Drollerie Press

Drollerie Blog Tour: Rachel Olivier on music

Greetings all and welcome to the September Drollerie Blog Tour. Our theme is “music”, and Rachel Olivier is the first of the two guests I’ll be hosting for this round. Rachel is a writer, copyeditor, and proofreader with Putt Putt Productions, and keeps a blog over here.

Peek behind the fold to see what Rachel’s got to share about how music has influenced her life and her writing!

My relationship with writing and music has been a long and rambling one. I’ve wanted to write ever since I was 9 years old (and coincidentally also began playing the violin at that age).

I grew up in a musical family, having parents and grandparents who loved music, played instruments, sang, and passed that along to me and my sister. I grew up listening to everything from classical to gospel to jazz and blues, and country. I almost didn’t have room in my head for any of that “noise you kids like so much.”

I remember my first albums for my twelfth birthday: John Denver’s Greatest Hits, Simon and Garfunkel’s Parsley Sage Rosemary & Thyme, and Olivia Newton John’s Olivia.

I never thought about how innate music was to my life. It was just always there, like my desire to write. Between listening to Eileen Farrell sing Puccini on Saturday mornings while we cleaned house to making up musicals on the playground and going halfsies with my sister to buy our favorite albums from KTEL, music was a huge part of my life. In fact, it was so integral to my life I didn’t truly appreciate it.

As an adult, years later, I brought my head up long enough to breathe after college and working and clubbing. I realized that somehow I had lost my way. Even with all the clubs I was going to, all the dancing I was doing, I had cut myself off from music, or the music that made me happy; that fed me. While I spent time with creative people, I wasn’t doing any of my own creating.

I had always been one of those kids more into Bach and Irving Berlin than Boston and Journey, John Denver rather than Jon Bon Jovi. But when I finally realized I wasn’t listening to any music, I began listening to everything. I didn’t know what I liked anymore, just that club music was good to dance to, but didn’t feed all the other creative bits of me that needed feeding.

More than that, though. Along the way, I had lost sight of my dream to be a writer. I had been doing everything but write, in fact, for a while. Creatively, I felt as dry as the desert.

Only when I rediscovered my love of music, recommitted myself to writing did I discover how much music influenced my writing. I wrote what amounted to an entire book of poetry while listening to Deep Forest one summer. (On the other hand, I consider The Grateful Dead good housecleaning music these days.)

This influence is emphasized whenever I go hear a friend’s band or to hear live music. I usually end up grabbing the nearest cocktail napkin to scrawl a poem, thought, or scene. In the presence of live music, writing just happens. Knotty problems in stories I am writing and elusive moods I am trying to capture in poetry suddenly flow clear.

Recently I’ve noticed music taking another part in my writing. At least three stories I’ve written lately have protagonists who are uniquely influenced by music – either by specific songs that inform their lives, or music in general is one of their major motivations in life. That was something I hadn’t noticed until I thought about writing for this blog tour.

These days I realize how much music is not only something that I enjoy and feeds me creatively, but is also a very necessary tool in my writer toolbox.

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