Ages ago, in the Before Time, Mike DeAngelo (writer of the Child of the Stars trilogy) told me I seem happier when I’m making music than when I’m writing. This was during the very beginning stages of Coincidence, when I didn’t really know where it was going. My mind’s been stuck on this memory lately because, I think, I haven’t written any lyrics or melodies in a while.
Toward the end of Coincidence, I kept telling myself I’d get back into it as soon as the novel was done. But then the website had to be made. Beta readers had to be corralled. The final read-through/proof had to be completed. Podiobooks had to be researched. And so on and so on. Plus there’s just no interest. My mind is stuck in Levittown ‘06, at that final moment in August when…Well, you’ll have to read/hear it to find out. But I’m there. Behind a tree with a notepad, humming Le Tigre’s “My Art.”
Music just seems easier to produce. For one thing, it’s much shorter. You tell yourself it’s going to be a 4 minute track, you outline it, you fill in the spaces…bam. Done. Easy. A melody or a hook may have you scratching your head for a bit, but there comes a point when you go, “Ahh…Done.” I don’t feel that when writing. “The End” means nothing. These characters are living beings. They had a life before I decided to take my snapshot; most of them will have lives afterwards too. Maybe another photo will be taken of them later.
The easier part with writing (or so I think, so I hope) is promotion. You can talk to just about anyone about it in a very short amount of time. I could talk to a teenybopper about my later Gary Numan-inspired darkwave/EBM, but it would take a while to find the right comparisons and connections. And even then, what are the chances the teenybopper will even like it? Maybe s/he knows enough to have a basic idea of dark dance music, brooding melodies, distorted beats, etc. But maybe that knowledge comes from an older sibling, a friend, whatever that s/he doesn’t see eye-to-eye with musically.
Writing? “It’s a work of fiction. Two brothers growing up in the suburbs: One vying for power through a system of drugs and crime; the other trying to find his purpose.” Done. Most people will know what fiction is. Most people will know, though they may not be able to call it this, what literary fiction is (“He didn’t mention dragons or robots, so I guess it’s one of those ‘normal’ novels where people just talk and stuff”). And most people should have some basic understanding, even if they did neither of these themselves, of doing drugs and/or finding your purpose.
So is one better than the other? Music moves me. And if I’m not in the mood for a “moving” track, I can skip to the next one. It’s also relatively quick (sometimes easy) to produce. Novels are easier to talk about, and they’re set in worlds where…Well, they’re in places that I’m always at. Your imagination can set you as the protagonist, wearing a combination of knight / mutant / man-turned-cyborg-turned-hot dog vendor clothing, with a variety of hero lines on the tip of your tongue as you’re walking into your boss’ office to ask for a raise. It’s much more difficult to combine all your favorite melodies/lyrics into one harmonious track.
Either way, I feel the need to produce both. And right now, I’m in the writing zone. Maybe that’ll change tomorrow. We’ll see.
“They think that your early ending was all wrong” – Filter’s “Hey Man, Nice Shot”