10 January 2008

Music to Write Novels By (Well, Kind of)

I like my Outreach activities because of the long drive to other parts of the state. It gives me time to ponder writing, either problem stories and resolutions, plot twists for the UFN (Unfinished Fantasy Novel), or a place to recite poem lines out loud, with revisions, and not have anyone call the men in the white coats. Being the spiffy ADD multitasker I am, I also had my iPod playing. Normally I listen to podcasts or audiobooks, but sometimes, like today, I flip it to shuffle. The juxtaposition of some of the music I get can be startling, enlightening, or annoying, depending on the whim of the Shuffle Gods.

Last time I checked I only had 2000 songs on my iPod. A drop in the auditory bucket compared to many people. Genres run the gamut from Alternative to World, with heaping helpings of Folk and Soundtracks, which is what usually accompanies me when I write. I know I've mentioned before I have "Music to Write Battle Scenes By", "Instrumentals for Social Commentary Poems", and "Tunes for Tormenting Protagonists".

So I was driving across the upper right hand corner of nowhere, hoping the turkeys stayed in the median, the mule deer on the side of the road, and the eagle in the sky above me, thinking about the UFN, which is really the AFFN (Almost Finished Fantasy Novel). I retraced plots in my mind, found a few loose ends, and was meditating on overall themes when a song came on the iPod, and the Muse of The Totally Obvious reached through the speakers and slapped me upside the head. (Hey, at least it wasn't a wild turkey running into the side of the car. I hate when that happens.)

Muse of TTO: "Listen up. You're whining about theme? I got your theme right here." WHAP

There it was, the song that summed up the AFFN. "One of Us" by Joan Osborne. (YouTube Video)

I listened. I thought about it. I grudgingly admitted the song was perfect in its own way for the AFFN, and put up with the boozy glow of self-satisfaction emanating from the Muse of TTO.

Muse of TTO: "Told you so. Now you try it. Just for a few minutes, I'll allow you to think on the Half-Finished Fantasy Novel (HFN) and those characters. Then I'll give you a hint in the next ten songs."

Me: "How are you controlling my iPod? You and your brother, the Luddite Muse, swore you didn't know anything about 'high-flutin' machinery gobbledegook', which is why I had to write fantasy if I wanted your help."

Muse of TTO: *mumbling* "I took a class, okay? Now shut up and listen."

By the time I slowed to read the minds of a herd of mule deer thinking – not very hard- of crossing the road, played pass the gravel truck and trailer to avoid a chipped windshield, and caught a regulation sized tumbleweed with my front bumper, the songs changed several times, and there it was. The song that summed up the HFN. "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" by Neil Diamond. (YouTube Video)

"You got to be kidding me," I said aloud.

Muse of TTO: WHAP. "I never kid."

"Horsehockey," I replied, "you always kid, which is why I can never tell when you're actually serious about something. Matter of fact, most of your ideas border on Writer Abuse. Waiting until I'm knee deep in a book then barrage me with interesting ideas for others."

Muse of TTO: "Yeah, that was rather amusing. Gabriele's Muse bet me your head would eventually explode. I figured you would forget 2/3rds of the ideas I gave you before you wrote them down. You're lucky the Short Story Muse swooped in and coerced a few of the ideas to her realm."

The iPod shuffles to a new tune. "Why can't I have a Pink Floyd song for a theme?" I whine.

Muse of TTO: WHAP. "Because. 'You Can't Always Get What You Want.'"

A plethora of gnome-like giggles comes from the back seat as I stifle a groan. "Fine." I crank the volume. "What about the MishMashed SciFi Novel?" (MSN)

Muse of TTO: "Since you are so all over the map with that one, I'll give you TWO songs to think about."

For a moment I thought the first would be "Donald Where's Your Troosers?" (YouTube Video) but it didn't really fit the MSN, and the TTO Muse wouldn't be that cruel. Would he? Nope, just a scare.

So I was left with The Patriot Game, (YouTube Video) by any self respecting Irish band, and Still Waiting by Sum41. (YouTube Video)

"You've got to be… uh, the best Muse of any struggling writer," I amend hastily.

Muse of TTO: "Damn straight. Now, if you don't mind, I've got a poker game to get to. Last time, we bankrupted Scott Oden's Finishing Muse and left him drunk, naked, and bunked on a submarine headed to Oslo, Norway.* Most fun I've had in years. Vi sees." With a dimension ripping, radio static POP, I'm alone again. I drive, and return to novel ruminations.

As I pass by the gate to a local ranch, there on top of a mailbox post, with a red balloon tied to his pipe hand, is a garden gnome. I barely had time to register the pointy hat and beard before my car flashed past. Was this the site of the elusive Muse-Gnome poker party? Or was it just the usual garden variety rural humor?

I didn't have to ponder too hard on that one. The song playing on the iPod as I barreled by the Ranch Gnome? "Wish You Were Here", by Pink Floyd. (YouTube Video)

Writers, if any of your Muses come up missing in the next few days, I think I know where they are…


*I am no way implying Scott is drunk, naked, and on a submarine off the coast of Norway. I think the Muse was implying it was Scott's Finishing Muse, but it wasn't quite clear over the raucous Gnome giggles just who the TTO Muse was talking about...

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Me thinks that the Kool Aid you've been handling lately was the infamous "Electric Kool Aid" from the 60's(aka LSD)....and has been absorbed into your system through your skin.

Is seeing and communicating with gnomes and muses the sign of a good trip,or a bad trip???

Carla said...

Your Muses and Gnomes sound like the cast of a fantasy novel all by themselves :-)

Constance said...

Anon, Any trip in Wyoming is a good trip... and for the record, I didn't ask for the gnomes, they just sorta decided to haunt the same section of blogsphere I do. Muses come with the writing territory. (Although some more cooperative ones would have been nice.)

Constance said...

Carla, thing is, they aren't all mine. You'd think I had a free beer sign at my place, because other people's problem children keep dropping by...

And if I were casting an inspirational muse... he'd at least know how to spell! :)

Anonymous said...

Or maybe it was the Wyoming Wildwood Weed.........

Scott Oden said...

I was wondering where my Muse got off to. Hey, at my recent Big Time Author Photo Shoot, the photographer was able to capture visual evidence that I am indeed bedeviled by gnomes. Watch my blog . . . I'll be posting it soon.

Oh, and my Muse is a she. Which means if she's drunk, naked, and on a submarine off the coast of Norway that she's also the Muse of Really Good Porn. Pfffttt . . . I need a new muse . . .

Constance said...

Anon, as Chief Annoyance and Fungi grower, you would know all about things like that...

Where's my music?!

Constance said...

Scott- Bright side, maybe it isn't your muse off the coast of Norway, but someone else's hapless Finishing Muse. Therefore, Finish LOC!
Dark side: The same. :)

Author Photos, cool! Do we get to vote on poses? You know, A) Rabid Intellectual Smoking Peace Pipe, B) Intellectual Genius with Crossed Arms, C) Nerd with Gnome Glasses and D&D "Orb of Confuzzlement" in hand, D) ETC...

Anonymous said...

I just got the thing today.
If you want it back yesterday,send a gnome.

Gabriele C. said...

My muse did no such thing. He's passed out again, sleeping off his ape in the corner, and tomorrow he'll be complaining about having a tom cat and a headache, and in either case, he won't be of any use.

Constance said...

Be careful what you wish for. Invited gnomes tend to put their feet up, drink your beer, and reboot your computer at random intervals.

Oh, wait, that last one is Windoze...

Constance said...

Gabriele, My own Muse often tries to make my head explode, I doubt he'd want to share the fun with yours, but you never know. I thought your Muse only drank whiskey?? Who plied him with ale?

Gabriele C. said...

Lol, ape not ale, it wasn't a typo. To have an ape (einen Affen haben) is a German expression for being drunk.

Constance said...

*g* I thought it was a typo, and the Spelling Gnomes struck! My knowledge of German is pretty much limited to asking for food, beer, and the train station. :)

Gabriele C. said...

Right now the only gnome sitting here is the I Can't Write a Short Story gnome, and no matter how much whisky I pour into that little bugger, he refuses to join the muse in the corner.

Constance said...

Infinity Swords? Cause that gnome's been at my house too, in that case. And he not only has a wooden leg, but he can drink an Irishman under the table. :(

I got 846 words. Maybe together we have a short story. *g*

Gabriele C. said...

Yes, that's the one.

I got 963 words so far.

Constance said...

Hey, we got four days. *g* no sweat.

Gabriele C. said...

Considering the fact I'm working on this sucker since Christmas, I don't think four days will make much of a difference.

Constance said...

Repeat after me: "But I work so much better under pressure".

I never really had a good idea for that theme anyhow. *g* I will probably abandon it and finish a different short story - With 63% more death. More filling, tastes great!

Gabriele C. said...

My brain just doesn't wrap itself around short stories, it seems, and since I decided for a Kormac Halvdanson one, it keeps slipping into the novel and grow tentacles that connect it with the main plot.

Constance said...

AHHH! Plot leech! *Backs away* Careful, they're contagious!

I do have a half finished Angel of Death short story if you need containment...

Scott Oden said...

I wanted to be photographed in some sort of trademark article of clothing (kind of like Neil Gaiman's leather jacket and wild hair); my original plan was for a leather frock coat and a fez. That got deep-sixed. Next, I hoped for a smoking jacket and a fez. X-nay. "What do you have against fezzes?" I said to my photographer, who is also my neice (she's a professional photog from NY, down for the holidays).

"Nothing," she said, "if you're a Shriner."

So, she snapped 300 or so pics in a couple of locations. The winner is one of me looking like a smug writerly bastard standing in front of an old tree in Big Spring Park, Huntsville AL.

I have to do a short story soon, too. I'm not genetically wired for short stories. I tend to ramble . . .

Constance said...

"I'll take 'writerly bastard' for $500, Alex." It does have a ring to it. *g* Can't wait to see that. You could start an author photo trend, Scott.

Short-short stories are what do me in. I can constrain myself enough for 5000 words, but 2000? That's cruel and unusual punishment- although I've been told The Declaration of Independence is only 1300 words, and the Gettysburg Address was only 186.

But I don't think their audiences were as fickle...

STAG said...

Remarkable.

So thats where the pointy hatted little bugger got to.

Constance said...

STAG- are you the owner of that gnome? Any of the gnomes? If so, please take them away. They are impeding progress. Of course, that's their job...