Playlist: Noir Piano

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Billy Joel and Elton John can take a well-deserved break, and let these artists, both old and new, take a turn at the ivories. The songs featured in this playlist are contemplative and melancholy, perfect for writing on a long dark night.

Piano Song Charlie Alex March In the End-EP
The Rain Falls and the Sky Shudders
Moby Songs 1993-1998
Murder Made History Death In June Peaceful Snow
Hypocritical Kiss Jack White Blunderbuss
He Films the Clouds, Pt. 2 Maybeshewill Not for Want of Trying
Miles and Miles Minus Story My Ion Truss
Armageddon Piano Trevor Rabin Armageddon (Score)
October U2 October
Winter Kills Yaz Upstairs At Eric’s
Opening Philip Glass Ensemble Glassworks
Between Sheets Imogen Heap Ellipse
Sonata Bombay Dub Orchestra Bombay Dub Orchestra
Falling, Catching Agnes Obel Philharmonics
The Hill Markéta Irglová Once (Movie Soundtrack)
Perfect Circle R.E.M. Murmur
Mad World (Alternate Version) Michael Andrews & Gary Jules Donnie Darko (Music from the Motion Picture Score)
Lights in the Sky Nine Inch Nails The Slip
Sentimental Porcupine Tree Fear of a Blank Planet
An Other Name Thomas Newman Café del Mar, Vol. 8
Turn to Stone Ingrid Michaelson Turn to Stone–Single
Amok Diary of Dreams Alive
Doll Helen Jane Long Porcelain

As always, if you want to hear this one, click on my youtube link. Do you have a favorite piano song, or a favorite writing playlist?

Celebrating One Year of Blogging Fun

I’m surprised at this myself, but I’ve been on A Scenic Route for a whole year now! I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge this milestone with some thoughts about how I ended up here.

I pretty much stumbled into blogging. WordPress makes it incredibly easy to start a blog, so the temptation was great to come in and take a peek. What I discovered thrilled me. Themes, ready to fill with pictures and words! Widgets to track my word counts! Fonts galore! Spam blockers! I immediately set about making this place feel like home, rearranging the furniture so that my words might feel comfy here.

It never occurred to me that I was going to get visitors. I was just playing around. I’m a super shy writer. In fact, when I showed my blog to a writer friend, who knows about my inhibitions, she asked me, “If you’re afraid to show your work, why do you have a blog?”

Well, she had it exactly right. That is the perfect reason for me to have a blog. Blogging has been a great way for me to start overcoming my self-doubt, five hundred to a thousand words at a time. Many of my first posts were password protected, partly because they contain copyrighted How to Think Sideways course material, but also because exposing so much of myself to the world was downright scary for me. Clicking the publish button and the thought of someone coming upon my words induced stomach cramps.

Image via Geeks.com

Because writing isn’t supposed to induce gastric distress, I knew this was something I had to work through. I resolved to post something once week and wrote about anything that crossed my path. (Surfing by moonlight, anyone?) Usually though, I ended up with writing related posts: research discoveries, progress reports, playlists, or character interviews. The random nature of my posts fit in with the title and intent of the blog–to chronicle my writing journey.

The first few months were challenging for me. Even after the piece was published, I would usually edit it at least four or five times. I couldn’t imagine my words ending up in someone’s inbox, where my leaps of logic, typos, and grammar faux pas would be exposed for all the world to see.

Before I knew it though, I found myself looking forward to putting something up on the blog. I got a deep sense of satisfaction seeing my words up here, neat and edited, with pictures on the side, just like the pro blogs do. I looked at the Freshly Pressed blogs and aspired to be just like them, polished and pretty and popular.

Then, I gained a follower. Just one was enough to make me feel that I was now big time. The pressure was on, and I felt my posts had to be more perfect than before. Lo and behold, my practice paid off. I only edit my words once (or twice … ) after they post.

Now that I have a few followers—and believe me, the fact that you have invited me into your inbox means more to me than you can even know—I feel I should let the world know what joining me on A Scenic Route means.

My goal from the beginning was to make my blog a peaceful place to visit and read about my words and my stories. No hustle, no credit cards, no exhortations to visit this or that. No blatant pitches to buy my book—not that my book is anywhere near being finished. A Scenic Route strives to be a one stop shop for fun and relaxation. My writing is my holiday, my rest stop, my few hours of escape from the hassles of the everyday. I want my blog to be the same.

What is your vision for your blog?  How long have you been blogging?

April Is A Good Month For Writing

Here it is, the end of another month, and time for another scintillating report on my progress. I’m pleased to announce that something magical happened this month. Not the earth-shattering, oh-my-gosh, I’m published, kind of something, but something more subtle, as if the ground beneath my feet has steadied to make my steps more sure as I go on.

I know I’ve written ad nauseam about my time management issues in the previous months, and in the middle of this month I had what felt like a meltdown in terms of having so many projects that I simply felt I could no longer keep up.

Then something happened. I began to see with clarity the amount of time each of my endeavors takes up.

  • I know it takes me twenty minutes to do my morning words.
  • I know that it takes me between an hour and a half to two hours to revise a scene.
  • I know that I can spend an hour in the blogosphere and catch up with pretty much everyone I like to hang out with.
  • I know it takes me about two hours to critique a two thousand word chapter.
  • I know that I can spend way too much time in the Holly Lisle forums, and that I need to be careful not to get caught up in that, even though I learn a lot there.
  • I know it takes me about two hours to put together a decent post for A Scenic Route.

Anyway, the key to this revelation was that, since my time is limited, knowing how long each task takes gives me the power to decide which project to engage. It probably sounds obvious, that I need to choose what to work on, but knowing how much each choice will cost me in terms of time makes this so much easier to manage.

So, based on that, I’ve cut back somewhat on my posts at Write A Book With Me, so that if I post on A Scenic Route I don’t post there, because posting on two blogs in one day seems like an unreasonable amount of effort. I’ve cut back to doing one critique per week, and let my critique partners know that I’ve done this in order to devote more time to my revision. I’ve set a timer on my blog activities. I’ve devoted mornings and morning words to developing the plot on my next book, the first book of The Dragon’s Milk Chronicles trilogy.

It seems to be working out really well, because most of the time when I am writing I am deliriously happy.

Then, this month, I finally got started on the second pass of my revision. With scene one.

Even though I had detailed notes at my side, and scene cards with comments about what I need to change in each scene, as well as a calendar with the dates and times of each scene, and a list of how each character talks, it was intimidating to start back in on this, since I have already worked so hard on it and am about to tear it to pieces again.

As a concession to my nerves, I made a back up of the entire draft and put it away. This way I felt I
had a safety net before I started hacking away at this again. It was like planting a flag in the ground, to mark my progress and saying, “This is how far I’ve come. It can’t get any worse than this.”

My first scene was a light editing scene, so all I had were changes in the timeline, the setting, and a character slated for a personality tune-up. Once I started working on it, writing the changes in the margins and the back of the manuscript I became profoundly aware that I really am making improvements on what came before. My pen seemed to be ahead of my brain sometimes, as if I had put on a pair of X-ray goggles and could suddenly see the parts of my prose that weren’t working; where a sentence slowed down the pace, where a character needed to stop for breath before his next sentence, or where a piece of description was needed to fill out the setting.

Got my X-Ray Editing Shades

In other words, in the course of my persistence, I have learned something.

I was so proud of that first scene, that I wanted to hold these words to my heart and sing, “Mine all mine!” I know there will be scenes in this revision that won’t make me feel quite as buoyant when I finish, but having this one feel so right is a big step for me.

The biggest lesson for this month then: I really am learning something as I plug away at this every day!

Have you ever had a moment when you knew, this was the best scene, the best chapter, or even the best sentence, you’ve written so far?