Thursday, 8 November 2007

Music and Multi-Tasking

To follow on from David's post:

I'm one of those authors who has to write to music. What I can't work out is whether the genre I'm writing in determines what music I listen to, or if the music determines the genre.


I usually have a rough idea of what genre a piece will fit into before I start writing it (although occasionally stories can surprise me), and since I'm usually working on four or five things at once, each one has a different type of paper, different pen, different mind-set, and different type of music. One has to keep track of these things somehow.


For instance, right now I'm writing a new crime novel, a science fiction novel (a joint project with my rat-buddy Neil Ayres), a comic short story and a serious fantasy short story. Here's how that divides up for me:


Crime novel

Green A4 ring-bound exercise pad

Orange fountain pen

Radio One

Serious stuff. I'll have my committed face on.


Science Fiction Novel

Narrow-lined A4 pad with front page ripped off

Silver ball point pen

Classical music, usually Russian composers

Not to be taken seriously: it's about aliens, after all.


Comic short story

Straight on to the computer

No pen necessary

A bit of Jazz, probably Miles Davis

Interestingly, I usually write my comic stuff when I'm feeling a bit low.


Fantasy short story

The small marble-effect book on my bedside table

Bic ballpoint

Radio 4

I have to be tired, but not too tired - it is next to the bed, after all.


So, for me, music is an important part of the separation of projects.


Occasionally, with past projects and in certain sections, one song has stuck and demanded to be played over and over. For instance, for Three Things About Me, Janis Joplin's 'Me and Bobby McGee' was firmly wedged in there, and actually made it into the book. But Light Reading was all about Rimsky Korsakov's Scherezade. Don't ask me why. No idea.


6 comments:

David Isaak said...

Russians for sci-fi? Hunh.

Well, Stravinsky, maybe.

emma darwin said...

Aha! Someone else who suits the music to the job in hand...

Roger Morris said...

"...right now I'm writing a new crime novel, a science fiction novel (a joint project with my rat-buddy Neil Ayres), a comic short story and a serious fantasy short story."

Jeepers, Aliya, talk about multi-tasking! Very impressed.

Aliya Whiteley said...

No, Roger, don't be - all it means is that I have the attention span of a gnat.

Drew said...

I couldn't imagine working to music. I need silence. And I can't listen to music sitting down. I have to walk around.

And four things at once is impressive!

Aliya Whiteley said...

That's funny, Drew - I had you down as a writer who did it to music... and four things is only impressive if any of them is any good!