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Monday, 6 August 2012

Resounding Success

As a debut emerging author, I take the utmost pleasure in regularly soaking up as much information as I possibly can. Attending literary events such as the Gold Coast Literati Festival, not only allows me to occupy the same room as my peers and other revered authors and illustrators, along with prospective readers but also puts me in prime position for collecting new insights and clarifying old wisdoms.

Resonance was one such session I recently sat in on during which fantasy writer Rowena Cory Daniells, discussed what resonance was, what it meant for the writer and to the reader and how it was acquired.

She explained how Resonance was the unique feeling the reader took away with them when they finished reading a book. For the Writer, it was that special affinity you try to instill in your writing, the mindset you need to be in in order to write true to your story.

Resonance comes in the most part from past experience. For others on the panel, Steve Irwin (author of The Dead Path) and Nerida Newton (author of the Lambing Flats), their experience stimuli included recalling their own past events and fears to add authenticity to their writing. Visual stimuli such as photos of events or places also contributed.

But if you're like me, music has a profound influence on the way you feel, think and are at any particular moment. It can transport you to another time, setting, and place, instantly triggering a set of emotions unique to the way you felt at that precise moment when you may have first heard the tune.

I associate many memorable songs with scenes, smells, sounds, even the weather at the time. And to this day find it difficult not associating how a particular song or melody resounds with that memory. Most of us have these sorts of musical reminders, songs which resonate a moment intensely personal and special; our wedding waltz, what ever was playing on the radio the first time you tasted champagne...you know the ones.

But how does this improve our writing style? Quite simply. By drawing on these images and feelings conjured by such resounding stimuli, you are adding more than a bit of reality to your tales, more depth of emotion, which allows the reader to enter your world willingly, and enables them to suspend their own beliefs and reality for a while.

And what are some of those tunes which still resound strongly with me today? Here are The Top Five of my Musical Impressions from the Resonance File. And yes, I had to double up, I mean really who can stop at just five...

  1. Streets of Philadelphia - Bruce Springsteen. It transports me instantly to a top floor apartment in downtown Istanbul on a heavily overcast, languid morning. On the streets below water trucks clank by, men smash their backgammon chips down onto well loved boards and the scent of the Bosporus competes with the smell of humanity.
  2. Everybody's Talkin' (at me) - Harry Nilsson. Convertibles cruising through fields of swishing, swaying grass. Wind in my hair, freedom in my veins.
  3. Spanish Steps - Morton Harket (of A-Ha fame). Yes this one is a little out there but I used to play this one hard during my time working on a luxury super yacht in the Caribbean. I was developing cabin fever at the time, working endless shifts and used to play this at max volume whenever there were no guests aboard as I cleaned the staterooms below decks, away from other crew. It reminded me of Europe, licking gelato under the sunshine on the Spanish Steps, missing my freedom.
  4. Riding Home for Christmas - Chris Rea. OK, I admit, I have a great Resonance with the 80's but every time I hear this gooey little ballad, I'm on a bus, deep in the dry Turkish interior, covering miles and miles before the next bowl of lentil soup and feeling like I'd reached Nirvana.
  5. Khe Sahn - Cold Chisel equal tie with Land Down Under - Men at Work. Show me an Aussie that doesn't go a bit doolally whenever either of these two are played anyway in the world outside Sydney and you're not showing me a real Aussie. Images of roof top Raki parties in Turkey...ah...youth.
I could go on and on about the Sound of Music score, but you're probably feeling slightly nauseous already. So what about you? What do you use to gain Resonance in your writing or illustrations? How do past tunes, events, and memories affect how you feel when they reoccur years later? What are your Top Five Most Impressionable songs? You'll probably be amazed at where you end up...

6 comments:

Jo Antareau said...

Hi Dimity. Great blog, and a good point, too. Since I write for small people, I find the music that was popular back in the day when my knees were perpetually scabby and trees begged me to climbed them, immediately transports me.

At the risk of dating myself, the songs that were a part of the landscape as I was growing up include... anything by ABBA, the Bay City Rollers, early AC/DC and Sherbert; the soundtrack to Grease (yesss!), and that 'really weird' one that was neverthless funny and had a great guitar riff - Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.

Ah, the 70's....

But if I want to write as my 'teen' self,that's an entirely different set of songs altogether. Ah, the 80's.

Charmaine Clancy said...

I'm not a musical person, so I don't get many songs that flash me back, but a few remind me of being in the schoolyard like Bonnie Talor's Total Eclipse of the Heart - and of course there will always be Kenny Rogers Mmmm :)

Dimity said...

Thanks for sailing by Jo. I thought I replied...cyber space...Ah ABBA. Did you ever see We Will Rock You the stage musical by Ben Elton? Sensational.

Dimity said...

Islands in the Stream...

I wonder what does flash you back Charmaine - smells, low pressure systems, a quote???

Ideas resound in every nook of our lives.

Karen Tyrrell said...

Thanks Dimity for this blog about musical resonance...
I played David Bowie's Space Odyssey CD, especially Ground control to major Tom, when I was writing my kids sci-fi, Josh and the It ... Karen :)

Dimity said...

Precisly Karen. I hope it inspired and resonnated with you.