To Soothe a Savage Breast

I haven’t been here long enough to take a blogcation, so this is a brand-new, sparkling post. But I have been reflecting on past writing, trying to remember when I first started “for real.” I wish I’d kept some kind of diary, but for a writer, I never seem to write anything down, LOL.

But then I recalled my first forays into historical romance, the genre in which I started. We lived down a camp road at Sebec Lake in a very peculiar cottage. There were two small bedrooms upstairs, a half-bath, an unheated sunroom overlooking the water, and my “writing loft.” The previous owner had used it as a sewing area, with little cubbies to hold thread and cabinets for fabric. I plunked my computer down on the broad flat surface where the sewing machine used to be and stared at the lake now and then, teaching myself Microsoft Word. (A word count program? Who knew? So the first book I thought I’d written turned out to be a 20,000 word novella.)

Our stereo system was up in the loft too, and I listened and sang along to a Tim McGraw album on repeat, kind of incongruous as I was writing that 20,000 word novella in the Regency era. I should have been listening to Viennese waltzes. Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors was released in November 2002. I think I got it for Christmas. So, I guess it’s safe to say I’ve been pecking away for nearly 20 years, 11 of them published.

And that Tim McGraw cassette (!) was the very last time I wrote to music. Some authors have playlists for the books they write, but I’ve discovered I need quiet. Not even lyric-free classical music works for me; I get too distracted.

I don’t have much music in my life anymore. I used to play the cello (that’s not me above), but was seriously hampered by pencil skirts and lack of talent. Loved the Beatles. Listened to a country station when I drove back and forth to work. But now I’m retired, and the car radio is turned to the news. I’d probably be much better off with Tim McGraw.

Are you a music maven? What do you listen to? Strangely enough, all of the Lady Adelaide Mysteries are named for popular songs of the 1920s, and the lyrics have informed the plots. Farewell Blues, the final farewell to the series, releases September 14. And just like this post, it’s been called “sparkling” by Publishers Weekly.

“Music is love in search of a word.” ~Sidney Lanier

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9 Responses to To Soothe a Savage Breast

  1. jselbo says:

    Quiet is best for me too – at home. But in coffeeshops, the muzak stations are fine and the hum of people talking is great – as long as one grating voice doesn’t stand out – then I have to head back home base to the quiet (where it’s easy to get distracted). Modern jazz tends to make me nervous and edgy, – anyway – great post to think about. Tim McGraw – must’ve been a relative newbie on 2002? Or did he gain fame really young?

    • maggierobinsonwriter says:

      I had to look up Tim M. on Wikipedia, LOL. He started recording in the early to mid 90s.

  2. kaitlynkathy says:

    I like quiet when I write, too, which surprised me at first. Back in high school, the radio or the record player were always blaring when I was doing homework. I have no idea how I concentrated.

    • maggierobinsonwriter says:

      Same here. Now I can’t think straight if there’s background noise. Of course, some people might argue I never think straight anyway.

  3. kaitcarson says:

    Quiet for me as well when I’m writing. Although I love to listen to music when I hike – country – tropical rock – hard rock. It’s as if every song has a memory that takes flight. I don’t have enough mental bandwidth for the memories and the creative world when I write.

    • Julianne Spreng says:

      “I don’t have enough mental bandwidth for the memories and the creative world when I write.” That is an absolutely wonderful observation! The old crowds out the new. Music is life’s blood to me. Not that I can make it myself, but I feel it in my whole being.

      • maggierobinsonwriter says:

        I’ve realized since the kids grew up and left, the music here has died pretty much. No more Indigo Girls, Grateful Dead or Shania Twain. I only keep current when I travel and hear music at a hotel pool!

  4. Brenda Buchanan says:

    Nice post to start the day, Maggie – thanks!

    I was away on vacation last week and enjoyed a soundtrack of sea birds and the shuuussh of the incoming tide. It was a nice change from my usual, which is no music, lyrics or not.

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