Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Soundtrack of Writing

Well, Summer is here, which means I'm writing. I'm spinning a lot of plates thanks to a unique opportunity afforded to me by my employer. I am a teacher consultant at the Seven Valleys Writing Program's Summer Institute at SUNY Cortland in Cortland, NY. (For the visual learners, picture the Carrier Dome, turn south, drive for about 45 minutes and you are in Cortland.) The 7VWP is part of the National Writing Project and I am now a member of the family. (It's like the Mafia, without the RICO laws.) This program has me spinning dozens of metaphorical plates in my writing world. Part of the program is a very sizable chunk of writing time each day to work on any number of projects, which I have gleefully done. It's been amazing and I can feel my batteries recharging about not only my writing but school.

About my writing, I was chugging along at the contemporary YA, THE SEVEN LABORS, and making good time on it actually breaking past what I imagined the half way point to be when I shipped it off to a beta to just sort of skim and tell me what they thought of what I was doing with something that was making me uncomfortable. Well, I was okay, but said beta made me realize that this was a good place to stop and do a rewrite of the first half. I had some ideas for the second half that would completely botch the first half, so for continuity's sake, I stopped and boxed it for a few weeks. I'm not quitting, I'm just putting it aside to let it marinate.

I've got a new idea that I'm working on that has me excited. I'm not sure what it is yet...a novella, a MG book or a chapter book. I'm hazy on the title so don't ask, but I can describe it best as being "a more malicious version of E.T but from the ocean." I can't go further into it because, as I said, I'm still not sure what it is.

But this blog post is about soundtrack because music has been driving a lot of the writing I've been doing. This writing institute has been a breeding ground for my writing since I'm spending a lot of time looking back to my youth and in trying to capture that by choosing music to get me into that thought process. Since I was looking back I had decided that my story was going to be set in Queens, NY in the late 80s. My soundtrack? Billy Joel, focusing on the live album recorded at Shea Stadium with some other songs thrown in there, all by Billy Joel. It's fueled my writing, which really is what music should be doing when you are writing. It can't get in the way and it can't necessarily completely drive the writing, but it has to provide the energy for writing.

I'd love to finish this up by the end of July. Like I said, it's not going to be one of my epics (more on that in a sec), but we'll see what I can wedge in. Hopefully, I'll have a title.

I've got to be honest though, I kind of missing writing one of my big, epic pieces. I'm going to return to SISTERS OF KHODA soon because I think I have a solution to my problems with that book and how to fix it. (More epic.)

So back to the writing.

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