- ABOUT US
Karlie Tipton, Editorial Assistant
Photo by JOHN JERNIGAN
By Karlie Tipton
January 10, 2013
“Sometimes, being a writer feels like getting paid to pull a rabbit out of a hat over and over again—but each time it has to be a new breed of rabbit, ‘miraculously’ emerging from a different style of hat.”
Naturally, I would start a blog about writing with a quote that I didn’t write.
But that’s just part of the process, the whole “inspiration and perspiration” business.
As creators of the written word, we tend to blame the former for all of our woes. “It was writer’s block,” one might say, “that caused the story to be late, not the fact that I procrastinated as long as humanly possible.”
Whatever excuses we may make, that rabbit has to come out of the hat eventually. So, the question becomes, where do I get some carrots?
Aside from copious amounts of caffeine, I can think of only one true muse that I’ve come to rely on: music.
Since the beginning of neurological studies, scientists have reasoned that music and language are handled by separate hemispheres of the brain.
However, a recently published paper by the Frontiers in Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience journal shows that the link between musical awareness and speech functions has a stronger correlation than previously believed. The article goes so far as to suggest that when one is improved, so goes the other.
Having spent little time in college—or life in general—understanding the various cerebral processes, I can only confirm that my ability to put a sentence together is greatly improved by the accompaniment of musical genius.
Some of my best mentors include:
Classical composers like Chopin, Mozart, and Liszt. I find that this music in particular allows ideas to gently coalesce in my head without being jumbled by concrete images. The emotions are just vague enough to lead my brain to water, but not strong enough to force it to drink anything it doesn’t want to. Except for Beethoven. I can’t handle Beethoven.
Gregorian chant. Although I would never describe myself as religious, there is something hauntingly beautiful about these arrangements that I hope lend themselves, at least in some small way, to my writing. Needless to say, that’s not what I’m listening to while writing this particular blog.
Film scores. Hans Zimmer, Leonard Bernstein, Danny Elfman, Howard Shore… movie music offers a shortcut to any particular emotion you’re looking for—from urgency to sadness to triumph—all feelings closely associated with my personal writing process.
Again, Silberman writes: “Days under the spotlight that I reach into the fraying dark with sweaty fingers, and feel warm fur, are good days. Other days, it’s nothing but hat in there; but I say ‘Voilà!’ with a practiced flourish anyway and hope the audience doesn’t notice that the alleged rabbit is just a tattered old stuffed thing, a patchwork made to twitch by sleight-of-hand.”
My rabbits might not always be the smartest or my hats the most elegant, but here’s to keeping the magic going, one song at a time.