On Writing & Storytelling: Monday, Music, and Waiting for My Muses

Photo by Achraf Alan on Pexels.com

“So. Monday. We meet again. We will never be friends—but maybe we can move past our mutual enmity toward a more-positive partnership.”― Julio-Alexi Genao

Late morning – at least in what is, for now, my room in Lithia, Florida – on Monday, April 10, 2023:

Curtains cracked open, but the blinds are closed to prevent the glare from the window from coming into my room (and into my eyes) as I write. Dim light, cool, comfortable ambiance.

“Where words fail, music speaks.” Hans Christian Andersen

From my Lenovo PC’s speaker and my Amazon Music app comes a mix of classical music, jazz, and swing music from the 1930s and ‘40s, and contemporary jazz composed, in part, by Wynton Marsalis; I’m listening to the soundtrack from The War: A Ken Burns Film. Not the abridged version of the eponymous CD and its digital counterpart, but – I think – an abbreviated compilation of the four separate recordings released in 2007 by Sony BMG’s Legacy record label (which were sold both in a pricey box set and in separate albums.

In case you’re wondering, the quartet of albums is comprised of:

  • “The War: A Ken Burns Film – The Soundtrack”
  • “Sentimental Journey: Hits from the Second World War”
  • “I’m Beginning to See the Light: Dance Hits from the Second World War”
  • “Songs Without Words: Classical Music from The War”
The inspiration for The Moonglow Club

As is my wont, I’m listening to this eclectic combination of music for two reasons:

First, even though I write with my bedroom/writing room door closed for solitude and to avoid unnecessary distractions, I can’t write in total silence. I’ve been writing since I was a kid – for myself from ages 9-14, and for others (school papers, my high school’s yearbook in 11th grade, clients, and the plethora of websites that I’ve created content for since 2003) – and in those 51 years, I’ve found it hard to write in a totally silent environment.

Second, while it doesn’t happen every time that I sit down at my desk to write, there have been occasions when a song or classical music composition will serve as a musical Muse and inspire me to write something based on the mood it evokes.

A perfect example is last November’s Remembering Cheryl T series of blog posts in the Tempus Fugit category. That multi-part saga might have been shorter and perhaps a bit less…maudlin…had I not been listening to the digital edition of Silverline’s 2001 audio DVD album Romantic Moments with Mozart.

Now, that album has quite a few tracks that might have inspired me to write Remembering Cheryl T, but the one that did it was the lovely but – at least to me – haunting Andantino movement from the Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra in C major, K. 299/297c.  

I don’t know why that piece serves as what I think of as the “main title” of the mental movie I saw as I wrote the first part of the Remembering Cheryl T series. All I know is that as soon as Mozart’s melodic theme traveled from my computer’s speaker to my ears and then my brain, a slew of long-buried memories came tumbling out of my subconscious, demanding to be shared with the world via this blog.

And, if truth must be told, the same thing happened in 1998 when I wrote the first rough draft of what is now my novella Reunion: A Story.

Photo by Plato Terentev on Pexels.com

“The loveliest Muse in the world does not feed her owner; these girls make fine mistresses but terrible wives.” ― Alfred de Vigny, Stello

On that occasion, though, the musical Muse proffered her gifts via three different recordings:

  • Scenes From An Italian Restaurant in Billy Joel – Greatest Hits, Volume III (1983-1997)
  • Titanic: Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Composed and Conducted by James Horner
  • Saving Private Ryan: Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Composed and Conducted by John Williams

Pro tip: If you listen to Scenes From An Italian Restaurant, you’ll see where I got the idea for the structure of Reunion: A Story; Williams’ Hymn for the Fallen from the Saving Private Ryan soundtrack, though a bit martial at times, is also indicative of the novella’s emotional atmosphere.

While I doubt that I’ll be fiddling with Project X today unless an idea sneaks up on me and bashes me on the head, I am listening to The War soundtrack in the hope that Calliope, Melpomene, and Euterpe are generous and present me with some inspiration.

In the meantime, though, the music counteracts the (sometimes) oppressive silence of my room. So even if the Muses are taking a holiday, I can still enjoy some good tunes while I write.  


Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

%d bloggers like this: