Saturday, April 07, 2007

White Noise and the Sound of Key Clicks

Much of my spare change gets spent on books and CD's (even if I don't have that much change to spare). Recently acquired CD's include the new Yeah Yeah Yeah's album, the new Modest Mouse, Tom Waits's "Orphans" triple album, and Kristen Hersh's new album. I guess I'm looking for a spark. Something that'll permit me to park my ass in front of my monitor and endure a full dosage of my own personality. Sometimes I can't stand my mind.

When I wrote "Furious Lullaby" I listened almost exclusively to instrumental music. And I'm not talking about the usual Jazz or Classical selections. I listened to weird things, collections of noises, unconventional instrumental groups. I listened to stuff from The Rachel's, The Dirty Three, Japancake, and Godspeed You Black Emperor. I couldn't listen to music that had discernible lyrics because they somehow end up in what I was writing at the moment. Melody, however, I'd allow into my writing, even if it's a borrowed melody from a musical piece. But it's not like I'm conscious of the melody when it comes as I'm writing. It's just there. It's background. It's something that allows me to keep moving.

Coffeehouses were great for some of my earlier stuff. Thinking back on it, I think the coffeehouse setting was useful because my first book was populated. There were actual people in the collection. It was a work that was about people. The second book . . . very few people. Mostly the speaker and "you." Which makes sense as I sit here, trying to figure out how to move on to the next project.

Ah yes, the next project. I know what it is and what it's becoming. That may be part of the problem. When intent overwhelms the creative process, can there be no room for spontaneity? Say I want to go in one direction with a piece, will my intent forbid me from taking alternate routes?

All this leads me back to music. I suppose listening to music allows me the possibility of a change in direction. At this juncture in the project, I don't have a great deal of perspective. I'm 20 something poems into it. And the poems are all clearly part of the same "orchestral sequence," but I'm unsure of the transitions between pieces. Maybe a tune will present the bridges between pieces. Maybe I should stop thinking about my process and start writing . . .

Currently, Tom Waits is howling. Tom Waits, are you my angel?

2 comments:

C. Dale said...

I always find writers thinking about process fascinating. I know what you mean though about intent. I know that when I have intent for a grouping of poems, it limits me. It is why I made the conscious effort years and years ago to just write poems, not books. I make books after the fact. This is why many of the poems I have written and published are not collected in my books. But process is variable, thinking variable, approach variable. Cool to ruminate with you.

jenni said...

I never listen to music when I'm writing--has to be completely silent. Interesting though how strongy of an effect what you listen to has on your writing. I don't write with a series in mind either, but I tend to write about the same types of subjects over and over again regardless. My favorite poems to write are the ones that seem to come out almost effortlessly. But that's only happened like 4 times. lol.