Writing and it’s Relationship with Music

As a writer, should your primary source of influence always be from other examples of writing?

As an artist you should be able to admit, that music is amazing. It is a lot more self-contained than creative writing (poetry aside) and obviously film. The best thing about music is that it is a representation of emotion, even those dance songs you play on Saturday night. Personally, as someone trying to expand as a writer, I find myself skipping these Top 40 favorites and engaging significantly with classical music performances, movie soundtracks and acoustic soul-sapping encores. It is this music which I find inspires me, more so, in some cases than my favorite pieces of writing; this is an interesting thought, for if you want to write, you have to read right? Well what happens if you’re a writer who listens?

Needless to say, I’m listening to a medley of fantastic songs when writing this, bopping along at times or just pausing, mulling things over in my mind. My connection to music is probably as far from an ‘objective’ relationship as you can get. I care little for the persuit of new talent, I am literally of the disposition that if I hear something I connect with, I will buy it and listen to it endlessly. I mean, I have my fair share of rubbish on my iTunes, but when a song comes up that really makes you stop, that’s when I feel at my most imbalanced, stimulated and ready to write.

Of course, the problem with this approach is that it is incredibly subjective, not only in form but of course in content. Lyrics, melody and the countless other spectrum’s of musical refinement create such a variety of musical output that everyone is going to react a bit differently and in a lot of cases not at all. For instance, a lot of people I know will write with music playing in the background, I mean, I’m doing that right now, but it’s quiet and more or less lyric-less, this helps create an ambiance, a comfortable writing environment and yet this is still my limit. In truth I find music a distraction to objective writing, but the mood it envokes cloaks me thoroughly for a period of writing. It is this resonance that I feel when listening to music that I feel strengthens me as a writer.

I mean, is this a writing technique we should attempt to coin? Cinematic writing perhaps? Of course not, because if you want to convey something specific in tandem with music (and a stark visual image?) you might as well be a screen-write, right? Wrong. Personally whilst a huge fan of cinema, my connection to it is very similar to music, I don’t go to the cinema all the time but when I see something I enjoy, I will exhaust it until I feel I fully understand it and to some extent, can replicate it. Clearly then, I am someone who is forever buried in books right? Wrong again, because this article isn’t about defining myself as a writer, but defining writing as a process that is subjective to the individual. If I told you I loved watching films more than reading books and I wanted to be a writer, you’d scoff; at least I’d hope you would because I mean come on, that’s just stupid. However, if you can balance these mediums of storytelling (yes, music is a form of storytelling) maybe then you can create something original, maybe not.

Your primary influence in your language of writing will be your literary background, that I feel is somewhat unavoidable; however your writing style and written image can be highly influenced by the content you experience; which is where I draw my most significant distinction in this article. Because cinema and music are ‘experienced’, they help create mood, writing helps more to focus the skill of writing and paint this mood for others to understand. Maybe I’m wrong and I just haven’t read the right stuff, but I think if you want to create a detailed creative fiction, don’t just read books, do it all.

At the moment I am experimenting with non-linear narratives, stories that don’t always go in sequence (Like: 1, 2, 3) because I’m experimenting with form and I feel that by creating imbalance in the narrative timeline, you can create better enigmas and you, as the reader have to work harder to deconstruct the narrative. I read somewhere that the harder you work to understand something, the more you respect it, if I find out where that’s from I will credit it at the bottom of the article.

As for now, I feel I didn’t do too badly channeling my thoughts for a bit. Maybe I’m just one of these new-wave pretentious wannabe-different writers; I hope to god I’m not… but I’ve been wrong before. As for now I’m going to break away from my own introspective narrative and relax, because to drown in self-awareness would be a sorry way to go :)

If you liked this article please leave a comment below, thank you.

Pancakes and Apples: Diary of a Boy at Sea

Click here to read to read the comic

Hey Guys,

I wanted to let you know about a small project I’ve just finished called ‘Pancakes and Apples’. It’s a short web comic that I made because I have been reading a few lately and really wanted to give it a go. It’s a fairly serious story but I don’t want it to be perceived as something overly pessimistic (see the Story Synopsis). Instead I want this tale to be perceived optimistically; I do not want to give away the whole story, but I will just say this. The story ends on a deliberate note, and who knows how it could continue to play out.

Story Synopsis:

(Ideally read this after you’ve read the comic.)

P & A is set in a post-apocalyptic future, the world has broken down into ruin from some unspecified conflict; with the broken world behind him we see a boy sailing out to sea. He is sailing from what he believes to be the northern hemisphere of the planet, to the south. This is because in this reality the world is flat and it is only in rumors, that people have heard of a round planet earth.

All the dialog is a blend of diary entries and a stream of consciousness that blend in format to become more comprehensible for the reader. Though only a child, the dialog is imbalanced between his more immediate, immature thoughts and what he has been told by the man he bought his boat from. By merging a variety of attitudes, values and beliefs we are able to understand in more detail the world of the narrative, as it is parallel to our own.

Before the end of the comic the boy realises that the world is not as he had hoped, that perhaps he was duped? He was not cheated but shown a path that led him to ultimate enlightenment; that in a dying world the only path forward is that which transcends reality. So, in closing his eyes he accepts his destiny and sails forward, with a belief of something better in his heart.

Post-Reading Thoughts:

The story though short, is designed to suit it’s medium. There’s no point making a web comic if it’d turn out better as a book. I felt this medium was more suitable as we see the face and identify with the boy and the silence in some frames, echoes the silence he experiences when sailing.

I wanted the idea of a round world to appeal to a boy who only knew of a world full of limits, the man he perceives to be wise is not tricking him, he is just giving him one last hoorah, a present of optimism.

Ultimately we see the boy poised to sail off the edge of the world, eyes closed, ready to believe that anything could happen. And why not? A child who has faith only in what he most desires most is not misguided, he is at peace. The story is coloured bleakly to contrast the colour in the last frame (also hinted at with colour permeating some earlier frames).

This is not a sad story. This is an exercise in form, and story about how we are defined by faith.

Please let me know what you thought of the story either in the comment box on here, or ideally liking, tweeting and sharing the story with your friends.