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Favourite soundtracks for writing

Whenever I sit down to write at my desk, there’s a standard list of soundtracks I always go to. In no particular order, I’ve listed these below.

Monument Valley Original Game Soundtrack (by Stafford Bawler, et al.)

Recommended by Shawn Blanc and I fully agree. I put the Monument Valley soundtrack on mostly when writing non-fiction since I find the mood it evokes to be quite nonintrusive. It helps me focus, get my writing done and doesn’t get in the way.

Angels in America (by Thomas Newman)

I’m a sucker for any music by Thomas Newman. The man is a genius (anyone who can keep a dry eye during Finding Nemo will probably disagree with me). His score for the HBO mini series “Angels in America” is evocative of broad sweeping landscapes and rich theatre. I love how a number of key themes are interwoven again and again in different styles and structures throughout.

Oxenfree (by scntfc)

I would hazard this soundtrack is an acquired taste and you would’ve had to play the game to understand this one. Oxenfree was a surprisingly addictive story-adventure game I played last year. The loopy time travel story was written with such style. The teenagers’ dialogue was very well written and the voice acting was great. Putting the soundtrack on whilst writing mysterious pseudo-scientific parts of my story went well together.

The Cider House Rules (by Rachel Portman)

A classic book & movie about growing up, finding your own path in life and how we view the people we look up to in our youth. The soundtrack carried such warmth that it helped set the mood for the warmer, family-oriented parts of my story.

Alan Wake (by Petri Alanko)

A soundtrack written for a game inspired by the stories of Stephen King. What’s not to like? The mysterious and broad sweeping score to the highly entertaining game from Remedy was a great companion during the more intense parts of my story.

Heavy Rain (by Normand Corbeil)

Can we spot a pattern here? I do find game soundtracks extremely useful in my writing, since they’re almost designed to get “out of the way” as you play a game. Although I would contest that with this soundtrack. The melodramatic (yet entertaining) PS3 game Heavy Rain features some of the most (in hindsight) hilarious scenes in gaming history (Press X to Shaun link). But the dramatic soundtrack helped to set the tone extremely well.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (by John Williams)

A classic movie with a classic John Williams soundtrack. Need I say more? An uplifting feeling of adventure and excitement permeates throughout. If you’re writing a fun action scene, the motorcycle scherzo will definitely inspire you!

Mass Effect 2 (by Jack Wall et al.)

The last one on this list. The Mass Effect games were great (particularly if you did some manual labour and fixed the ending using mods). No soundtrack captured the spirit of these three games (I’m choosing to ignore Andromeda) as well as the soundtrack to the second game. Composed by Jack Wall & others, the mood evoked is one of technological grandeur. The last run of the album (starting with Crash Landing and smoothly moving into the Suicide Run) has to be the greatest piece of music ever written to accompany an action scene.

Honourable mentions

Whilst I could go on, the ones that almost made the list were: Jade Empire (by Jack Wall), The Expanse (by Clinton Shorter), Journey (by Austin Wintory), Dragon Age: Origins (by Inon Zur) & Baldur’s Gate (by Michael Hoenig).

I hope you found this list useful. Sound off in the comments below: What’s your favourite music to write to?

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Ramblings

Gay marriage for Germany

Gay marriage for Germany

Since this weekend, it’s now possible for gay couples to get married in Germany. I must’ve been sleeping, since I thought it already was. So: yay, Germany! Welcome to the club of enlightened countries that realises love = love.

Growing up in the Netherlands, gay marriage has been a part of our country’s DNA for over fifteen years now. And whilst that is still an incredibly short time in comparison to straight marriage, still. It’s easy to forget how privileged we are. In a few weeks time, my husband and I will be celebrating our two year anniversary. I can remember many times where, during the first few minutes of a conversation on the phone, people would say “your wife” and I had to correct them. But nobody ever missed a beat and just corrected their pronouns and continued on. As I said, it’s easy to forget the privileges we have.

Also in the news this weekend, the largest pride festival in the world in Madrid. And the first stories on the horrible, horrible treatment of gays in Chechnya reached the news here. The contrast between these events is staggering. On the same continent, gay people are subsequently planning their marriage, having a party or being imprisoned and killed.

The range of civil liberties and the lack thereof is staggering and has replaced my initial “Oh, I thought they already could get married” thoughts in relation to gay marriage in Germany. Particularly in light of Chechnya, it’s still so important to shine a light on these events, that it is worth acknowledging that as a country, you stand for equality. In the face of such brutality, hatred and fear it is all we can do.

So for taking this step with us: Thank you Germany. May you live happily ever after.

Ramblings

Short term vs. long term

I recently finished a classic book on writing that I’d never heard about: Writing down the bones by Natalie Goldberg. For anyone interested in writing I would strongly recommend this book. The book is a selection of thoughts and ideas on the topic of writing in relation to ourselves and the world around us. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, this book will help put your own writing voice in perspective.

But the purpose of this blog post is not to review Ms Goldberg’s excellent book. Whilst reading it, I was reflecting on my writing process. Currently I have a fulltime job which leaves me with limited time to dedicate to writing. As part of “building my profile” I started this website. Which brings me to a bit of a dilemma:

With limited time for writing, where do I put my focus?

My blog posts are short pieces of writing, focusing either on reviews or on my activities as a writer. Even though my blog is still young, I find it an enjoyable way to showcase my writing. But every minute spent writing a blog post could also be spent on working on my manuscript.

Whilst reading that book it became clear to me that all writing matters. So in that sense, no minute is wasted as long as I’m writing. In that sense my focus should be on writing things that matter to me. Whether it’s a character arc or some snappy dialogue or a reflection on dividing limited time between multiple writing projects.

Ramblings

Blog has started

After some deliberation, I’ve decided to take the plunge. My author’s website is online. Since I’m not published yet, I’ve decided to use this blog to also chronicle the journey towards publication.

As far as I’m concerned, that’s not a question of “if”, but more a question of “when”. Even if it takes 30 years. Probably not the best pitch ever to entice prospective readers follow my blog: “Join me on this 30 year journey towards publication!”

And with that being said, let’s get going.