Thursday, September 29, 2011

Two for Thursday: Music as an Icebreaker + Awesome Music Group The Aster Pheonyx Project

          Music has always been a huge part of my writing process, and I rarely ever write without the stereo on or my headphones in. It focuses me. It helps me understand my characters. It helps me get into the plot of the story. When I find myself in a writing rut, most times it just means I need to turn on some music, close my eyes, and let the inspiration come. But then the question becomes: what kind of music do I listen to?

What you listen to depends on what kind of writer you are. Sometimes, it’s good to listen to the type of music that gets you jazzed up, so that you can push yourself back into your writing. Other times, it helps to match the music to the tone of the story. The latter option has been a major part of my writing process for my current manuscript, because music is part of how my main character relates to her past and how she rediscovers what she gave up and the dreams that she still has. Most of the manuscript’s soundtrack includes 90s grunge bands (as that was her first intro to music back in ’91) and classic rock. But I also have bands that are current, who I relate to and who also match the story of my main character and the tone of manuscript.

One group that has been instrumental (no pun intended) in this process, The Aster Pheonyx Project, is a fantastic local band (or, at least, local to me in good ol’ NJ) whose music I fell in love with this past summer while I was in the middle of writing my manuscript. Their songs are raw and full of emotion and rocking beats. The vocals, raspy, beautiful, and performed by the fantabulous Aster Pheonyx (who plays a mean guitar as well), are perfectly matched with the sometimes sweet, sometimes wailing, and always moving guitar riffs by Carolyn Marosy. Essentially, it’s the best type of music to lose yourself in, full of seemingly unearthly passion and a very strong dose of humanity. I started listening to APP more intently as inspiration for a make-believe opening band that my character is taken to see by her love interest. I needed something hip and fresh, but with the live (if I say psychosis, will you understand what I mean?) of the grunge music my character fell in love with in the past. The Aster Pheonyx Project was truly, the perfect marriage. When I saw them live a few weeks later, their performance matched, and maybe even exceeded all of my expectations.

If you like what you hear, don't be afraid to stop by cd baby ( to dowload some songs or buy their equally shnazzy cd Blizzards and Broken Hearts.

As fellow creative folks trying to make our way in the world through our art, it's always important to remember to support each other. No, they did not ask me to post this. It's just a thank you for unknowingly helping me to make my manuscript all that it can be.

Have a lovely weekend one and all.

<3 Gina Blechman

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Breaking Writer's Block (Part 1: Losing Self-Doubt)

Today, and probably once a week from now on, I'd like to offer an exercise in escaping writer's block. I am currently taking two creative writing courses, and one of the many focuses of both classes is being able to tap into one's inner writer even when one is going through a fallow period or is in a place (physically or mentally) that may not have a particularly positive influence on one's creativity. Hopefully, it will give me lots of ideas that I can share with you. :-)

Exercise 1: The "I'm a great writer" exercise.

Many times when we have difficulty writing it's because we've started having doubts, feel used up after a previous work, or just don't feel like we have anything to say. This exercise reminds us that we do have something to say and pin points what it is that's blocking our creativity. The routine is simple:

Grab a piece of paper--this is more effective if you use a journal or notebook instead of a computer--and keep writing "I'm a great writer" over and over until something inside you tells you you're not. If you feel like this statement isn't working for you, try upping the ante until you get to where you need to be. "I'm a fantastic writer. I will be a published writer. My next work will effect _____. My ideas and thoughts are _____." Spend some time with each phrase, writing it over and over, and figure out where you stand. Do not, at any point, stop writing

When you finally reach a conflict, probe the antagonist. Write either solely from his/her/its point of view or from his/her/its point of view and then from your own combatant one.

While I was doing this exercise, I found myself becoming more and more adamant that I had something worthwhile to say. I was so determined to blow away the voice, that my writer's block didn't even matter anymore. It reminded me that I am a writer, and I can defeat any writing obstacle if I try hard enough. Then, I went on a writing streak, just to prove that darn voice wrong.

Hopefully, you will have equally beneficial results.

<3 Gina Blechman

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Disturbance in Muse

Muses can be many different things to different people. Sometimes they're tangible. Sometimes they're not. Sometimes they're people. Sometimes they're objects, ideas, sounds, hobbies, or just a flicker of inspiration in passing. Personally, I have many muses, but, as of recently, my muse has often been a person.

A close friend of mine, who for now I'll refer to as 'Muse', has been my muse for a good year or so. Her support was critical during the querying process for my last book. Her presence inspired my writing, my current manuscript, and over a dozen songs in under eight months' time. Something about her energy complimented something in me, and both having her support, having her conversation, and being around her, and/or thinking back on her, kept my internal writer's light on high.

But as they say about "having too much of a good thing", my relationship with Muse is becoming strained, as the light I see in her is ever increasing with what she has inspired in me. Suddenly, I have become overtly aware of the difference in perception between Muse and I, and I cannot seem to focus on anything else whenever I start to write. It feels wrong using Muse as...well...a muse, and I can't get myself to do it. Though working on new projects is fine, going back to the old, Muse inspired manuscript is not working out as planned. I have no idea how to overcome this.

Have you had this problem? What did (or what would) you do?

<3 Gina Blechman

Friday, September 9, 2011

La Bella Perugia: Pictures from around town

As I mentioned in a recent post, I am spending the fall studying abroad in Perugia, Italy. This means that from now until December 16th, I will be chillin out in my schnazzy apartment, eating lots of gelato, traveling, and hopefully working on the finishing touches of my manuscript before sending it off to agents.

But, for now, I thought I'd share with you some pictures of the lovely views that I have to inspire me in the quaint little town that is Perugia.

Because I always find gelato very inspiring...

<3 Gina Blechman

Monday, September 5, 2011

What E-Readers Are Robbing You Of

I am pro-(literal-hold-in-your-hand-paper-and-ink-pick-up-off-the-shelf)books

I get that e-readers are cool. I understand that they're handy, and that they might be good for some things like the way that a lot of agents use them now to go over manuscripts, and I'm sure they work well for many other reasons. I understand that they save space and a little bit of money and it's kinda schnazzy to have a bunch of books practically in your pocket.

But, as much as you can say that, when it comes down to it, it's really just the content that you're looking for, I just can't buy in. To me that's like saying that if they found a way to manufacture porridge so that it filled you up and tasted EXACTLY like pizza or ice cream or whatever your favorites are, that you would be fine eating it for the rest of your life. After all, it fills you up AND you get all the flavors you crave, and maybe they'll even make the textures seem the same on your tongue. Same experience, just cheaper and easier, right?

But what is pizza without holding it and folding it and slurping off cheese, and what is ice cream if you can't put it on a cone and let it drip down your hand as you eat it on a hot day? I have memories of going to the bookstore and buying certain books, memories of sitting with them and scanning their pages and cover art before reading: and every book has a different feel to me. I'm sure you all have these memories too. Memories and emotions are stored in the pages, and when I look at my books on my bookshelf, I get a certain comfort knowing that they're there and that they were x to me when I needed x. You can't get that with an e-book.

<3 Gina Blechman