Much is made in the writing community of the power of the visual aesthetic. Drawing together a collection of images to act as a guide to the look and feel of a piece you’re writing. Though that is a gross over simplification of the amazing work some of my colleagues produce.
It’s something I have toyed with to various degrees of success. Sometimes it works beautifully and… others? Well, you can just never find a picture with just the right amount of dismemberment, can you?
It’s so disappointing.
That said, I’ve found another type of inspiration works for me; music.
A ditty to unwind the tale
Sometimes it’s a play list with a common theme or feel but most of the time it’s a single song. One track which evokes an idea or creates a narrative which catches and develops between my ears. I guess it provides the seed or germ of an idea from which a tale may be spun.
This connection isn’t anything new, the reverse has been true for a long time. You can find literary illusions and references littered throughout songs old and new. Whilst researching a new short story recently, I was reminded of a song from my childhood. The track, Lady Eleanor by Lindisfarne (don’t worry if you don’t know it), is a song from the 1970’s which, it transpires, was inspired by an Edgar Allan Poe short story. So, my story was inspired by a song which was itself inspired by a story. Small world, eh?
Here’s the song if you’re of a curious turn of mind:
Inspire not inform
So far, I’ve found that the music helps an idea form and coalesce, but that it doesn’t actually colour it. It’s more an emotional framework into which the tale is formed, rather than a part of the tale itself.
A prime example is my short story, From. This was written with Hayling by FC Kahuna on loop, round and round the song went and so the story formed:
I considered including a link to the song with the story itself. A kind of serving suggestion for the work. Ultimately, I decided not to, but I am still not sure if I should have.
The beat goes on…
The song, genre and track vary from piece to piece, or at least so far. I think that’s part of the fun to me now, I feel like there is a story to be told in every song I hear, and I now find myself trying to find it.
Sometimes it’s a short story, but, in the weirdest example to-date, a single line from a song spawned the Walls of Tartarus universe in my head. That’s at least four short stories and possibly three full size novels worth of inspiration so far. I’ve not dared listen to the song since, lest it happen again.
Do you use music as an inspiration for your work? Or can you not work with distraction?
I’d also love to know if you’d like to know which tracks inspired work I have completed and how? If so, let me know in the comments and I will put together a blog for you lovely folks.
I am also going to put up the music which is inspiring my current short story, currently titled Lep, on twitter, should you want a taste of what is coming up from me.
You can find the Lep music thread of tweets starting here: https://twitter.com/sathurtle/status/1083752914831720455