I do quite a bit of writing. The truth about writing to which most authors will readily admit is it is often a laborious chore. Sure, there are times in which a rich wave of inspiration hits, and the words freely flow out of your fingertips on to the keyboard and are then made real on the screen, but that is rare. Instead, I sit down at the same time each day, usually in the same spot, although I do mix it up when I can and sit in a coffee shop or restaurant, and I look at a blank screen. This scenario is just the beginning. This is where the work begins. Inspired or not, I will start to type.
One thing that I do which supports me in my writing is to combine my love of music with my writing time. Some writers need complete silence. I do not. Music is a catalyst for my emotions. Music brings up memories. Music makes me happy. Ever since I heard Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin back in high school, I knew music would be a part of my life. Make no mistake, I am not a musician. I can’t sing, and don’t play an instrument. But let me listen to 28 minutes of Dazed and Confused and nine times out of ten I will have tears in my eyes during the guitar solos. Music touches my soul.
Over the past year, I have been creating a playlist in ITunes entitled “AA – Writing Music.” First thing I did was add a few artists that I knew belonged on the list: Van Morrison. Miles Davis, Radiohead, Bob (Marley and Dylan), Leonard Cohen and of course, Keith Jarrett. I had seen Keith Jarrett in concert several times in my twenties. He is such a unique performer, improvising the entire concert. He needed absolute silence or else he would either yell at the protagonist, or refuse to perform until it was silent. In addition to his virtuoso piano playing, he would also vocalize a bit, working with everything he had to get the most out of himself and his instrument. I remember feeling grateful to experience such brave and marvelous performances.
Now, decades later, as I look at the blank screen, I often think of Keith Jarrett in front of thousands, with a blank canvas in front of him, creating something from nothing. When I hear his Koln Concert performance in my earphones, I am inspired. What one man can do, another can do. Now as I write, I hear the music of some of my all time greats playing and some new artists too. The list continues to evolve. I recently added an Irish musician Hozier and a CD by Annie Lennox. Writing has become less of a chore, for it is now also an opportunity to do something I love which is to listen to music. As I write this, a live version of John Coltrane’s Naima is playing. I am off into my own little world with all my writing and musician buddies. How amazing this life is!