Music (and Pictures) To Write To: All Scotland Edition

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If my math is correct, then as I post this it is a little less than 18 hours until the calendar flips over on September 18th, 2014 in Scotland, otherwise known as the date of the Independence Referendum.

I know exactly where I was one year ago, because I was there, in Scotland. To be specific, on the 18th of September, I woke up in the village of Kenmore, had lunch in Pitlochry, zipped by the Cairngorms, and ate dinner beside the River Ness. It was a helluva trip, one that will leave a lasting impact on myself and by proxy my writing for years to come.

So to mark the occasion, I thought I’d do a Scotland-themed MtWt. And then I thought I’d add some pictures. And then I realized I wouldn’t want to share just one song, so I’m going to go freaking nuts and share a bunch. And also pictures (taken by me, so excuse any lapse in quality).

First up, a classic, Loch Lomond as performed by Scottish folk legends The Corries

Loch Lomond, copyright Z.T. Burian

Loch Lomond

Next, one of my favorite artists, who almost always sings in a language I can’t understand but I adore anyways, Julie Fowlis. This video has a nice intro, and it’s a live performance. With a baby. Just watch it.

The Isle of Mull from Iona

The Isle of Mull from Iona

On to one of my favorite bands, not just from Scotland but from anywhere, Frightened Rabbit. I have had their album Midnight Organ Fight on repeat some days, and still can’t get enough of it.

Holyrood

Holyrood

For something completely different, here’s my favorite Mogwai tune.

And last, because I can’t resist, and because I absolutely love this song (not ironically), The Proclaimers.

Kenmore in the morning

Kenmore in the morning

Edinburgh in the evening

Edinburgh in the evening

Collies!

Collies!

My sister and me and Edinburgh Castle

My sister and me and Edinburgh Castle

I have thousands more pictures (not hyperbole), but I’m wearing out my welcome I think. Scotland has influenced my writing through the music above, and the places I visited. Old Town Edinburgh was my model for Ganton in Gone To Wonder. Celtic and gaelic imagery abounds in my work. But I could never do the place justice, in pictures or words.

I’m American, so what goes down the 18th is none of my damn business. No matter the result, I hope Scotland becomes an even more impressive place, and I wish the people there success. If you’ve never been there, I hope you visit someday. You might just be inspired to write.

Music To Write To: “Alone”

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Well, this has been a shitty week. There’s not much an individual can do to change things. Ultimately, we’ve got control of our own thoughts and not much else. When we do get a chance, we’ve got to step up and do our best. Andrew and I made a wager this week, which we hope will give a little back.

And there’s also the ever-present hope that, through writing, we may affect the world, even if it is just to entertain for a short while.

Please enjoy this week’s Music To Write To, a song I first heard on The Way Way Back and which has become a regular in my repertoire of music to listen to while writing. It reminds me during the lonely process that writing can be, I am never truly alone.

Music To Write To: Tom Traubert’s Blues

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There is just something about Tom Waits. His voice is incredibly haunting, his lyrics are always so familiar yet just out of reach, and you can feel the emotion emanating from every note and chord in every song.

Tom Traubert’s Blues (Waltzing Matilda) gets me into an emotional state that preps me for some deep writing. It’s not the best music to write action scenes to, but when I was writing my recent ebook, Tim and the Breakup of Impending Doom, this song put me in the right frame of mind.

Tom Waits is the kind of artist who, even though his songs often times come off surprising, can still inspire with his voice and imagery.

Music To Write To: Gone To Wonder Edition 2

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I’ve been a bit post-deficit lately. I’m sure you’ve all been very disappointed. To make it up to you, today I’d like to share a bit of whimsy.

Gone To Wonder is about, among other things, a steampunk theme park. The closest living analogue is Discoveryland in Disneyland Paris, and this incredible dragon which premiered this year.

In order to get the feel, I read a few books, but there’s nothing like a bit of music to get in the mood. Below is a song from Abney Park. If you fancy it, they’ve got a few albums out. I’d also recommend checking out Steam Powered Giraffe (the video for their song “Brass Goggles” is a lot of fun). Enjoy.

Music To Write To: Gone To Wonder Edition

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Culloden

Happy Monday everyone. In lieu of my normal long post, I’ve decided to do a special Music To Write To post today. Of July, I plan to preview my forthcoming series Gone To Wonder, with some behind the scenes posts, tidbits, maybe some art (if I can do an art that I won’t be mortified to post), and some general fun related to GtW.

First up is one of the songs that most strongly inspired me. It is called “Mo Ghile Mear“, an Irish song that translates to “My Gallant Darling”, written by Seán Clárach Mac Domhnaill in the 18th century. “Mo Ghile Mear” is a beautiful song, with or without translation, and has been recorded by many musicians over the years. It is a lament sung by Ireland herself about the exiled Bonnie Prince Charlie. The version that I love the most is sung by the University College of Dublin Choral Scholars, and is available on iTunes.

I’ll embed a live version below, but I encourage anyone to download and listen to the mp3, it is a wonderful track (and the rest of the EP is great as well, especially their rendition of “The Parting Glass”).

Why this song? What does it have to do with Gone To Wonder? This song inspired the opening scene of the novel, in which the heroes watch what is called the Hero Ceremony. Every night inside the indoor theme park Finnegan’s Wonder, a person is selected from the visitors present to be the Hero of Ganton. They are chosen based on the story they act out during the day, and the actions they take within the story. The person whose story is the most heroic is selected as the Hero, and the centerpiece of an elaborate show/parade. The highlight of which is the music. The song that is sung? Yep, “Mo Ghile Mear.”

It resonated with me in other ways, too. The song is a lament, and the characters of Finnegan’s Wonder are in lament. They lament their missing hero, Edward the Clanker. And their are other thematic connections, which I’ll leave for the reader to discover as they may.

One of the reasons I’ll be doing this for all my MtWt posts for the next month is to illustrate a bit of my creative process. I’m sort of a mix between the obsessive outliner and the seat-of-my-pants style writing. I’ll plan things out carefully, but then as I’m writing, if inspiration in the moment takes me down a different path, I’ll follow that to see where it goes. But I also actively seek out things that will catch my attention, my interest, and my inspiration. Most of the time, that ends up being music. When I stumbled across the UCD Choral Scholars on Youtube, I was hooked. And when I heard their “Mo Ghile Mear”, I knew the opening scene of the whole Gone To Wonder series. The inspiration snowballed from there.

Come by next week for another music selection that inspired me as I wrote.

(Bonus share: A Scottish rendition of “Mo Ghile Mear.” When I visited Culloden this past September, the song was a perfect companion.)

Music To Write To: Suicide Medicine

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Here is one that ZT introduced me to a few years. My favorite kind of music to write to is the kind that tells a story. It helps to inspire me to write my own stories, and it helps me to develop deep characters and rich plot lines.

 

Suicide Medicine by Rocky Votolato is a song that truly brings out the story teller in me. And, with any hope, it’ll do the same for you.