Music Makes Me [Keep] Control

Since I’m currently working on it, I thought it would be interesting to spend this post analyzing the structure and result of narrative conclusions, particularly whether ending on a cliffhanger or wrapping all storylines led to a more fondly-received story.

But, since I’m, you know, currently working on it, I realized that doing this would just be, for lack of a better word, stupid. No matter what I write, no matter what piece of literature or film I reference, the possibility of spoilers is ever-present. Even it it’s not. Still, I certainly wouldn’t want to give readers any clues or references pertaining to the end of a book that’s at least a year away from publication. Or even the clue of a clue, if you catch my drift.

Seriously, fans can get really, really weird.

Back to my point, instead of talking about endings, today we’re going to talk about music. Say it with me now.


You know, do a little dance, make a little boogie-woogie, get down tonight. That kind of thing.

You may remember a few posts ago that I felt rather unmotivated once I reached a certain point within The Nobodies’ narrative, only to discover my difficulties were to blame solely on a dead battery. Well, I’ve been considering this odd conundrum and weighing it against my last few years’ experience writing and editing, and I’ve come to realize an odd, but altogether obvious, fact: music plays an incredibly important role in my writing process.

Even now, with my iPod lying dead next to me, I’m having difficulty. Though it’s charging and I will have its full power behind my quick editorial run-through of this post, right now I’m finding it harder and harder to concentrate on the words flowing onto the page, to find the specific phrase I wish to convey my thoughts. Honestly, I find it almost impossible to continue with this (relatively short) post.

But the question is why? What is it about Utada Hikaru’s “Simple and Clean” or Nivana’s “Heart Shaped Box” that helps me concentrate so well?

What I believe happens when I flip the power on and hit Shuffle Songs, making sure the headphones are cranked enough to drown out background noise but not enough to eradicate all productive thought, is a new world is created. This may sound hokey and something out of a poorly-conceived science fiction novel, but for me, the music creates a bubble of isolation in which the world as a whole simply vanishes and I can be my true self, the only self that matters, with only my thoughts and the blank screen before me as company.

Sometimes, though, the wrong music plays and I’m pulled out of the story, away from my thoughts, and back into my seat, where I grow extremely conscious of the keys clacking beneath my fingertips.

I believe this also happens when I sit here in silence. Because it’s not silence that surrounds me. It’s noise. Not only the clacking keys, but the breathing, the air vents, the hum of the burning lights, my teeth bashing together in thought, my mug of tea bouncing back against the desk, people talking in the distance, toilets being flushed, birds chirping away, cars screaming down the highway. It’s all there. And it’s all mightily distracting.

I suppose white noise would work just as well in canceling out the sounds of the world and delivering me to my bubble world of creativity, but I’ve listened to supposed white noise before: the sound of the ocean slamming against the rocks, the chirping of crickets, bullfrogs mating in the thick of the woods. And, believe me, there’s nothing comforting about any of the sounds. Nothing that seems capable of pulling me away.

Also, if we use my fan as an example of white noise, it also helps me sleep more soundly. Hardly the effect I want when I sit down to write.

And now the iPod is charged, the playlists set and ready. It’s time for me to slip back into my dimensional daydream and focus once again on crafting my conclusion. And, oh, what an ending it is….