Industrial Urban Noise to Write By

Some people like playlists as audio background while they write. I haven’t found that suits me. The music I like changes my mood, distracts me and I just don’t want to work that way. I could look for white noise, like the TV once the station has gone off the air for the night. But, that’s just a bit too plain and doesn’t seem worth spending the electricity on. I could try the sound of rain, or humpback whales, or the spa music my sister-in-law likes. Those would be nice, enjoyable but… mood altering in a way I don’t really want when I’m writing.

So, what did I think of next… ?

Industrial urban noise – the sound of the subway or street cars in particular. There must be other urban audio recordings for people who don’t want to listen to music or anything too peaceful and harmonious. I’m on the look out for mechanical noises to write by.

Beware The Phantom of the Opera

I will never forget seeing The Phantom of the Opera in live theatre downtown Toronto years ago with my family. I loved it. The rest of them…. they mocked it and continued to mock the show for weeks afterward. Doesn’t it really bug you when someone else just doesn’t get (understand) something you love? Anyway, that was years ago.

Phantom of the Opera Live on Stage or Creepy on Film?

I don’t think anyone, having heard the music from Phantom of the Opera, will ever really get it out of their head again. The story is one which has been told and retold in endless versions and twists since Beauty and the Beast (likely there was an earlier version before then but we don’t know it).

Does anyone remember the Phantom of the Paradise which starred Paul Williams back in 1974? For me that was far creepier than the Phantom of the Opera performed live at the theatre. But, the theatre was meant to be for all ages. The movie was not. It had all the weirdness of a movie made in the 1970′s and then some. I still remember the feeling of being creeped out more than the movie itself.

I’d like to read the original book by Gaston Leroux.

The sad thing about reading books which were not originally written in English is having to trust the translator not to edit anything while they re-write the book for an English reading audience. No one should buy a book which has been translated without finding out about who did the work and how it was done. So much can be changed depending on standards and ethics at the time. I’d like to read the book as close to the vintage version (with all the signs of the times) left intact.

I’m adding Phantom of the Opera to my list of classic books to be read. It’s a long list but I’m getting there, one book at a time.

The Dangers of Sitting

Sitting requires a person to remain in one place. This can be dangerous for health and safety reasons.

Standing allows for quicker reactions. People already standing can jump, dash or run that much sooner than someone who starts from a seated position. When action is needed sitting down isn’t a great option.

Musical chairs is a game where sitting is dangerous. Players compete for the dwindling number of chairs each time the music stops. Falling out of a chair, being pushed from a chair, or not getting a seat at all, keeps the game challenging. Even getting a chair doesn’t keep you from having someone attempt to sit on you.

There are health reasons to avoid sitting too. Long periods of being seated can cause poor circulation. Break up sitting time with light exercise. Stand up, stretch and walk in place for five minutes. Just five minutes will be enough to bring circulation back to your limbs.

Consider going back to bed for a nap as a better alternative to the dangers of sitting.

Written as a writing test for a website. Posted here as a quick and easy way to get the word count and spellcheck at the same time. What would you write on the topic “The Dangers of Sitting” with 250 words, or less?

Remembering BackWash

Listen to Your World

In a world of noise and bustle, we very often do not listen to it. Singers have often used city sounds as inspiration. Neil Diamond had a hit a number of years ago about the sounds of New York. As a writer you can listen to the sounds in your world and write about them.

Tonight, as I was arriving home, I heard a different sound in my parking garage. A lone cricket had found his way into the garage and the walls and cars worked to amplify his music. I started thinking about “a lone cricket, a lonely cricket, a lonely cricket attracting his mate… you get the idea. The “what ifs” led me to a poem.

Think about the sounds of your world.
What does your child sound like sleeping?
What are the sounds of your family dinners?
What is the sound of your morning? night?
What does the night outside sound like?
What is the sound of pen/pencil across paper?
What are the sounds of your neighborhood on a Saturday morning?
Listen to the park on a Sunday afternoon as the old couple shuffle hand in hand.
Hear the squeak of the swing.
Be very quiet and listen to the wind whisper in the trees.
Hear the waves on the lake…the roar of the jet ski… and the silence of the sail boat.
And what about the clatter of the diner?
Close your eyes, listen to your surroundings. Be sure to have your notebook with you. After all, you are a writer and I have to assume you have it with you all the time. Make quiet time for yourself. After about 20 minutes, write what you have heard. It will provide you with grist for your writer’s mill. What you write now may not have application, but you are training yourself to see. And those notes may just be the kernel of a story.

The post above comes from a friend I met while writing on BackWash.com. The network is now gone, just archives you can find with the Wayback Machine. The writer is gone too. Marcia was taken by cancer several years ago. I posted this because we are having a BackWash reunion. At first I thought it was ten years but it may be more than that. Anyway, it is at least ten years since the days I was a columnist on BackWash. If you wrote for the site take a look at the reunion site and add your update to the Personalities page. 

What Can Writers Offer as a Live Performance?

There are few options for writers, artists and musicians when it comes to protecting your work in the days of the computer and Internet. It seems there is not much to be done once you fire off the initial legal mouth piece paperwork. Then sit back and wish you could hire someone to really do something.

All that work and in the end it can’t pay the bills, created for art, not money.

I was thinking about that this afternoon. I came to the conclusion that musicians have the best chance at still making money from their art. Musicians have live performances which they can sell tickets to and collect a profit. They can use the event to sell music too. Not to mention the gadgets and accessories like T-shirts which they make something on from the work of others.

What can writers and artists do as a live performance? I can’t think of anything really useful or reliable as a way to make money from your art in the modern world. Yes, writers can read their poetry or fiction and hope to sell a few books. Live readings don’t make the money a live music performance can, no T-shirts either.

I’ve seen artists as street painters – temporary work which people watch and may chip in a dollar or other spare change while they stand around and watch the artist at work. No rent money on that plan.

So, what can writers and artists offer as a live performance with the plan of making money from their work without the problem of having their work ripped off and sold by someone else?

Two Quotes from Billy Joel

I am no longer afraid of becoming lost, because the journey back always reveals something new, and that is ultimately good for the artist. – Billy Joel

If you make music for the human needs you have within yourself, then you do it for all humans who need the same things. You enrich humanity with the profound expression of these feelings. – Billy Joel

Your Free Copyrights

Long before the Internet people used the mail service as a cheap way to protect and establish their copyrights for written material. You just make a copy of your work and mail it to yourself. If you keep the envelope sealed you have a preserved copy of your work, dated by Canada Post (insert the name of the postal service in your location).  It was a cheap and fairly good way to prove your work was your own original work.

Now we have the Internet. Publishing online is risky if you want to control your written work, your words. Copyrights are in battle with artists, governments, corporations and the public all pulling in their own directions. Each group has their own agenda and all too often they don’t really seem to listen to each other. At times they actually want the same thing and yet, can’t see it.

Anyway, today I found a link to MyFreeCopyright.com on a blog by Veronica. I have seen it before but today I clicked the link and went for a visit.

I thought it was funny how the basis of the copyright plan was following the traditional idea of mailing your work to yourself. Something so old is still around, just in an updated version for the digital age.

This could work for most people. You would have something to show for the date your work was created. It would be using a service not of your own making to prove the date.

However, it doesn’t really do anything to control your written work online. It’s still out there, waving around like laundry on a clothes line. Anyone can still come along and take what they want. Publishing online is still reliant on the honour system, old fashioned trust and good will.

Is it frustrating? Yes. Is it worth steaming and stewing about? Not really. As individual artists we just don’t have the resources to do a lot about it. I have had my work taken. I’ve even had my ASCII Art taken and claimed to be created by the person who took it. I only know about that because she was silly and posted it to the ASCII art newsgroup as her own. I was active in that group. Everyone that mattered knew I had created the work. She looked like a fool. So, in that case I had my petty revenge and the thief did admit what she had done. From that I learned to stop focusing on controlling my work online. Once I put it out there it really is available, fully and completely. I just have to do what I can to protect it, which isn’t much.

I would like to see the copyright laws made to protect artist’s work online. But, I can’t see it really happening for us. For the corporations… yes. The music industry, the film industry… etc. those will be protected, as an industry. As individuals… I think we really just have ourselves and an old fashioned reliance on the honour system, good will and trust. Maybe a touch of karma, now and then.

Link with Love

LINKwithlove is the idea that by banding together in a “neighbourhood watch” type way – we, the internet, could teach and learn respect when dealing with intellectual property online. It is our dream that art, music, photography, words, design, ideas, etc – be shared in a way that is respectful, educated and kind.

This site is a collection of links to information, resources and communities that can help protect your intellectual property as a creator of online content. We at LINKwithlove.org encourage you to display one of our badges on your site or social network to show the world that you respect and LINKwithlove.

By teaching and supporting the proper ways to share intellectual property – we will make a difference.

Artists for Respect

  • Review copyright laws and be conscious about using images in your artwork that are not your own.
  • You’re pledging not to use music in your videos without consent from the recording artist. (Not even for a minute.)
  • You will not pass off someone else’s work as your own whether it be online or in person.
  • You’re pledging to respect the artist or instructor who worked hard to provide art or instruction for you.

Bookmark at the Lost and Found

Laura Page, in her blog Literary Legs, wrote about bookmarks and finding interesting things in books which she forgot she had once used as a bookmark. She likes to buy a bookmark too. I do as well, but find them a bit expensive for just a piece of cardboard. When you think of all the free stuff you can stick in a book to mark your page it seems a bit extravagant to spend $5 on a fancy bookmark. You could buy a latte instead!

I’ve found some interesting things people have left in books when I buy a secondhand book or a thrift store book. Most recent was a ticket (never used) to a classical music concert which took place in Toronto.

What have you found in a book, used as a bookmark?

Think of a situation where something really unusual is used as a bookmark. Write about it. Is it lost or found?