Facing the Music

"Music is a more potent instrument than any other for education, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul." -PlatoI just returned from another virtuoso performance by The Musical Box–a lovely date night with hubs at the Howard Theatre. We’ve seen all that group’s versions of the early Genesis concerts several times now, and even when there was an unexpected bit of equipment malfunction tonight, they played through it seamlessly and delivered rousing versions of the great Genesis songs, including “Watcher of the Skies,” “The Musical Box,” and “Supper’s Ready.” But it had me reflecting on a recent conversation with other writers. It seems that a good many of them start off writing fanfics. Some of the bestselling stories out in recent years also started as fanfics. How often does any creative endeavor begin in homage to an artist who has moved you?

For myself, as much as I loved Anne McCaffrey’s Pern and would have given a lot to live in that world, it was always only her world. I think in some part of my mind, I would have seen a take-off on what she had started as some kind of plagiarism. And there is copyright law to support that contention. In her case, specifically, she left specific instructions about who was allowed to write in her world, with the result that while she produced over 20 books of Pern stories in her life, nothing new has been added to it since her death.

And yet, the number of times I’ve had a particular song jump to mind as being applicable to a scene could be accounted as a different kind of fanfic. While I seriously doubt I will ever again allow a core scene to be driven by lyrics that demand licensing agreements, it’s hard to argue with the depth of cultural reference songs can add. In the case of my Red Slaves story, there are layers of meaning to the scene when Ivan is quoting an Elvis song. The lyrics themselves are a useful insight to his feelings, but the fact that he remembers music from the 50s in the 90s should be a pointer to careful readers that he’s much older than he seems. It’s also a useful contrast of Anne’s ability to understand his basic English between the beginning and the end of that book. (Oddly, in refreshing my memory about the details of the song tonight, I discovered that it was released on my birthday… fifteen years before I was born.)

So Plato was definitely onto something with the impact music can have on us. The other tune I discovered recently is being called Swedish Marble Punk, and is as much performance art and fine craftsmanship as music–and I can watch, rewatch, and re-listen to it over and over.

Something about all this explication on rhythm and harmony ties in with a link hubs sent this week with thirty beautiful quotes about reincarnation. I think my favorite is the one from Isaac Bashevis Singer–though there are some surprise entries in the list, too (cough Henry Ford cough):

There is no death. How can there be death if everything is part of the Godhead? The soul never dies and the body is never really alive.

Which brings me back around to the question of what it really means to live. For me, an essential part of living is finding the rhythms of creation–which I express through my storytelling. But Kait shared a link this week about how to manage your energy that had some profound insights in it. The fallacy we all seem to fall for is that if we can just squeeze more productivity out of the limited amount of time we have, we can find satisfaction in finally accomplishing all we’ve set out to do. If we don’t have any energy left over after that, though… have we really lived?

For me, this week, I’ve been able to add 1,799 words to my manuscript, and I’m feeling caught behind the 8-ball. I wrote more last week than I have in quite some time, but even if I keep to this pace, I don’t think I’ll finish my WIP before our company arrives at the end of the month. If I kill myself to finish before my friends arrive, how will I enjoy that as my reward, though?

It’s a perpetual question of balance, and I perpetually seek its answer. We again slowed down on walking, partly because I had a lower or higher grade headache all week. Hubs says this is a classic sign of deficiency (especially lack of sleep), but we’re not doing that well on fixing that issue either.

So I will keep looking for balance in my activities and goals, and try to remind myself that certain rhythms can’t be ignored, no matter how inspired I might feel. In the meantime, check out my ROW80 cohorts until I return again next week.

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One thought on “Facing the Music

  1. My fan fiction of choice will always be Star Trek. But then, if it weren’t for the fans and the stories they created when I was no more than a baby who had never heard of Vulcans and had no idea yet that she was born nine days after the first moon landing, that nifty little low-budget, big-ideas sci-fi show would have vanished –

    And the world would be a much poorer place.

    So I write my stories unabashedly. I craft them as carefully and lovingly as my original writing. I will never ever charge for them. They are a product of passion, offered freely to those who will enjoy them.

    I might be playing a bit fast and loose with copyright, but Trek has gone so far into the public consciousness that it honestly feels like public domain, almost folklore. And my intent is to bring new members to the fandom, not to steal anything from it.

    As for your manuscript, I say do what you reasonably can, then enjoy your guests. No sense being frazzled and missing out on the fun!

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