The size of a story


Stories are funny creatures. They can live in a single picture, or in a book several inches thick, and they are no less powerful for their brevity or length if told well. A picture is worth a thousand words, we’re told… Some are worth more than that. But we don’t need a thousand words to tell a story.

What I quite love are stories inside music videos, believe it or not. Music videos are an art form in their own right, and they are perfectly capable of telling beautiful, strange, touching stories. The most memorable ones are usually ones that linger on the strength of the story they tell. We have a deeper connection to narratives, far more than music on its own.

One of the greatest hits of the 80s: A-Ha, Take On Me. It was also an artistic accomplishment at the time, due to the heavy use of rotoscoping.

Now here’s something unusual: Snow Patrol, Take Back the City. This isn’t actually the official music video for the song. It’s the winner of a competition to make a music video for the song. I particularly love it because it’s not just telling the story of some guy’s night, it’s also telling the story of the city itself.

And this is WALK THE MOON, with Shut up and Dance. This has so many 80s callbacks that I can’t help loving it as is, but it’s also telling a weird, trippy little story all on its own, and having so much fun doing it. You just have to appreciate that kind of artistry.

I love music that makes me feel happy. Hope you’re all going into a good weekend, and you have music that makes you happy too.


Strange music

Here’s a question for you: what music do you write to?

Some people don’t write to anything and consider it a distraction. Me, I like to have a soundtrack for my stories – it sort of makes them more real, inside the bizarre playground of my head.

The best kind of soundtrack, though, is other people. Strangely enough, I write best when I’m surrounded by strangers. The sound of people who are disconnected from me is like a nice kind of muse-inducing white noise. The sound of people I know, of course, makes me uncomfortable because I should really be paying attention to them instead of writing.

Writing is such an anti-social pursuit.

So is reading, but writing is the grand-daddy of it all. Reading, at least, is a universal thing that you have a good chance of being able to talk to anyone about, if you live in a country with regular Internet access. Writing, though, is nonsensical to anyone but other writers.

So other writers will know what I mean by strange music. They’ll know about the need to be disconnected from the world in order to write about the worlds in their head. Music helps some of us and hinders others, but we all do what we have to do to get into the writing space.

So you may ask – what music does Shay, a writer of porn and lover of Renaissance paintings, listen to in order to get into the erotica space?

The answer, my esteemed friend, is pop music.

Beyoncé, P!nk, Mika… anything bright and happy is my preferred style. I need the feeling more than the actual meaning, and I don’t really listen to the lyrics much.

Gangnam Style? Oh, I was all over that. Totally my bag, baby.

This, of course, means that I have nothing but the deepest kind of contempt for dubstep. Sorry, dubstep fans. It’s noise, and annoying noise at that, to the ear of someone raised on ’80s hair metal.

In my actual writing, I like electronica – but that requires a different kind of feeling. The writing I do as my real self is… less exciting than erotica. It needs a smoother, deeper kind of sound, so I dig a lot of rock instrumental stuff. Ronald Jenkees, don’cher’know, and if you don’t, get on Youtube and marvel at that guy’s mad piano skills. I started to learn how to play the piano because of him.

Oh, did I not mention that? I play piano. And guitar. And about four other instruments you’ve never heard of. Still can’t read music, unfortunately, and I sometimes wonder how my life would have turned out if I’d put all my writing chops into learning music instead.

Wait until I’m drunk and then put a guitar in my hands, and hilarity shall ensure. (No, not Stairway to Heaven played as a polka; I refuse to learn that damn song on principle.)

In other writing-related news – because I’m still filing everything under News, go figure – I’m starting to feel like myself again. I think I’ll have the next story published by next week. Boy-on-boy action a go go!


Erotica music

So I normally listen to music when I write. This poses a somewhat interesting question when I write erotica: do I break out the porn music, or the cheesy love songs, or something to do with the story itself, like heavy metal in the case of Kathy’s World?

It is a knotty problem. Of late I’ve just been shuffling through whatever shows up first in my collection. It’s produced some very odd combinations, however, because I really like old rock – so I end up trying to write sexytimes to the tune of Dr. Feelgood by Motley Crüe.

Gotta say I’m largely okay with this, but I have to wonder what other erotica writers use to get in the mood.