Friday, January 22, 2010

Marching Band = Sport = Writing

In case you haven't noticed, I'm a college student. I'm actually a junior English major, a horn and cello player, and a worker at library circulation desk. I am a very busy little bee.

I have class every day, with Mondays and Tuesdays being my busiest days and Thursday coming in a close second. I work 7 hours every other week and 21 the opposite weeks as well as having 5 classes, an hour horn lesson every week, and a 30 minute cello lesson every week. I am also a member of a women's music fraternity which meets every Tuesday night for at least 2 hours, and has smaller meetings every now and then as well as events.

I do my best to find time to write, but lately I've just been exhausted trying to make it through a day at a time. I'm not writing this post to make excuses or complain; I just want to get all of that out there so you all know what I'm working with.

Writing takes time. It takes effort. It takes a whole lot of determination. Writing is a sport. No really, it's like marching band (which is totally a sport and should absolutely get PE credit. I mean if cheerleaders get to call jumping around and shouting a sport, then so should the marching band. I don't mean any offense to cheerleaders, but I lost 15 lbs when I got to college and started marching. It's intense, and it was just as bad in high school and junior high. No joke.).

So, marching band and writing, right. In band you get a drill sheet, which is basically the outline for a picture the band is going to make by reaching the right spot at the right time in the music. You drill this over and over and over until you no longer need to leave a marker in your spot. You just go to it. Every time. And you do it over 20 times (usually for a single song and you'll play a good 3-4 songs for a show). This is completely separate from the music at first, but you can't have a show if you don't have music, just as you can't have a show with music only. They're both essential. Just like so many things in writing.

You can tell a story all you want, but if you don't have great characters, real characters, you don't have a book. You can have the best characters in the world; real, flawed, deep characters, but what good are they without a story. You need plot and setting and characterization and all kinds of things to make a piece of fiction (or non-fiction for that matter) work. And if you're missing just one of those things, or you're weak in one spot, it will throw the entire piece off balance.

If your trumpet section is weak, more than likely your melody is going to get lost in a sea of other parts. If one trombone player is out of step, it will throw someone else off, or it will look bad to someone watching, especially a judge. If the interval is off between two people, not only is there a gap in the overall formation, but it means that person is either going to have to work even harder to get to their next spot, or they're going to miss the next spot too, and the next one...

My point is that writing is complicated. It's hard work. It's a sport in and of itself. And it takes practice to get good at. You have to work at it every chance you get. You have to want to write. You have to love it, because if you don't then why are doing it?

Now then, I'm going to go watch the latest episodes of Bones and Supernatural (squee!!) and then try to get some more writing in myself before I call it a night. Happy writing, or just have a good weekend (whichever works for you).

PS- I think that's the first marching band analogy I've ever seen haha. :)


Jonathon Arntson said...

Well, we appreciate you making the time to write on here! Good luck with getting some writing in...ugh.

Suzette Saxton said...

Your first sentence had me laughing! Great post, and so true.

KristinKaye said...

Everything is a little bit of everything isn't it? In social theory we've been developing our claim to sociology being a science. It's just that legit. :)


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