Tag: writers

The gloves are off!

Many Australian eyes will be on Barack Obama’s Inauguration to the White House on Tuesday the 20th January.

But Tuesday marks a far more important date for Australian readers and writers.

It’s D-day for submissions to the Australian Government Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the lifting of Copyright Restrictions on the Parallel Importation of Books into Australia. The last chance for you to voice your concern about this possibility.

Publishing industries shake their collective heads in dismay and disbelief – how can this be the sixth time this battle has been fought? Independent booksellers wonder where it will all lead – they’d only hoped for an overhaul of the 30-day rule on the restrictions.

Authors who fear for their livelihoods cope in different ways – some are out there fighting against it, some can’t face the thought of getting involved in politics (and that is exactly what this is), some feel disempowered by the might of the forces lined up against Australian writing.

The main players supporting the scrapping of Copyright Restrictions appear to be the huge book-selling chains – Dymocks, Woolworths and Myers; Bob Carr (ex-Premier of NSW and director of Dymocks); and individuals who support the free market (from all political persuasions, State and Federal government Treasuries and Competition Commissions).

This issue reared its head for the sixth time at the Premiers’ conference last July. It was never debated; it slipped through and was signed off on by all Premiers. Sydney Morning Herald journalist and author, David Marr writes of how Mike Rann, Premier of South Australia was ‘surprised to find, on closer examination, a dozen or so words on page 14 about another inquiry into the book trade. The initiative came from the Commonwealth Treasure via a new group of state and federal officials…’

New Zealand lifted their Parallel Importation restrictions 10 years ago. Want to know what’s ahead for Australia if restrictions are lifted to allow a ‘free-for-all’?

Go to the New Zealand Society of Authors submission to the Australian Productivity Commission – http://www.pc.gov.au/projects/study/books/submissions

This is what Australia faces in the years ahead.

If you haven’t sent your submission to the Productivity Commission, now is your last chance.

The gloves are off in this debate – I suggest further steps:

  1. Talk or write to your local politician about this issue.
  2. Write to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
  3. Write to the Minister of Arts, Peter Garrett.

If the Productivity Commissions decides in favour of lifting Parallel Imports on Books, I (and many others) will be boycotting the books sold by Dymocks, Myers and Woolworths.

As David Marr says, ‘that’s when the political brawls in defence of the nation’s biggest cultural industry will begin.’

Music to write by?

Do you listen to music while you write? A Mozart sonata? John Coltrane’s sax or some classic Miles Davis? A bit of the Cuban touch? Coldplay‘s lastest CD? Or soundtracks from your favourite movies?

It could be that, to work successfully, you need a blur of background sound to keep away the silence. Or is it deliberately chosen music that fits the mood of the piece you’re writing? Or do you prefer silence?

I’ve asked some writers their preferences….

New Zealand author, Brian Falkner has a very definite way of working – he finds a specific piece of music that reflects the kind of emotion in the scene he’s writing. If it’s an important or emotional scene, he sometimes spends as much time trying to find an appropriate piece of music as he does writing the scene. (See Brian’s website on the sidebar)

I find that the right music can not only affect you emotionally while you are writing, but it can also bring imagery to mind that you can use in the scene.’  Usually he uses the music choice once because then it’s become tied to that particular book and scene in his mind.

Here’re some of Brian’s choices, (if you know the music you can imagine the scene he’s writing):
1812 Overture / Barber’s Adagio for Strings  / Quidam (Almost the entire album) – Cirque du Soleil  /  Firebird Suite – Stravinsky  /  Night on Bald Mountain – Mussorgsky  /  Ave Maria – Schubert  /  Oh, Fortuna – Orff /  The Swan – Saint-Saëns

Australian author, Claire Saxby finds music keeps her going if she’s writing something new, and it tunes out ambient noise. She says beat music will keep the words flying. Favourite titles include Augie March’s two albums, The Frames (Irish band), Waifs, Cat Empire, Paul Kelly. Familiar albums allow for subliminally absorbing – so much so, often she doesn’t notice them finish.

Michael Bauer, a fellow Ashgrovian, and the author of the splendid story, The Running Man (and others), confesses to needing silence when he works because he’s easily distracted. ‘I thought I’d give it a go so I put on a cd but I couldn’t write a thing because I kept listening to the music! Maybe I just didn’t pick the right songs?’

Michael does have a point – there is music it’s impossible to write by – I’ve tried it. The latest I’ve tried is a Christmas gift from my sister in Washington – called Rhythms Del Mundo CUBA. A collection of musicians, from Coldplay, Sting, Artic Monkeys, to Quincy Jones and Ibraham Ferrer (from The Buena Vista Social Club) and others, playing their music with a Cuban influence – all with the intent of raising funds and awareness about climate change. Great music! But why is it impossible to write by? How can one key words when one is too busy salsa-ing?

My favourites to write by depend on what I’m working on…  if it’s an action scene or dramatic dialogue, then it’s the soundtrack from The Lord of the Rings – especially when the orcish army is storming Helm’s Deep. For background music, I’m back in my Celtic ancestry with any of five Loreena McKennitt CDs. Or Paul Kelly’s Songs from The South.

P.S. My favourite Music quotes:
‘Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom.  If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.’  ~Charlie Parker
‘Life can’t be all bad when for ten dollars you can buy all the Beethoven sonatas and listen to them for ten years.’  ~William F. Buckley, Jr.

So, do you have music favourites to work by? Love to hear your choices.

Here’s a video of Rhythms del Mundo CUBA – enjoy!