I’m an amateur musician in my spare time. (Some would say very amateur!) I love to sing, and occasionally play the flute. Most of the family is musical, and as I was driving our youngest back to uni this afternoon, we talked about the love of music. Not in a lot of words, but in a few sentences that summed it all up.
He’s studying music at uni, (classical percussion) and our daughter is also a singer. And right now, let me add a vote of grateful thanks to our lovely, long suffering neighbours, who have coped with years of drum playing, singing, double bass playing, flute playing, and marimba playing.
We all love music. None of us can imagine not doing it, and that’s what we were talking about. None of us can imagine just stopping and never touching it again. Music gives wings to your thoughts and emotions, and is a skill and delight that carries you through life. It’s something that stays with you no matter whether you’re a professional or an amateur.
Years ago, I read Anne McCaffrey’s classic Pern novel Dragonsong. I remember connecting deeply with Menolly, the main character. She was a musician, an extraordinary musician, with an amazing talent for composition. At one point she described playing in a group situation as ‘like flying on a dragon!’ If you’ve ever read a Pern book, you’ll understand what that meant. If you’ve ever sung or played in a group and it’s just ‘happened’ you’ll also know what I mean.
It’s that moment when the players and singers come together as one, and the themes and harmonies become more than the sum of their parts, and you’re caught up in something bigger than yourself. Some pieces of music have this thing inbuilt, and become eternal pieces, played over and over for years. Some performers have this inherent within them, and audiences respond to it with emotion and awe, and sometimes it’s just the whole combination of composition and performers.
Sometimes I feel like I’m in the midst of an amazing symphony when I’m writing. It’s often when I feel most creative. It doesn’t always translate to the best technical writing, but it’s often the moment that another dimension gets added to my characters, or a plot bug is resolved in a second of epiphany. It’s like that one musical moment that every musician longs for. Often writing is just hard work. You have the ideas, you know where the story is going, but you have to persevere in order to make sure that the whole thing comes out like you want. It reminds me of the hours of practice a musician puts in to make sure that their pitch is perfect, their timing is spot on, and the dynamics are evocative.
Writing is about making a symphony of words. It’s about making your reader feel the emotion and become deeply involved in the stories of your characters. When it all comes together, your reader is taken on a wondrous journey full of magic and emotion.