Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Intimidation and Inspiration

Today I am turning over my blog to Mary Moreno, freelance writer, author of The Writer’s Guide to Corporate Communications, composer and aspiring novelist.  I use the term, “aspiring,” because while she has completed two novels, she has not yet published them.  Personally, I am quite annoyed with her, because her second novel (and first mystery) features mois as a key character, and I am growing impatient with the delay.  That said, I now turn this space over to Madame Moreno:

MM:  Thank you Amadé, and let me first assure you that I am doing everything in my power to polish up the manuscript so that it is worthy of your participation – which is why the editing process is taking so long. 

Writing a mystery is way different from writing memoir-based fiction and I am still learning the craft.  I’ve been busy cutting, pruning, paring, slicing, dicing and polishing, and all that takes time.  Every time I re-read my manuscript I find something more to work on.  (Truth be told, every time my agent reads it, she find something to change, as well.)  While deadlines work well for nonfiction, for fiction they just make me nervous, resulting in too much ice cream consumption.

WA:  If I may interrupt, I do love ice cream.  Back in Vienna, I would often indulge myself as a reward after the successful premier of one of my pieces.

MM:  Yes, I know, but we are talking about ME today, not YOU.  And what I want to discuss is intimidation and inspiration, because in my case, they sometimes go hand in hand.  Or back to back.

As a composer, I listen to music for inspiration and study scores for technique.  As a writer, I read for pleasure, but also for inspiration and technique.  But sometimes I get intimidated.

When I first heard Copland’s Symphony No. 3, I said, “Why do I even bother trying?  I’m never going to write something as wonderful as that.”  Likewise, Bartok’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste. 

WA:  What about my Sinfonia Concertante?  My Prague Symphony?

MM:  YES, those, too.  The point I’m trying to make is that while I first become discouraged by these works of genius, after taking some time off for therapy (walking in the park, eating pizza)…

WA:  Pizza!

MM:  I eventually make my way back to the keyboard and give it another go, all the while chanting my mantra, “progress, not perfection.”

And so it goes with my mystery writing.  I just finished reading Michael Koryta’s So Cold the River.  This man not only knows how to weave a compelling story, the language he uses to tell it is simply astounding.  EXAMPLE:  In describing an early Indiana spring, rather than just say something like, “Spring arrived early and stayed,” he writes:  “…this year spring settled in and put up its feet, and winter didn’t have much to say about it, just a few overnight grumblings of cold rain and wind.”  After reading this and many other almost poetic passages, I put my computer to sleep and took myself to an afternoon movie.  (The Girl Who Played With Fire.)

Fortunately, I woke up the next morning with my fighting spirit and my desire to be published firmly restored.  I resolved to learn from Mr. Koryta rather than be intimidated by him.

WA:  If I may just interject, I felt quite the same as you when I first saw the manuscript for Bach’s Well Tempered Klavier.  The counterpoint can only be described as a work of genius, and yes, for a moment, I, too, was intimidated.  But only for a moment, and then I went back to my composing and indeed, I saw my work take on a new dimension, due to the inspiration awakened in me by Johann.

MM:  Exactly.  Yes, I did the same thing.  I went back to my manuscript and challenged myself to do better.  To make my words sing, rather than just sit there.

WA:  Brava, Madame!

MM:  Hold the brava’s until I've finished.  I’m not done editing yet.  Now, back to work!