For years, I’ve put together mix tapes for myself and other people. I’ve since moved on to mix CDs, of course, but the intent is the same. Some of my most prized mixes were assembled with one purpose in mind: to keep me running. Although my iPod made my entire collection obsolete, I still have all the tapes, sitting gathering dust behind my office door at home, with inside-joke names too embarrassing to cite here. The jokes were so inside, in fact, that only I would get them. How’s that for warped? I became so accustomed to the running order of these tapes that to this day, I can’t hear “The Ballad of John and Yoko” without expecting to hear Men at Work’s “Underground” hot on its heels.
They did the trick, these tapes. Maybe it’s why I’m much more dedicated about my running than I am about my writing. 4-5 days a week, 4 miles at a time, with very few exceptions. I run as much for the mental benefits as the physical ones. I write headlines for work (I’m in advertising), I sort out domestic issues, I make plans for the weekend, I even work out problems with the novel…all in my head. Of course, there’s nowhere to write it down, and by the time I finish my run, the adrenalin begins to taper off and the enthusiasm cools considerably.
If there were the equivalent of a mix tape to inspire writing, I’d make one in nothing flat. Unfortunately, if I’m truly in a writing frame of mind, I can’t listen to music, or at least not music with lyrics. When I was writing my last novel, which involved several scenes set in Greece, I listened to some Greek music to gear me up before/during writing (though it had lyrics, I couldn’t understand them, so they weren’t terribly distracting). So…is there such a thing? Did Jackie Gleason or 101 Strings put an LP out that I’m not aware of: “Music to Write Contemporary Novels By?” Any suggestions? Did our great writers of the past listen to anything to get them going, besides their elusive muses and the siren’s song of the bottle?
As you can tell, I’m writing this as a way of not writing the actual book. But I have a new deadline looming, so the real writing will commence shortly.