Fishing for Africa

If somebody asked me to play a song that everyone would like I’d probably play Africa by Toto. That’s a link right there, I’ll wait the 4:55 until you get back.

When I’m writing a game I almost always base it on a single thing or idea and let it build outwards from that. My mother told me about going to the Shogun’s Palace in Kyoto and about the nightingale floor in Nijo Castle. From that single idea I built a Mage the Ascension game that ran for a couple of years.

As a result I’m really interested in reading pieces written by authors and songwriters about how their works came to be. Almost universally there’s this notion that ideas are swirling around and you just have to grab them and then let yourself be open to where the idea wants to go.

In this clip Noel Gallagher describes the process perfectly, particularly the truism that “you have to go fishing to catch a fish” and today I read a great piece in The Guardian about the writing of Toto’s Africa that really dug into that process.

I’d just got a new keyboard. It made this brassy sound and the moment I started playing it, I had what would become the opening riff to Africa. Then I hummed a melody and by the time I got to the chorus, I had words. “Hang on,” I thought. “I’m a talented songwriter but I’m not this talented!” It was as if a higher power was writing through me, because this stuff was coming out like magic.

David Paich

It’s a great read for anyone who aspires to write.