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Luc Sante, from today's New York Times:

"I can’t listen to music when I write. Rhythm plays a big part in how I construct sentences, and even if I don’t actually count syllables, music — any kind of music — throws off my cadence. On the other hand, I like to listen to music when I’m thinking about what I’m going to write. I enjoy almost every genre, but for the purposes of propitiating the prose gods I prefer sounds with a strong beat and a brambled verbal density.

"Unsurprisingly, many of my favorite sides — some of them road-tested over many years — are by talk-over artists, in reggae, dancehall and hip-hop. It doesn’t hurt, either, that these genres deal in language that swings between the street and the Bible and throw rhythms that alternately dance and fight with their backing tracks. A few rock numbers fall into the category, too — we could talk about Bob Dylan all night, but I won’t right now. Anyway, all of these songs are as unsafe as the best kind of writing." (emphasis added)

Sante's latest book is a collection of essays called "Kill All Your Darlings." It's good stuff.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 19th, 2008 12:55 am (UTC)
Love the new avatar. How about you and music and writing? I sometimes listen, no, more than sometimes; but it's got to be just right. I wish I were a strong enough writer to actually have a cadence.
Jun. 19th, 2008 02:13 am (UTC)
I sat down to write that Business First story the other day and was just all jammed up — too much information pouring into the funnel — so I put on some Beethoven and cranked out the first draft. But after I started writing, I didn't really hear the music. Most of the time I write with no distractions or background happenings, but occasionally, I like to have Ludwig in the background.

As for wishing you had a cadence to your writing, I think it's far more important to have a voice — that is, for your writing to sound like a person instead of sounding like writing (if that makes any sense). You have a clear voice, and it's true to who you are. Besides, you're well read, and all of that reading informs your writing. That is to say, someone could go through your writing and say things like "good use of irony" or "great metaphor" or "terrific noun (or verb, or adjective) choice," and you wouldn't have been aware that you'd done those things — or, at least not been aware of them during the writing.

Jun. 20th, 2008 03:54 pm (UTC)
For me, it's Indian music that is really inspiring. Satyajit Ray is a film composer with some brilliant stuff that's perfect background for any stage of the process.

Kill all your darlings sounds nifty. It's going in my queue.
Jun. 20th, 2008 04:10 pm (UTC)
Well, here's a comment from an unexpected (but welcome) source. Thanks for taking the time to visit "If the Six."

Do I dare visit your blog, or is it "friends only" stuff for folks well on your side of the generation gap?
Jun. 20th, 2008 04:14 pm (UTC)
First off, I've been reading the "upstairs Murphy" blogs for some time now, I just figured it's appropriate to begin commenting.

And of course my blog is readable. It's new; this isn't the 8th grade blog I maintained through high school, so it's all me (minus the angst).
Jun. 20th, 2008 07:05 pm (UTC)
Funny, I never figured you as an angst kind of person.
Jun. 22nd, 2008 04:09 am (UTC)
Nice quote.
"As unsafe as the best kind of writing." I like that. :) Anyway hi this is Lisa Barnard, I don't know if you remember me from Bonas. But I read a comment of yours on Denny's blog and I knew it was you right away from your icon - because I remember talking to you about the Persistence of Memory back at Bonas (I had a print of it in my room at the time, and you had one in your office). Anyway, I hope things are going well with you!
Jun. 22nd, 2008 12:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Nice quote.
Of course I remember you, Lisa. Good to hear from you! Thanks for taking the time to read and to comment, and, if you feel like it, shoot an update my way about where you are and what you've been up to.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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