Writing as a Performer

Breaking news: The most painful activity in the world, aside from skrewt-wrestling, is reading one’s own writing.

Actually, I take that back. It is far more painful to watch myself dance because once it’s recorded, it’s there forever. Every performance is different and unique and once it happens, you can never take it back. Conversely, once those very rare, near-perfect performances are over, they’re over . . . . It doesn’t matter how well I perform Friday night because to Saturday’s audience, Friday night didn’t exist. This is simultaneously the most frustrating and thrilling part of being a performer. Even after dancing the same show over 200 times in one summer, I had to try finding new ways to make the show better, to improve both the audience’s experience and my experience as a performer. While it might be easier to fall into a pit of stagnation after doing the same show, the same choreography, the same songs, over and over for weeks months or even years, it seems that performers who succumb to relying purely on muscle memory and repetition are the most miserable and the least exciting to watch.

With writing, I have the opportunity to “fix” what I dislike. The backspace key is a wonderful thing. Recently, however, I’ve noticed myself falling into a writing rut. I might need style consistency in Swingnacht but while working on different pieces, pieces I want to be particularly unique, I find myself slipping into my standard “satire” voice or my standard “academic” voice etc.  There’s a difference between having a distinct style and being a poor and predictable writer.

As usual, I don’t really know what I’m talking about, but on the bright side my room is clean. Also, I have a figurative row boat and am less than 2 weeks from meeting one of my best friends in the world for the very first time. Yes, you read that correctly. Yay interwebs!

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3 responses to “Writing as a Performer

  1. I know how you feel, especially the second part. But even the performance thing is something I understand, because muscle memory relates to piano as well. The only difference is that the majority of pianists *have* to rely on muscle memory, because if we don’t we’ll make mistakes. Only the very best can really escape from that, the kind of people who can sit noodling at the piano for hours and can improvise everything. These people are rare.

    The toil of a writer! I really don’t enjoy editing very much at all, and this is one of the reasons. You drive yourself *crazy* thinking about this kind of thing. At times I thought I was editing things one way, and then returning it to the original version on the next run-through. I’d get very paranoid about everything. I think the way I’d try to go about editing a full novel would be to make the process as mechanical as possible. I’d make big lists of everything I want to consider and check.

  2. What a coincidence, I’m meeting my best friend in the world of the first time in just under two weeks.

  3. Pingback: On Writing « Words Can Keel(er)

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