When I was fifteen I wanted a personal stereo. I used to watch anyone else that had one and feel envious of their headphones plonked on their heads like a steel crown. The earpieces were foam circles, little pieces of squashy heaven that transmitted music for your own amusings without anyone else being able to hear.
When I eventually got one following a long, hard campaign to my mum (poor woman), I was made up. You never saw me. I was lost in a world of tinny 80s music; Madonna’s Material Girl and Kajagoogoo were my friends. It was the best thing ever. Fifteen and switched off from the world.
Anyone’s who’s seen a fifteen year old will know switched off is common, much like tutting is common to those over 40. We all switch off (and tut) of course. We can’t help it. In fact, I’d go so far to say that it’s essential. This week, switching off while I write has been the way to roll. But, since I’m not fifteen anymore and therefore not living in a 3-bed with my brother and sister fighting over whose turn it is to be last in the re-used bath water, I can do what I like. And that means music.
Technology, much like my age, has moved on. Now we have iPods and boy do I like to use ours. TVs moved on, too – i.e. you can watch it on your iPad on catch up – which means the Ian Rankin Imagine programme on BBC2 I mentioned last week has been an inspiration again this time round. You see, when Ian writes, he switches on some music first. But it ain’t just any old jingle. Nope. When Ian Rankin writes his books, he listens to the same tunes. I know, I sat up at this point and listened too.
You see, what he does is play the same band on his CD player and when he hears that music it signals him to write. It switches on, if you will, his writing button. Bit like hearing an ice-cream van and being catapulted into childhood. Or the dentist’s chair. Whichever.
So, I thought I’d give Rankin’s roll a whirl, just with more technology. Shunning CDs and selecting an iPod, this week I have been working on novel number 2 to 90% Snow Patrol and 10% Stone Roses. And do you know, it works. Who knew? Normally, if you remember maybe from an earlier blog post of mine, I’d write to episodes of 24 on Love Film.com, and while this is fun, it’s not always productive. All the more made a nightmare by the fact that I have an Xmas deadline for editing this darn book. Bottom line: I have to FOCUS. Holy Jesus.
So thank the lordy lord that Snow Patrol is working for me. The foam circles from my personal stereo of the 80s have been replaced with little buds that slide out when I move, but hey ho. When the music’s on, my mind does this shift thing where I am instantly thinking like the main character. And, given that main character has just had a sex change (in a way…), this is a vital focussy type thing.
I am now over half way through the edit. Hold me to this, won’t you. Get on my case. I have to finish this thing by Christmas, at which point I will switch off from everything. Accept this time, no longer being fifteen, it’ll be with (several) sherries. When I was fifteen, it was spirits siphoned from my mate Antonia’s parents’ drinks cupboard. Don’t ask.
If you want to catch the Imagine show with Ian Rankin, I’ve popped on the BBC iPlayer link Click here >>
Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about the why I just don’t get what youth centres are for…**