a simple instrumental song to illustrate this inner turmoil. And it was with extreme excitement a few months back, that I discovered Jessica Curry’s soundtrack to the indie game, “Dear Esther.”
“Dear Esther” is a short paranormal/mystery game created originally as a mod from the Half Life series. I’ve already referenced mods before in my “Cry of Fear Soundtrack” post. My favorite game commentator, HarshlyCritical, did a let’s play of this game which can be found here. The game follows a male protagonist who wanders about an island reminiscing about his lost love and alluding to several scientific formulas and Biblical passages. The game’s pacing is slow but the atmosphere it provides is stunning. And Curry’s score for it ultimately swept me away. Haunting, delicate, and sorrowful in some places but also inspiring and uplifting in others, the 17 track album was probably one of my best buys this year. Today, I’d like to share 8 of those tracks with you.
I enjoy any piece of music that not only introduces us as listeners to a story but also goes on to tell it. Such pieces display a variety of emotions which can make our hearts race, break, and soar within the lifespan of the song. In classical music especially, because the pieces are generally longer, it’s easier to lose oneself in a symphony, a suite, or an aria. With eyes closed, it’s almost as if we can see each thing that happens to the characters through the different movement. One of the composers with this talent is Antonin Dvorak. Today, I’ll be sharing 6 of his pieces with you and how they’ve inspired my writing.
There are so many musicians out there who have tremendous creative energy. These people are usually involved in multiple projects and seem to spit out song after song as if it’s no trouble at all. And the quality is always outstanding! Because their projects are so varied, there’s also something in there for everyone to enjoy. A couple years ago, I had listened to maybe two or three of Trent Reznor’s songs through the band Nine Inch Nails. I wasn’t a huge fan. Then… I discovered the Ghosts album. And since then, Reznor has been one of my go to musicians when I’m looking for inspiration on a writing project.
Though most recognize Jaws as a terrifying film made by the exceptional Steven Spielberg in 1975, it was first a novel written by Peter Benchley. This man could write! He pinpointed a story that hadn’t been utilized by anyone else at the time, recognized the terror imminent in it, and wrote it wonderfully. The premise: what happens when a shark comes to the town/city you call home and doesn’t go away?
When the book was turned into a motion picture, one of the greatest successes was John Williams score for the film. Out of it, he created one of the most signature pieces of horror music ever using just two notes. The theme from this movie is something that still induces heart-pounding fear, even to those who haven’t seen the film! Along with the shark’s theme, there are several other haunting tracks and adventurous themes reminiscent of old pirate movies (which is where Williams drew his inspiration from.)
Cry of Fear is a custom full-conversion modification for the video game Half Life 1. (I honest to God tried to explain this better in a paragraph but… I just confused myself. If you’re really curious, click this link.) The mod was created by Team Psykskallar. The story is about of a deeply depressed individual named Simon who awakens in a dark alleyway after being hit by a car. He spends the game trying to get home and evades several monsters whom have appeared on his journey. The game is very psychological and the character spends several moments of the game wondering if he’s gone insane. It was the music in this mod however, that truly had me engrossed.
Good morning, readers!
In the last few days, I’ve finished reading The Hunger Games and watched the entire second season of Downton Abbey. In both the book and the television series, I find myself longing to return to the lives of the characters I so fell in love with. Thankfully, I have Catching Fire (the second book in the Hunger Games Trilogy) to read. But what of Downton Abbey? Alas, I’ll have to wait for the next season. But I will because I am so enamored of the storyline and the people who populate it.
When you fall in love with certain characters, you have an immediate loyalty to them. You want to follow them on their journey. You want to see more of them. You’re compelled to stick by them through whatever happens and you’re determined to make sure that they get what they deserve, whether good or bad. There are several characters in books and television shows that I remember from years ago that I miss. And I found myself wondering this morning, why is that? Why are they so much more stained in my memory than others? What are the makings of a memorable character?