Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Swings and Musical Roundabouts.

After moaning in my previous post about how I had lost it, the muse came back to me the following day. As I say in the title, it is very much a case of 'swings and roundabouts', an expression I love. I had two major breakthroughs this week. The first, although seemingly a minor fact about my protagonist, will actually shape the whole novel and made everything fall into place with a resounding 'click'. It has sent me off on another research tangent, but one which I am thoroughly enjoying, and being resident at a university is certainly helping.

The second breakthrough arrived unexpectedly. I didn't even know I was looking for it. I was walking home from the bus last night listening to the soundtrack of The Piano, music by Michael Nyman. It was one of those gorgeously still and very cold Christchurch evenings, with clear indigo skies lined with pink. I relish that walk. It's only ten minutes, but it is my last chance to be fully inside my head and to mull over what I have been working on during the day, before I arrive home to bright lights and cosy air, the chaos of the child's dinner, bath, bed routine. I always have my iPod on and have lately been listening to music that feeds the mood of the novel. I hadn't listened to The Piano for a long time - perhaps years - and it brought back many a melancholy moment I had drawn out by listening to it. Maybe it is a coincidence that, like The Piano, some of my novel is set in colonial New Zealand, but perhaps Nyman's music so perfectly evokes that time, he had sent me there without my realising it.

The breakthrough was the end of the novel. I had been working with a vague idea of a resolution, but hadn't thought about it too much as I trusted that writing my way towards it would make it clearer. So I was surprised when it arrived unannounced in my head apropos of nothing. And it had quite a kick. I was a bit stunned and when I got home had to fend off the family while I wrote it down. It is one of those endings (I hope), that is surprising (it surprised me, for a start), but utterly inevitable. I hope.

Of course, in this crazy writing playground, the swings and roundabouts could just as easily come back sometime in the future and knock my wee ending out of the park.

13 comments:

Gondal-girl said...

that music is beautiful , nothing like certain music to blast you to where you need to be. Each thing I write has its own soundtrack, last book had one song played so many times ( classical) I know all the notes, but it takes me right into my characters head. Must be a day for break thru's....would you mind emailing me, I wanted to tell you something off the blog-esphere....

Rachael King said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vanda Symon said...

I love those "click" moments - they come at such unlikely times in odd surroundings. They're also a relief, when you can't quite pull all the strings together.

I'm fascinated by the role of music in your writing and life. You seem to have a soundtrack for pivotal moments, I recall a post about music with the birth of your son. I've always loved silence, which is funny considering I play musical instruments. Maybe I should expand my horizons.

Rachael King said...

Oh yes, music is very important to me. It evokes mood and suggests stories, even when there are no words. I plan a blog post proper about the influence of music on my new novel.

I love silence too, but absolute silence is very hard to find! I never write with music playing.

Gondal-girl said...

had a procrastination moment today, so tracked through to your old postings mentioned above re: music and the birth of your baby - really moving stuff ( and slightly terrifying for one contemplating the whole being a mum/being a writer thing) Has it changed the way you write? Process wise?

Rachael King said...

Oh, absolutely. My advice wou'd be: don't try and start a new novel when you're pregnant. Others may disagree (some have said it makes them more creative). The beginning of a novel is a particular sort of time, when you have to give yourslef over to it and put some hard work in. I guess it might have also been because I was publicising TSOB in NZ, and going through editorial changes with my overseas publishers, so finding new creative spark was just beyond me. I gave up in the end.

After my son was born it probably took 10 months for my brain to come back to me enough to have another crack at it.

Again, it's different for everyone. I have a friend who started writing hers when her baby was newborn. Her baby slept a lot and she found she had the time. For myself, when the baby slept I either slept myself or did housework. And I was still at that stage having to editorial and publicity for TSOB, which took up any spare time.

My son is now 19 months old and the difference is that I have my creative mojo back and I have learned to juggle the two. You just find what works for you eventually.

susan pearce said...

Congratulations on finding your ending, Rachael. A 'kick': excellent! I didn't get my ending until about a week before writing the final pages. Maybe next time I'll follow your example re the music.

In any case, don't you find the act of writing pretty much asensual, except for the numb bum, and keyboard under calloused finger-tips? I need to keep filling up with other experiences or my mind begins its mouse-on-wheel routine.

Roger Morris said...

Hi Rachael, I just tried to leave a post and it disappeared (I think!). So I hope I don't end up repeating myself. I like the idea of your breakthrough moment and I am very impressed with the way you trust your writing. I never can. My writing has let me down too many times in the past.

I tend to plan things out as much as I can in advance. Of course, when you start writing the plan often goes out of the window, or has to be drastically revised at least.

Rachael King said...

I plan as much as I can, but I find it hard to sit down and consciously think of something like an ending. That's when I have to try and trust my unconscious mind. And while I can plan what a character is going to be like, it's not until I start writing them that they make themselves known, and often end up completely different from how I first envisaged them.

Gondal-girl said...

Take 2 like Roger, apols if it is a repeat or you chose not to post...?

Thanks for your reply Rachel, often ponder how different writers/ artists balance the work and the baby, they are both demanding. No wonder I am awake at 2am thinking the chapters through, so near the end, must get it all out. Feel compelled to get it done before any procreation if the Gods will it - this one novel baby has been going for 2.5 years now, must finish this July, that is my line in the sand.
Have heard ones brain goes south with pregnancy, I think mine might too. 10 months to get the mojo back sounds pretty good, bet you are loving being back there

Rachael King said...

Hmmm I don't know why that is happening - this is the first time either comment has come through.

Vanda Symon said...

Gondal-girl,

My brain actually became more focussed and clearer when I was pregnant - all that extra oxygen enriched blood, I think. Of course, it all went to custard the moment the on-board passenger was born, and stayed that way, I'm afraid.

Gondal-girl said...

Hi Vanda

That is re-assurance indeed, thanks for thinking to mention it...I keep hearing so many varied comments ( from you can write when they sleep to you will never write again) that I get what I call skipping rope fever - that moment when you never know when to jump. thanks again