Do You Have Angst?: February 2012

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My life should have a soundtrack (part one)

I’m a little OCD and methodical about my writing, and music is a key part of that process.  This started when I found I wasn’t getting much writing done at home.  Distractions like kids, internets, snacks, video games, comic books, and other such important things tend to thwart progress.  As much as I would prefer writing at home in my office, I quickly found that several hours hidden away at a bookstore or coffee house produced more than the time I spent trying to dodge bullets and poor self-discipline.  While bookstores and coffee houses can be great places for people watching, they also tend to be noisy.  Unfortunately music with words tends to be as distracting as people talking, but music without words is perfect. 

I feel great appreciation for composers of these soundtracks, so I have to give a shoutout to those I spend the most time with.  The list below doesn’t include everything, but definitely includes the highlights.  These scores have inspired me through the completion of one book and almost a second. I'm listing twenty total in 2 blog posts, here are the first 10...

1 Bicentennial ManJames Horner:  This is a staple.  I can always fall back to this soundtrack if I’m not writing an adventure or fight scene.  One of my favorite sentimental movies, and I rarely get sick of listening to the score.  If you write, you can’t do wrong including this in your playlist.  If you drive to work, listen to this and you won’t tailgate anyone.

2 How to Train Your Dragon John Powell:  I think this was the best movie of 2010 and it has become one of my all-time favorite soundtracks.  A perfect mix of nostalgia and adventure – I love every song!

3 TransformersSteve Jablonsky: I listen to this one when I’m bracing for impact and preparing to write fierce.  Want to write a scene where great battles take place?  This is your score.  The first movie is the best, and I’m guessing the first soundtrack is too since that’s the only one I have.

4 Meet Joe BlackThomas Newman: This is my backup for Bicentennial Man, when I need to listen to something else.  I love the music, but cut out every other song as some are scored for the ‘funny’ scenes.

5 Lost Michael Giacchino:  Writing Angst I sometimes write depressed, and there isn’t much more depressing music than Lost.  Hauntingly beautiful, though I had to remove a lot of the eerie stuff from my playlist.

6 Star Trek 2009Michael Giacchino:  Great movie and great soundtrack.  The music from the beginning where Kirk’s mom gives birth and his dad dies tears at my heart – love writing to this.  If you are ever curious, check out the crazy amount of scores Giacchino has produced

7 Invincible Two Steps from Hell:  I found a great resource in movie trailer music.  An awesome selection of mostly adventure/go-getem songs, and once and awhile I’ll hear one of them in a movie preview.

8 Firefly/Serenity Greg Edmonson:  I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Joss Whedon’s Firefly and Serenity.  I don’t think I could find a greater crime than only 13 episodes, and will be eternally grateful for one Big Damn Movie.  Best scores ever, enough said.

9 The StandW.G. Snuffy Walden:  If you’ve watched the mini-series you will appreciate when I say I loved the part of the score when they are walking cross-country.  Great stuff.

10 The Fifth ElementEric Serra:  Big Badda Boom!  Awesome movie, awesome bump music.  I listen to this while thinking about what I’m writing next.

I'll be sharing ten more in my next blog post, but until then, do you listen to music when you write?  If so which scores?  I'm always looking for more music and would love to know!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My Muse Dresses Funny

My 3rd year attending the Naka-Kon anime convention in Kansas City was a great time.  Two years ago I went with my daughter, and we left in stunned silence.  It was like we had walked through a dimensional barrier to find an entirely different culture of people.  Last year we were more prepared, but my friend Allie and her daughter had the same response we did.  What the heck was that?!  This year the four of us seasoned professionals went with a friend of my daughter's, who handled it pretty well but was still surprised at what we saw.

People-watching is one of my all-time favorite things to do.  It is more than a little voyeuristic to monitor the unbeknownst while they shuffle to and fro with hardly a bit of acknowledgement or care that you are capturing their moment for your own viewing pleasure.  It’s also a constant education in sociology, psychology, and the general craziness that makes us people.  From a writer’s perspective I try to find interesting individuals and figure out how I would describe them.  I look for features that stand out, or gestures that a reader may identify with.  On those days when I’m feeling less analytical, I enjoy a great amount of entertainment.

I think an anime convention is one of my favorite people watching venues.  The attending cosplayers want to be watched, they revel in attention and opportunity to flaunt their individuality.  The best compliment you can give them is to ask for a picture.  Some spend months sewing, sculpting, duct-taping, and painting their visage (others don’t).  Cloaks, helmets, weapons, uniforms…all works of passion and art.  Even without being familiar, at all, with many of the characters these costumes were based on, it is still easy to appreciate the effort that went into their creation. 

 So, while I don’t always ‘get it’ and will never know the amount of effort made, I really appreciate the drive and inspiration behind what the attendees are trying to do.  I (usually) love the youthful in-your-face freedom they revel in.  I’m always inspired by the passion to express themselves creatively and how they want to share that with others.  It makes for one heck of a muse.

You can see more Naka-kon photos on Google+ by clicking here!