As a writer I am constantly looking at each scene that flows from my brain to my hands, across the keyboard and onto the screen as one that must be full of the senses. The hardest one for me to express and to put onto paper is sound.

When I write – especially when I’m really in the groove of things and it’s all just flowing with ease – I either have ear buds crammed very un-hygienically into my ears or the sound on my computer turned up loud enough to block out even the clatter of the keys as I type. Music literally flows into my brain and pulls the story from me. Or at least that’s how it feels. I have a playlist made up that are specifically songs that in my brain remind me of the story I’m telling. I have numerous other playlists of music that just generally inspire creativity in me for when I’m working on other writing projects.

I don’t know what it’s like to not have music playing, either in the background or as the central focus of what I’m doing at that moment. I listen to pretty much anything and anyone – everything from Broadway soundtracks to classical to country to pop to alternative to rock to folk. I have the weirdest Spotify playlists of anyone I’ve ever met. Most people I know have a genre or two of music that is their go-to with one or two artists or albums that are out of the main vein. Not me – everything seems out of the main vein. It’s hard to find a way to describe it. I have Johnny Cash next to the Bangles beside Bollywood next to Christian worship beside P!nk and Paramore. I have Jefferson Airplane, the Doors, Peter Paul and Mary, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. But I also have Matchbox Twenty, the Gin Blossoms, OAR and the Barenaked Ladies. And I have Usher, Missy Elliot, Drake, Lauren Hill, Eminem and Coolio. Then I have Mary Chapin Carpenter, Sugarland, Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Shirley Bassey, Alison Krauss, Tom Petty, Leonard Cohen, Waylan Jennings and Lyle Lovett all in the same playlist.

So how do I take this eclectic slurry of sound – all of which invokes imagery and creativity in me – into my novel? How do I get my characters to show what they’re hearing and make it reminiscent of the sounds I heard when I brought that scene to life? I can explain what someone is saying but I spend hours figuring out how to tone their voice and what it sounds like. And I’m trying to relate it to music because to me laughter and talking, even yelling can all be related back to some song I heard at some point. To add more levels to it I am creating a fantastical world where not a single person in that Land except for my two main characters have even heard of the kind of music I listen to. I even have a scene where they create the musical version of an iPod, because the people of the Land are so fascinated by this ability to carry music around with you wherever you go.

Music is. I have no words for it. It inspires, it emotes, it feels. The rest is silence. And yet even in that I can hear music.

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