Tuesday, December 1, 2015

In Which I Natter on for a Bit about Writing

This past Sunday I was happy to attend the annual performance of Handel’s Messiah by the Handel & Haydn Society of Boston. My DH and I been doing this long enough to get to know some of the returning soloists, and I was pleased that this year’s tenor soloist was James Gilchrist, whom we first heard in the Messiah a few years back. I love his voice; it has a mobile, conversational tone of great sweetness—and I don’t mean icky saccharine sweetness, but a gentle strength that conveys emotion beautifully. And his phrasing and enunciation are perfect—his every word is audible, and never gets lost. That’s a hallmark of the H&H Society’s choir as well—their diction is never, ever muddy, but always crystal clear. That clarity—that precision—makes for an amazing listening experience.

So I spent a very happy two-and-a-half hours on Sunday afternoon, listening to an exquisitely sung performance...and it got me thinking about writing (because hey, in my world, everything leads back to that.) Earlier this fall I had the privilege of getting a critique from a brilliant editor of the first twenty pages of a work in progress, and it made an enormous impression on me—enough that I’m re-editing the rest of the book based on her feedback. Her suggestion? Stripping away anything—unnecessary narrative or dialogue, too much explanation, down to one too many words in a sentence—that might get in the way of each moment when telling a story. In other words, precision and clarity.

And sitting there listening to the crystalline singing in that darkened hall, I itched for my computer so I could chip away at the extraneous matter in my stories, and achieve that same crystalline quality. And was delighted that listening to music in a dim concert hall could inform putting words on a page. Clarity. Precision. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my edits. ☺

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