Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Writing is Like...

I was tagged for this meme by Ashley and the point is to come up with a metaphor for what writing is like. Here's what I came up with.

For me, writing is a symphony. Not just music. Music is something like that thing on the radio with the same four chords that repeat over and over. There's probably a steady bass and sometimes, the lyrics are pretty good.

No. Not just music. A symphony. Have you ever been to a concert? Or watched one on PBS? Something like the London Philharmonic or Boston Pops. They play the New World Symphony by Dvorak and Symphonie fantastique by Berlioz and Symphony #9 by Beethoven. They are powerful and moving pieces. There's an ebb and flow. An emotional response. Something bigger than just the music.

Have you ever looked at a musical score? Not just the sheet music that a particular instrument plays from, but the score. The thing that the conductor leads the orchestra from. There's layers and layers and pages and pages.

image taken from
Each line is for a different instrument. There's the oboe, violin, piano, harp, cello, bass, drums, viola, clarinet, flute, timpani, the list goes on and on. And every one of those instruments has several measures on one page of the conductor's score. He can see everything that should be happening at any given moment in any section of the orchestra.

And here's where the metaphor comes in. In our writing, there is an ebb and flow. An emotional response. A connection to the words that is more than just the manuscript. There is a composer (us, the writer). He holds a score. And there are layers upon layers of instruments at his disposal. He might have one line that marks out dialogue. One for setting. One for pacing. One for description. One for simile and metaphor. One for all the other tools of the writing trade. That writer is the only one who has the full score. Only we can see how everything fits together. At what moment the cymbals crash and the action pushes on and the tension rises.

We could try to play just one instrument in our manuscript. We could build a book out of passive voice and metaphor. The reader would get pretty tired of the same thing over and over again. It's only when each element combines that the music of our writing becomes more than just words on the page. And hopefully, as we turn each page in our score filled with lines, the music that we play reaches the souls of the reader like listening to a symphony.

I'm supposed to tag three people to share their own metaphors of what writing is like. I choose:

Kristi Chestnutt at Random Daily Thoughts
Aurora Smith at Read My Book, Lose Ten Pounds
Jess at Falling Leaflets

So, friends, what is writing like for you?


Stephanie McGee said...

Very nice. I love classical concerts. When I was on study abroad, I tried to go to as many as I could. Great post!

KaseyQ said...

Beautiful! Brava, maestra!!

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

scores are amazing. conductors are amazing for being to keep track of it all!

Kay Theodoratus said...

Sorry, I'm not as lyrical as you are. For me writing is scratching an itch.

Jess said...

I love your metaphor and the way you explain it! Thanks for tagging me :)

Kristi said...

I too love your metaphor! AND thanks for tagging me, I can't wait to post mine. (Hopefully this Friday)

Hope your week is going well!

cherie said...

Lovely! I've added your meme to my list: