Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning on Monday, April 12, 2021 here in New Hometown, Florida, and it is a nice spring day, at least by Florida standards. The current temperature is 72˚F (22˚C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 90% and the wind blowing from the north-northwest at 6 MPH (9 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 71˚F (22˚C). The temperature will rise later, though; the forecast calls for a high of 81˚F (27˚C) and light rain throughout the day. Tonight, the skies will be partly cloudy and the low will be 56˚F (14˚C).
Yesterday my classical music CD collection grew by one album; I received my latest purchase – a 1988 recording of Sergei Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27, performed by the world-famous London Symphony Orchestra under the baton of conductor Gennadi Rozhdestvensky.
I bought this album for two reasons. First, I like to work – whether it’s writing this blog or on other projects (like a screenplay) – while listening to music, especially classical music and/or film scores. Sometimes it’s just a way to break up the silence of my room; I like calm, not-too-noisy environments in which to write, and often my room – which until last summer was my study – is as silent as a room with a working computer can be.
And most of the time, I am cool with that. When I’m writing, I tend to focus on the document I am currently working on – regardless of whether its Microsoft Word, Write Bros. Movie Magic Screenwriter 6.0, or Movie Outline 3.0 – and can tune out background chatter, the whir of my PC’s fan, and the tap-tap-tapping of my fingers on the keyboard.
But sometimes the silence – or, more accurately, near-silence – does get to me, so to break it up a bit I have to put on some music. And since songs with lyrics are kind of what my college journalism prof used to call an “attractive nuisance,” that music has to be instrumental. Otherwise, I’ll end up giving more of my attention to John Denver, The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Nat “King” Cole, or Billy Joel than to the work at hand.
The second reason is more of a creativity issue because I often get ideas for a story – either in prose or film – from a song or musical composition I heard.
For instance, in 1998, when I originally wrote Reunion, the short story I self-published nearly three years ago, I was inspired by Billy Joel’s Scenes from An Italian Restaurant, at least (in part) thematically and (a lot) in its story-within-a-story structure. I did listen to some classical music while I was writing Reunion, but the initial spark came from Billy’s 1977 song (which, by the by, is his longest pop/rock track recorded in a studio with a duration of 7 minutes and 37 seconds – there are other Billy Joel compositions that are longer, but they’re usually either recordings of live performances or selections from the album of classical piano compositions he composed, Fantasies and Delusions.)
Another instance of a project inspired by a song is the first script I wrote that was produced: A Simple Ad. My buddy and collaborator Juan Carlos Hernandez had asked me to write a two-minutes long film, and I had no idea what kind of a story I could tell in that brief amount of time. I floundered like a fish out of water; a film school grad could have come up with a two-page script easily; I have not set foot in a school where filmmaking is a major, so this proved to be a tough nut to crack. 
What saved me from emailing Juan and telling him, “Man, I can’t do this!” were three things:
- My determination to write the screenplay even if I couldn’t keep it to two minutes
- An apocryphal story about Ernest Hemingway
- The Welsh lullabye Suo Gan, which I first heard in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun (1987)
So…this time around I have a good idea about the story I want to tell. In general terms, at least, which is far better than when I started working on A Simple Ad back in 2019. But I need a piece of music to help me conjure up some of the inner drama of the story at hand, and although I have other compositions for other bits of the movie, I do like the third movement, the Adagio, from Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27 the most.
After I take a shower, change into “street clothes” (even though the weather precludes a walk) and eat lunch, I’ll pop the CD into a player and see what “the Rach” does for my inner Muse.
On that note, then, I’ll wrap up this first post of my work-week. Until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.
 And, to be honest, I didn’t quite manage to get the film down to two minutes’ running time. A Simple Ad clocks in at 3:41, not including the Google Ads commercial that YouTube tacks on at the start.