Musical Foreplay

I’ve read about music to listen to while you write, but not about the music you listen to in the hours when you are not writing. For me the music I listen to when I’m not writing is more important!

Music with a specific purpose

The novel I’m working right now has many layers of cultural/socio-polical complexity. It’s non-American centered, set in a made up country in Melanesia and has an ensemble cast.

I have a Spotify soundtrack that contains some of the music that resonates with Palamawe, from traditional songs of Papua New Guinea, to Reggaeton, to Thai Rock and Roll, to Pinoy Pop music. Listening to it reconnects me of the complexity of my setting in a way that is fun and easy. It dampens the background radiation of my day to day life and cultural assumptions. It makes me think of what music is missing and if there are voices missing in my story.

I can think about who would be listening to what music and in what circumstances.  It gets me thinking about my characters in new ways while my body is cleaning or exercising. What music do Jack and Bayan argue about? In quieter times did Eva play guitar by the light of a campfire? I chuckle at the idea of Eva playing ukelele as a young woman, the first time I’ve really thought about Eva when she wasn’t a matriarch with a bazillion responsibilities. What’s on Abua’s iPod during the long drives to the FTC compound?

I often can’t listen to this playlist when I’m working on my novel, although that was my original intention. It’s too distracting and eclectic. But I like the way it gets my brain moving through the world in new ways.

Music to say @$#% you world! I have things to say!

They Might Be Giants album for kids Science is Real makes me feel happy. Meet the Elements and The Alphabet of Nations remind me of the diversity and potential of the world. They make me a little moist around the eyeballs and make me want to write stories that inspire that kind of wonder.

Lights Camera Action by Bliss N Esso remind me that you have to keep working. And that even if you ‘make it’ you’ve got to work hard to keep your voice and make the art you love. I love the slogging pace of this song, the rhythm makes me think of putting your shoulder to the plough and pushing.

“You wanna rhyme but are you in it for the long run. ’cause you dream about platinum on this mic, you better wake the f@$k up, it don’t happen over night”

My intelligence rails against any notion of perfect and celebrating drinking culture too much makes me feel queasy.

But I go to Pink so that my lonely rebel self can feel love, community and determination.

People in the Front Row” by Hilltop Hoods makes me happy. It plugs me into the wonderful feeling I aspire towards and seldom get, when you know your words have been of service and have made a connection. I enjoy listening to hiphop play with language. The hiphop I listen to often talks about process, politics, and the struggle to make authentic, fresh art.

What’s your musical foreplay?

For bringing your world to life or for just shaking your hands to the sky and saying I SHALL CREATE! What is the soundtrack you use to hold true to your passions and make you better at chasing your dreams?

Post links to the music you love in the comments or do a blog post about the music that muses you. Share the awesome :-).

Derby meets Writing – no such thing as no impact

One of the wonderful things about falling in love with an activity or community is the way it gives you new metaphors to describe things. In roller derby penalties generally do not get called if there is no impact. If you crash into the back of someone (back block) and they don’t budge an inch there is no impact and no penalty.

But of course on a broader level we always impact each other. What you do matters, what I do matters, that smile from a stranger on the bus might make my day and remember that joy is a gift.

Today I read this article “No Such Thing As No Impact” on derbylife, inspired by the untimely death of a skater. When I read these words I knew I had to share it with you: “An attractive quality of our derby culture is that, when done well, we are permitted to be simultaneously our most vulnerable and most powerful. Ideally, we give each other the time and space to transform.”

And it made me think about the writing communities we build. The brief intense communities of conventions and the sustained communities online or in meat space. When we write and when we read we expose ourselves.

We are vulnerable to each other and share some of the most beautiful, mangled, bleeding, loving, angry, joyful, despairing, hopeful parts of ourselves. We are vulnerable and sometimes we forget that.

This is a privilege and the communities of practice we build are important. When we write, when we read, when we critique, we are part of something that asks deeply of hearts and minds. If we become deadened to that our writing becomes boring, our reading becomes jaded. At it’s best we should have those same qualities as derby at its finest, something transformative, powerful, a gift and a joy.

Today there are people in writing and fandom grieving for people they will not see again. And there are people in derby grieving for people they will never see again. My heart goes out to those who have lost people they love, these people who most certainly made an impact.

May we be courageous, giving and joyously vulnerable in our writing, our reading and the communities we build. Often it is when we remember the fallen that we remember the truth of every day, there is no such thing as no impact.