Post-script Note: I get a little daydreamy when I listen to music, and I wrote this last night in a music trance. Forgive me if it comes off a bit spacey…
The well has been a bit dry the last few weeks. I’m reading a very long book, and haven’t finished anything that I’m particularly enthusiastic to write about. I haven’t had much to say here on the blog, but I’ve been desperately wanting to write. Blaming it on a lack of time, I decided yesterday morning that I would devote this weekend to filling up the well, using some strategies learned during my quest to be a “writer” (will I ever have a good idea for a novel?).
So, when I got home from work yesterday, I sat down on the couch, pen in hand, waiting for ideas to spring forth from my head like my least-favorite goddess sprung forth from Zeus’ noggin. Didn’t happen. After an hour or so of brainstorming and internet-reading, I decided to step away. Try a different approach.
Now, before I stepped away from the internet, I was pondering music and playlists, thanks to an ongoing conversation with SJ from Snobbery on good music. SJ has some playlists to share with me, per my request, and I decided to hit up one of my old playlists for inspiration. This is how I used to always spur on writing in college. When I had to come up with a short story by noon the next day for my Creative Writing class, I would simply turn to music as my muse. Lately, I’ve been in a dry spell with music, so I haven’t really listened to much of anything but books on tape.
I know they’ve been praised many times before~ Hornby’s High Fidelity was all about them~ but mixed tapes (predecessors to the playlist) have power. Mixed tapes tell a story. The playlist I picked yesterday was from the few on my rarely listened-to iPod. It was simply titled May. May when? Last year? Two years ago? I do this a lot with my playlists–name them after the month in which they were created.
14. “Tender” — Blur
Before I started blogging, you could say that making mixed tapes and playlists was my chosen form of writing. Writing via song choice and order, based upon my mood for the time period.
I’ve got loads of burned cds from the past ten years. Many playlists saved on my iTunes library. And nearly all of the mixed tapes from the ’90s, of which there are a lot!
Much like Shakespeare’s play within a play, mixed tapes have stories within stories. The list itself tells a story about where I was, what I was thinking about at the time I created it. Each song has its own history embedded within it. Then, of course, there are the stories that the songs tell themselves.
Looking at May, I think I was in a rather lovey-dovey mood. I think I was also very nostalgic. Every song placed on this playlist has some back story associated with it, and I can remember a certain key moment with each.
For example, “Reap the Wild Wind” reminds me of being 18, driving home from the city with my best friend Julia, back to the ‘burbs, after our first night on the town as legal adults. I had snagged one of my Dad’s compilation cds, and this song was on it. The sun was rising, and we raced down the empty freeway in her Ford Escort. The song encapsulated our youthful energy and excitement at exploring the world as women–free from curfew, free from the stifling microcosm that is high school. I still feel that excitement when I hear this song.
Meanwhile, another road song is “Milk”. I had just bought the new album by The Kings of Leon, had never listened to it, and brought it along for an all-night haul to Sacramento from San Diego. I was bringing Jesse, my new boyfriend, home to meet my parents for the first time. The moon was full and shining over the hills bordering the 5 freeway, somewhere around Fresno. “Milk” came on, and the moment was perfect.
Listening to my old playlists is like flipping through a photo album. Moments locked away for all time in song.
Listening to May didn’t exactly give me a bunch of blogging ideas, but it did make me think about stories. My stories. Which, while this is a blog mainly about books, it’s also about me, and my stories–the stories created while reading others’ stories and the stories created while living my life. So, in that sense, it was a pure spring.
I did, however, get an idea for a character sketch of Denna (a character from Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear) as well as inspiration for posts on the literary qualities of certain songs.
So, I’m not sure if my well is completely filled, but I’m glad I rediscovered these songs, these moments, these stories.