Senses working overtime

There’s an XTC song I’ve always liked called “Senses Working Overtime.” I found myself humming it the other day when walking in the park. Probably because the scent of something flowering was strong and heady, almost disturbing, and the sky was so bright it hurt to look up, and sounds of children and dogs and people’s radios filled the air. (Yes, some people still play their music on boom boxes or radios.)

And it hit me that day that I really don’t listen to music anymore. Certainly not like I used to – my teens are filled with memories of mix tapes and hoping for a Walkman and holing up in my room to sing to myself. Not to mention sneaking around to become a DJ at the local college station despite only being in high school. College was filled with music, too – mine and everyone else’s. But somewhere along the line, I stopped listening.

I can’t escape being bombarded with the flavor of the month pop hit, and I still get creeped out when I’m in a store and find myself humming along to the Muzak version of REM or the Cure. (Why it’s not so bad when it’s the Beatles or Fleetwood Mac, I dunno.) But even when I find songs or artists I like and I mean to download them – and sometimes even do it, adding them to a playlist – the music just sort of sits there.

Plenty of kid lit authors write to music; some even cite full playlists in their acknowledgements. So what happened to me?

Perhaps it’s because I need a blank slate to create. When I’m writing, I’m imagining not just what my characters see, but that they hear, smell, touch, and even taste. (Yes, I Β know – everyone does that. And yes, it’s likely just as vivid for them.) So in a way, to add music as a backdrop would overload my senses. I do miss the sounds of kids in the playground since we moved. Kind of a cute reminder of why I’m writing.

Or perhaps just because playing music is no longer just as easy as snapping on a radio? Pandora‘s lovely, but my computer or the TV has to be on. And they have screens – which annoy me. Not a fan of screens. Unless I’m working on one.

What about you? Do you have a soundtrack for every book? Or is it the soundtrack of life?


6 thoughts on “Senses working overtime

  1. Great post. I like to write to music, but my favorite are film scores. They’re instrumental, but not slow, which might put me to sleep. I often have a song in my head and that distracts my writing so the quiet music in the background drowns out the noise my brain produces. And the scores allow me to tune them out when I’m on a writing roll.

  2. Ah, I too have listened to film scores while writing, especially the ones that help me stay in a place like the setting, etc. of what I’m writing. Of course, it’s been years since I’ve done that (Sorcerer’s Stone score at the time).

    I do know I can’t have anything with lyrics because it’s distracting. What I did discover, having frequented (lived in) Barnes for so many years was that I liked the random noises of the cafe and surroundings. Sometimes it could be distracting, but if I was focused, it stayed in the background as what I call “back fill” and, until I came to know too many people there, it was a nice backdrop for writing. Many times I’d said I’d love to record the sounds to play at home. Well, guess what? Someone did it!

    Leslie, I completely understand not wanting to have the computer on when you’re writing if you’re doing it on paper, but if you can keep the screen/computer out of your immediate area, there are two sites I became aware of through writer chats, and am grateful for them.

    If I don’t want silence, these two are great in the background:

    and especially (LOVE this):

    And since there’s no right or wrong way to set the stage for writing productivity, no one says you have to listen to music πŸ™‚ Or anything πŸ˜€

    P.S. Most of the music I listen to is older ’cause at one point the majority of newer music didn’t appeal to me, so you’re not alone, Leslie. I typically listen to music in the car or when exercising. That’s about it!

    1. I did a post on Coffitivity a while back. πŸ˜‰

      It didn’t work for me, but many folks I know love it. I used to listen to music constantly. (Did you know 90’s angry girl music is excellent as a soundtrack to clean bathrooms?)

      But now it’s nada. I might have to invest in one of those radios you plug your phone into….

      1. lol…with my brain, there’s no way I’d remember you posted it, though I’m sure I read it! lol

        Never heard of radios you can plug into your phone! But I have heard of a bluetooth speaker. I don’t have a bluetooth, but saw this at Barnes in the glittery shape of Minnie Mouse ears πŸ˜€

        Are you going to the conference?

  3. Right now I have a song bouncing around my head, so maybe I need to put some music on quietly to neutralize the effect of the uninvited rhythm in my head.
    Just because we have fancy music options now doesn’t mean you can’t just have a good old fashioned boom box or *gasp* tape deck in your writing nook. I mean, you know you still have at least one mix tape around.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s