I’ve been on a search for new music lately because I listen to music when I write. I can’t write in silence but I’m picky about what I can write to. I also like to put single mood-setting tracks on repeat. (I probably should have kept a tally of how many times I listened to Iron & Wine’s “The Trapeze Swinger” while I was working on the circus.) (There is, for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, a circus playlist over here.)
And writing music is an interesting balance, at least for me, because it can’t be distracting but it can’t be so mellow that it makes me sleepy, either.
My writing rotation changes a lot, I’ve been making playlists that are mostly jazz (Coltrane, Ellington, some Charlie Parker) and some other bits and pieces that I keep adding to whenever something reminds me of how I think the new book should feel.
I just got the soundtrack to The Great Gatsby and while I predictably adore the Florence + the Machine song the one that’s getting the constant repeat treatment is the Gotye track, “Hearts a Mess,” even though it bothers me that the title apparently does not have an apostrophe. I might put it on the writing playlist, haven’t decided yet.
But my favorite recent musical discovery is something different.
This is a band called Houses, their new album is called A Quiet Darkness.
I literally clicked on this album in iTunes because I liked the cover. I’d never heard of them, had no idea what kind of music it would be, just found the cover art aesthetically pleasing.
Most fortuitous iTunes click ever.
Only had to preview a handful of tracks before buying the album, only listened to the album once before also buying their previous album. I can’t even describe them properly, the sound is so lovely and ethereal and layered and it is perfection as writing music.
I tweeted about them and they tweeted back because Twitter is MAGIC and as a result of said magic I now have that beautiful album in LP form with nicely giant cover art, hurrah:
Highly recommended if you are looking for new music, and you never know what you might create while listening to it.
I have been meaning to post this for ages, but here is a link to the beautiful music Aby Wolf did for my Talking Volumes event in Minnesota:
Isn’t it pretty? I am delighted beyond measure that the circus is inspiring such loveliness.
This post started as a random collection of things I’ve been listening to & watching lately but then it started wandering into thinky thoughts about input mode versus output mode which is something I think I’ve blogged about before, and I am still very much in input mode right now. So here’s a bit about the stuff I’ve been absorbing.
I have seen more movies this month than I did total in the previous year or so and I will tell you about them! Briefly.
First there was Cloud Atlas which I saw almost immediately after finishing the book so I was likely better prepared than most and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. (I enjoyed the book, too, though not quite as much as I’d wanted to. Partially because I liked the middle bits more than the outside bits.) It’s pretty and I liked the choices made with the story structuring. Also the china shop dream sequence bit was worth the price of admission it made me so happy. That said, I worry it would make absolutely no sense to anyone who didn’t read the book. And I’m looking forward to watching it again on dvd because I’m almost more interested in hearing people talk about it via commentary than the actual watching part.
This past weekend I saw Life of Pi which I read ages ago when the book first came out and I thought the film was lovely, the visuals were gorgeous and I was glad they stuck so closely to the narrative of the book, particularly at the end.
In non-book adaptation movies, Skyfall was awesome. I’m not a huge Bond girl but I loved Casino Royale and I really liked this one, too. Particularly the opening credits.
(Now I’m patiently and somewhat skeptically waiting for The Hobbit.)
In other media, I’ve been playing video games. I am not much of a gamer but in the last couple weeks I got vaguely obsessed with Portal & Portal 2 and they made me happy, because they are the thinky sort of puzzles that I love and also the writing is fantastic. Also they gave me an excuse to have cake.
I find sometimes more than movies certain games get my story-brain going more, maybe it’s the decision making part or the unexpected dragons. (I may have a mild Skyrim addiction.)
I’m finally getting better about acknowledging the fact that all this is productive, even though it doesn’t seem like work. I’ve spent a lot of the last year and a half in circus promo mode and it’s hard to crawl back into the writing cave. Well, no, crawling back in the cave is easy, the difficult part is writing and not just curling up with the bats and taking a cave nap. So I need to wander around outside the cave for a bit and see what there is to see, to get my brain re-acclimated to being creative.
And I like finding those things in non-book forms, I find sometimes stories in film or tv or game or theatre or painting or song form spark ideas just as much if not better than reading other books does. They stretch the imagination in different ways.
I think it’s a Julia Cameron Artist’s Way thing about “filling the well.” About taking time to see and enjoy and absorb new stuff to get your creative brain going. That’s mostly what I’m doing at the moment when I’m not stressing about moving and catching up on life and wondering how it is tipping into December already. Absorbing things and drinking tea and letting my brain soak up the good bits. Sooner or later it’ll bubble over and then we’ll tip back into output mode, I’m sure.
Since we started with music we shall close with music, too. Things I’ve been listening to beyond the mentioned-in-Toronto Andrew Bird include the new Bat for Lashes album and the constantly-in-my-head Adele Skyfall theme, but mostly I’m totally late to the party getting into Of Monsters and Men and I cannot stop listening to this album.
I don’t think Thank You is enough for all the wonderful bookstores and booksellers, for all the readers (whether they’d read The Night Circus yet or not) who came to events and for everyone who organized so many festivals and signings and interviews and flights, but Thank You.
I am slowly re-acclimating to my normal time zone, which has involved sleeping a lot. I am also trying to catch up on things around here that have been neglected during the tour, like cleaning and unpacking things that somehow never managed to get unpacked over the summer.
It’s strange to be done, at least with the travelling. I have things to catch up on (if I owe you an email I’ll get to it soon(ish), hopefully) and the to-do list still seems never-ending and despite all that I know I need some rest. I am not used to so many things and people requiring my attention and I am still adjusting. Also, I’d like to be able to write again at some point.
It is an open-windows, reading in the park sort of day which is rare for this late in November. It’s lovely but not helping me regain my concept of time.
On the flight over to Amsterdam one of the in-flight movie options on the individual embedded in the seat in front of you televisions was Midnight in Paris. I had been told by several people that I would love it and they were correct, it is a marvelous magical fairy tale of a film and I loved it more than I have loved any new film in recent memory. And I’m not even much of a Woody Allen fan.
On the flight back to Boston I half-slept with DeVotchKa’s How it Ends on repeat. So I suppose that makes this the song of the end of the book tour:
I was in Boston for all of six hours last night before flying to London today. Now I am in a very cozy hotel room, unsure of what time it is and unable to blog properly but I have my nice camera with me so there should be proper photos eventually and I will tell you of other travels and adventures as well.
For now, though, I give you what is currently and likely will stay the official theme song of the book tour.
Pardon me, but where did August go? Excuse me whilst I cling to this final day, in denial that the morning will bring September in all its autumnal, impending book release glory.
This post is going to be all over the place, be prepared. Proper blogging keeps getting lost in the wilds of the to-do list.
I would have been updating the internet on all manner of happenings were it not for the cumbersome to-do list and also the fact that I had a horrid summer head cold for the last week, so I was hampered by a mucus-y haze. It felt as gross as that sounds. Mostly better now, just slightly sniffly.
I added a tour page to this poor neglected site, I meant to do it ages ago but formatting is hard. It’s still not perfect and it doesn’t have Canadian or UK info but I’ll be adding to it, hopefully in a timely manner.
Last week I spent a delightful evening under tents in a field in Concord, meeting booksellers and flouncing around in a white dress with red feathers in my hair. The lovely ladies of Random House put together a marvelous circusy event and I got to tell the story of why Bailey is from Concord, which is not a story I’ve gotten to tell very much so that was particularly fun. I wish I’d had more time to talk to everyone but I signed a lot of galleys (I ended up with a very nice not-mine pen that I’m pretty sure I was told I can keep, which I hope I’m remembering correctly but it’s always possible that I am just an incorrigible pen thief). I had a splendid time and there will be splendid photos soonish, as Kelly Davidson who did my wonderful author photo was there shooting for the Boston Phoenix and we ran around taking photos in fields with sunflowers and the very heavy crystal ball the tarot reader was kind enough to let us use. (Late in the evening I had my cards read, which was a lovely end to the night.) My sincere thanks to everyone there, from organizers to guests and my darling editor who was my date for the evening, for participating in such a fantastical event.
Now, almost post-head cold, I am in pre-tour mode, trying to get myself organized for the impending whirlwind, looking skeptically at September. I had a lot of things I’d intended to do over the summer that seem to have fallen by the wayside. September seemed far away for a very long time and now it is hard to wrap my head around the fact that The Night Circus comes out in less than two weeks. I waver between terribly excited and extremely apprehensive, so I feel like I am lightly caffeinated at all times, even when I’m not.
I’ve been mostly trying to take care of myself as I think I’m going to need it. I’ve been reading a lot as it tends to calm my brain, escaping into a book. And I have a perfect escape in Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 that I was lucky enough to grab an ARC of when I was in NYC signing thousands of books, it was a much better reward than a wrist massage. I’m about halfway through at the moment, attempting to finish all almost-1000 pages of brilliance before tour so I can take lighter weight reading on planes.
And I have been listening to the new Florence + the Machine song over and over and over. Saw her do this live and delighted that it is just as good now, studio recorded and tipping into autumn as it was under a summer night sky.
So, that is what Erinland sounds like at the moment, tinged with September-eve disbelief.
Told you I had all sorts of things to write about.
Downloaded the new Radiohead, The King of Limbs, on Saturday. Not loving it the same way I loved In Rainbows, but it’s growing on me. It makes for rather good music to leave on and ignore. I mean that as a compliment.
Got the new Adele album, 21, yesterday and I love it like candy. I was already obsessed with “Rolling In the Deep” and the rest of the album is equally marvelous. And it has a cover of The Cure’s “Lovesong” that’s just delicious.
I’m kind of obsessed with the video for “Rolling In the Deep,” too:
It reminds me of the circus in an odd sort of way. Maybe it’s the paper city. Or the broken teacups. Or the room full of powder fog.
I go through music phases, especially when I’m writing.
I listen to the same things over and over and over. And over.
I’m not always sure what will end up being the soundtrack of Revisonland. It varies. I don’t particularly plan, something just moves into my head and refuses to let me listen to anything else while I work.
There is a fluffy coating of snow falling outside my windows, obscuring what’s left of 2009 in powdered sugar white. White primer to paint 2010 over.
Ten years ago tonight I was ringing out 1999 in the dearly departed Grotto nightclub in NoHo. The only bit I clearly remember is asking drag queens about the lyrics to that Whitney Houston song that was all over the place, and they confirmed it was indeed “something about Amistad.” That seems very long ago & far away.
I don’t have the memory or the inclination to do a decade in review. Ten years ago was my senior year of college. Since then I moved around Massachusetts at least five times, got married, got cats, had bad jobs, quit bad jobs, made lots of art, completed a tarot deck and a handful of novel drafts. Somewhere in there I developed a rather poor memory, too.
But here, I’ll look back a bit at 2009 proper, since that’s freshest in the blur that is the ’00s.
A year of literary agent blogs and Absolute Write and query letters and having minor heart attacks every time my phone rang with a 212 call. A year of taking up residence in revisionland and preparing to move back in tomorrow. For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse. Or something.
This year, more than any previous year, made me own the writer half of artist/writer. Even to the point of moving slowly toward writer/artist, which is surprising but nice, all at once.
It was a year of Sleep No More (carrying over into early 2010, seeing it 2x more) which kind of blew open the creative part of my brain. Remember that episode of Six Feet Under where Claire is trying to break her eye open for art school? Sleep No More did that for me.