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Nothing gets me in the mood to write like the right music, and each story has its own soundtrack. After writing to my playlists for so long, I now find that hearing particular tracks actually flicks a switch in my mind and sets me off imagining my other worlds and ignoring this one. Sometimes it’s the pace that inspires me to envision an exciting or moving scene; other times it’s the shape of the melody that brings certain feelings to mind. Often it’s the lyrics that are particularly poetic or appealing, and form notions of a relationship, a dynamic or a sequence of events, but usually, I suppose, it’s the harmonious way these elements all come together to create a piece of music I can write to. Chaotic music is distracting – I really like Kate Miller-Heidke but cannot write to her off-kilter style – and instrumental is too boring, so I prefer to use that for academic writing. The Elm Stone Saga books have been written and edited to a playlist that has changed in content with time but has maintained the same tone so that I keep the same direction and feel for the whole series. Here, in no particular order, is a list of six of my favourite songs to write The Elm Stone Saga to.
1. Zombie, The Cranberries
What I love: the lead-in is soft and it builds (I don’t like being dumped straight into a song, I need a small lead-in) and then I love the strong drum/bass/vocal combination at the chorus. I also love that this is Irish and political. I listened to this a lot writing Unbidden.
2. Real World, Matchbox Twenty
Ah, my life anthem :) What I love: the intro is so upbeat and cheerful, and the pace and tone sits really well with me. The lyrics are fun and nonsensical (I wonder what it’s like to be a superhero/ I wonder where I’d go when I could fly around downtown…) But it’s the chorus that more or less sums up how I feel about the obnoxiousness of life trying to make unreasonable demands on my time.You know, like, 'go to work', or 'you're stupidly tired, go to sleep now' or 'you're a living thing and survive on food, not writing; go eat'.
3. Run, Collective Soul
What I love: it’s such a simple little song. The slow but short intro builds to something more after the first verse, and then steps up again for the chorus. I like that the song is soft without being weak, and I like the profound questions posed by the lyrics. On top of that, I have a lot of childhood memory associated with this song and I suppose that nostalgia comes up when the song does and helps write contented, familiar scenes.
4. Listen Like Thieves, INXS
What I love: well, it’s INXS, what’s not to love? I think I like that it’s a familiar song from growing up with INXS fans for parents so when it plays, I don’t have to stop writing to listen to the lyrics. I like the beat and the punchiness of the chorus. This is an easy-listening writing song that fits into my general writing playlist.
5. Seven Wonders, Fleetwood Mac
What I love: I love all Fleetwood Mac but the synth-y keyboard-y opening to this one is so powerful and I have always, always loved it the best. The lyrics convey a sense of missing out on something greatly desired that is tangible to me. The ding-ding-ding, ding-ding-ding pattern sounds to me like musical sparkles :) I also like to write to most anything to which I can sing along without thinking and I used to listen to this CD on repeat because I loved Stevie Nicks' dress on the cover.
6. Downfall, Matchbox Twenty
What I love: strong opening, strong music through the verses and then such power in the choruses. The choir adds to the grandeur of this song. But most of all the lyrics! I love playing with this concept in my mind, of two interdependent parties whose relationship is essential to one and ultimately destructive to the other. The pace of the song feeds me when I’m writing dynamic, active scenes. It's also just generally one of my favourite songs :)