Tonight I'll turn in my short story titled Cadence. It began from a group brainstorming exercise in which we collaboratively choose five words (wicked, Tuscany, cogitate, mosey, sparingly), having no idea what these words would be used for. Once we had our list, our professor told us to create a story. We had about 15 minutes.
So we wrote. And we shared. And we laughed -- a lot.
Our homework was to use another word association creative exercise to revise the story during the week.
So we did. And we shared. And this time, we laughed less, caught offguard by how the act of revision had morphed so many of our stories into something new.
This week our second paper of the semester is due. There are four total, each can be anything we are interested in. I was still caught up in the story I began two weeks ago, so I continued that.
I found that as I revised and added more detail, it became increasingly important to me to make the reader believe it was an authentic experience. I researched Italy; found ways to insert real places and true descriptions into my little story. At some point I realized I was writing this story better when listening to classical music, so I researched Italian composers.
Then I wondered -- what if I attempted to match the mood of the story to one specific piece of music? And what if the story could be read in the time it took for the song to play to its conclusion?
I found a piece (thanks to helpful Twittermates) by Respighi: Pines Near a Catacomb. It carried exactly the soft elements with an intense burst of energy in the middle that I was looking for.
Listening to the music as I wrote made a huge difference in how I wrote. Musical terms (thanks, high school band!) started sneaking their way into my story. I paid close attention to the flow of the story, carefully attuned to what the reader might experience were they to hear this story along with the music for the first time.
It was difficult, often frustrating, and completely rewarding. I'm eager to hear my professor's response to my thinking... and thankful I pushed through to the other end of this creative experience.