I don't know if this holds true for many writers, but not only am I deeply influenced by things I read and see, but I'm also skewed by the music I listen to.
I listen to a lot of music.
And right now I'm in the thick of my novel, typing it out page by page. The initial grandiose feeling of beginning is over. I'm in the middle of the woods, but still on the trail, with the end still out there (I have a good idea) but I still have to make my way toward it. Word by word. Sentence by sentence.
This is exactly like mile 14 in the marathon. Actually miles 14-20. Your legs start to hurt but you are nowhere near completion. So you try to suck it up and stay motivated. And you let your thoughts wander.
In both instances, writing and running, this is where the play list comes in handy.
I've been listening to quite a few specific bands in the writing of this novel and that has influenced everything from chapter titles, the title of the book itself, to things my characters say and unexpected (for me) plot changes.
Sometimes when I start I know exactly what I'm trying to accomplish. Sometimes. But more often than not I will start with a particular idea, a random thought, a sentence I find amusing, or a weird description and I will just run with it and see where it goes. Sometimes nowhere, but sometimes I will surprise myself. This is the most rewarding part, I think, besides holding the finished product in your hands.
So I have been whittling down a specific play list for this book, and this is one of the songs. Stuck Between The Stations, by The Hold Steady. Not only is it a great song, it seems to capture all that teenage angst/wonderment that I remember from that time. And I can definitely see my main characters listening to this song.
Most everyone from Minneapolis has heard of The Hold Steady. Though they now live in Brooklyn, most of their lyrics pay tribute to this area because this is where they grew up and started the band.
My favorite line: "He loved the Golden Gophers but he hated all the drawn-out winters."