I’ve Been Caught In A Trap I Set For Myself

I don’t listen to music when I write. I was going to say that I can’t, but that’s not true; I’ve worked in cafes where there’s music and, yes, it’s different and difficult and I’m slower, but it’s certainly possible. But I don’t like to do it; I get distracted and connections don’t get made the same way.

I wish that wasn’t true; I wish that I could listen to something as I type away, that my brain could split its attention and do both things at once. If nothing else, I feel like it would give me the opportunity to listen to more music than I currently do, and arguably discover new things to adore. (Spotify, I know I should hate you and your algorithms, and yet…!) In theory, it sounds like some kind of perpetual motion machine, something new entering your head as you output things from inside it. And yet…

I need, I think, to listen too much for it to work for me. Even if it’s just background noise, something will happen — some unexpected melody, a chord change, a half-understood lyric — and my concentration will be with the music, not anything else. It happens when I’m out and having conversations, too; I’ll hear something in the background and my head will go, I am interested in what you’re saying, but what is this song? What just happened?

I’m an easily distracted writer at the best of times, so you can imagine how much trouble music would be for me. But I continually wish that wasn’t the case. I see people write about what they’re listening to as they write, their soundtracks, and I get jealous. If only that could be me, if only my brain worked like that…!

Instead, I work in silence aside from the grumbles and moans I make without realizing it, and the sound of the keys as I hit them. Which, in its own way, is music of some sort.

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