Monday Blog Game: Music!

Today marks the return of the Monday Blog Game – I’ll pick a topic at random, and if you want to play along, feel free to leave a comment with a link to your post (if the spam filter traps it, don’t worry, I’ll pull it back out) or comment directly on the topic.

Today’s topic: MUSIC.

I listen to many kinds of music, from country to rock to classical. I like a selection for different times and moods.

Before I started writing mysteries, I used to listen to music while writing. Since 2011, however, I just can’t do it, and it took me almost two years to realize why: outside music confuses my mental ear.

A lot goes into writing a mystery (or any other novel). Plots. Subplots. A cast of unusual characters (most of mine, shameless liars), and–when you’re writing a series–continuing themes. It’s a lot to keep in your head all at once, and more so when you’re trying to write to a personal cadence (or, as some people call it, maintaining your “voice”). My writing voice ebbs and flows with the action, sometimes in longer lines and sometimes shortened. Whether writing first drafts or editing, I need to listen carefully to ensure the voice stays constant.

Although I love music, listening to it while writing now seems more like playing two competing soundtracks against one another – like Metallica sharing the stage with a marching band. It doesn’t work. It becomes an unintelligible mess.

I miss the music sometimes. There are days when I wish I could play it while working, but every time I try the result’s the same–and it isn’t pretty–so I’ve finally given up altogether, with one exception.

When the novel is finished, and typeset, and my editor sends me the “first pass” pages for final review, I put on music.

At that point, the book is finished. The only editing I can do is correction of typographical errors and other mistakes, so I don’t have to listen for line and voice. In fact, I can’t listen too closely, because if I get caught in the voice I could miss a typo.

This means that each of my novels has a “soundtrack” of sorts – the music I listen to while reading the final, typeset version. In the case of CLAWS OF THE CAT, my music of choice was INVINCIBLE the first of four albums by Two Steps from Hell.

13H09 Invincible Cover (Fair Use)[INVINCIBLE album cover image: copyright Steven R. Gilmore, reproduced in low-resolution thumbnail in reliance on Fair Use Doctrine to serve as identification of the artist and work in question.]

If you don’t know their music, give it a try. The group’s website bears the tagline, “Music makes you braver,” and their music certainly sounds both brave and inspiring. I listen to it often in the car or while relaxing at home, and the lack of lyrics makes it great writing music … or would, if not for that marching band romping ’round my head.

Do you listen to music while you work or write? What soundtrack inspires you?