The Writer Is A Symphony Conductor
The Music of Life
“God comes to us in theater in the way we communicate with each other, whether it be a symphony orchestra, or a wonderful ballet, or a beautiful painting, or a play. It's a way of expressing our humanity.”
A way of expressing our humanity! What a beautiful thought.
The conductor stands before his orchestra.
Directly before him are the strings, the violins, the violas, the cellos, harps and double basses. Behind them are the woodwinds, the flutes, oboes, clarinets, saxophones and bassoons. Then comes the brass family, the trumpets, trombones, French horns and tubas; and finally the percussion group, the bass drums, snare drums, and cymbals, small in number but loudest by nature.
All work in harmony. All are crucial to the movements of the symphony. All have specific tasks to perform, no task more important than the others, all tasks blended together to achieve the perfect expression, and the conductor understands this truth well. It is his job to find the perfect mix. It is his job to take a piece of music and to interpret it in such a way that the composer is not compromised and yet the music on this night has a distinct signature unlike any other.
And so it is with the writer.
The Writer’s Instruments
The writer sits before his keyboard.
Before him sits his orchestra. The verbs sit patiently, ready to take action where action is required. The nouns are close by, always in accompaniment with the verbs, always leading the way but going nowhere without them. The adjectives provided color, size and shape to the piece, and the adverbs, off to the side, are rarely used except in those rare moments when only their magic will suffice.
The pronouns, prepositions and conjunctions all play their part, for what would a sentence be without them, and holy cow, the interjections provide brashness and exclamation to it all.
On the podium before the conductor sits an idea. It certainly is not original in nature, for most ideas are simply a regurgitation of earlier thoughts, but in the mind and heart of the writer, that idea will take on a whole new persona, will spread its wings and fly higher than any before it.
The audience sits in quiet anticipation, awaiting the magical moment when another writer, sentenced to a life of solitude and inner-doubts, will finally tap his baton and bring to life that idea.
It is pure magic!
I always enjoy listening to King's thoughts on writing
An important book to own
Are You a Writer?
If so then this is your quest. You have all that you need. 171,476 words currently available; add to that 47,156 obsolete words, tossed aside on the junk heap of the English language but still perfectly usable. The combinations are practically unlimited. The only limitations that exist are in your mind. Take a sentence, any sentence, and toss it in the air. Mix and match ; sprinkle in a metaphor here and a simile there, and add your own unique voice. Mary had a little lamb. The little lamb was Mary’s. There was a little lamb and it was Mary’s. Little like a lamb, merry like Mary, the little lamb was merry Mary’s. A lamb so small, like a tiny acorn in a forest of old-growth, waiting for sustenance that only Mary could provide.
And so it goes for the writer.
He seeks inspiration from near and far, a postcard here, a song there, a distant memory that fuels his thoughts and drives the pistons of his mind. He shuts out all thoughts other than the story at hand. He forgets to eat, barely notices the change of seasons; continues to plunge forward into the icy waters of rejection and hopes to emerge unscathed and enriched. He is single-minded in his journey. He seeks the Holy Grail of writing, a piece so vibrant, so magical, so memorable and so captivating as to become his legacy, his work of art, his Mona Lisa for all to enjoy long after his death.
He calls on his orchestra. He calls on his experience and the culmination of a life well-lived. He breathes life into it; his blood flows through it. He sheds tears and cries out in frustration, for perfection will always be one verb away, one noun in distance, one damn phrase he should have thought of but once again lost in translation.
What is the longest journey any writer will ever take? From his mind to the finished product, a journey that spans a lifetime of hopes and dreams but can never properly be captured by words.
But still he tries, for he is the conductor, and his orchestra awaits his interpretation.
More helpful thoughts from a pro
Are You Ready to Begin?
“It's been a thrilling journey - I have had to really learn that an orchestra is an entity - it's a creature. I have been calling it the dragon and the conductor is the dragon tamer. And you just have to... ride and don't let go and you will be fine.”
Your orchestra awaits you.
Yes, there will be doubts. Yes, there will be agonizing moments of writer’s block. Yes, there will be detractors who will tear you down, and naysayers who will say you cannot possibly make it.
Tell them all, in the words of my British friends, to bugger off, for you are the conductor and this is your stage. The instruments are finely tuned. The sound system has been wired to perfection. The audience is in dire need of entertainment, enlightenment and yes, escape. The acoustics are heavenly and your talent is limitless.
Pick up the baton, the same one used by Shakespeare, Blake, Hemingway and Lee. They won’t mind if you use theirs; in fact, they left it specifically for you to use, provided you use it with respect and care, for this is a sacred bequest. Within that baton are the words that launched revolutions. Within that baton are the words that created change, shook establishments and bridged gaps between nationalities. When comfort was needed that baton provided it. When encouragement, laughter and an ass-kicking was needed, that baton came through. It is yours now, so use it wisely and use it often.
And when your days are done; when the last verb and noun have been used by you; when you no longer feel you can provide the gifts within you, then pass the baton on to the next generation of symphony orchestra conductors. Show them how to use it. Teach them its special powers. Impress upon them the sanctity of this journey, and tell them that you are entrusting them with a blessed legacy very few will experience.
This, then, is your orchestra.
You, then, are the conductor.
Are you ready?
Then play, maestro, play!
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”