Wednesday, March 01, 2006

In Which The Author Decides to Write a Book By Blogging

I'm supposedly writing a book on improvisation for classical musicians, especially classical musicians who have never improvised before.

I say "supposedly" because while I've done a lot of research in to material written about improvisation, done a lot of improvising, taught improvisation and led workshops, and attended even more workshops, especially Music for People workshops, than I've led, and written a very extensive outline of the book . . .

. . . I haven't written much.

So I've decided to follow Greg Sandow's lead (his book is here) and try writing my book online by blogging it.

This has what I hope will be a number of advantages. First, blogging is much less intimidating, for some reason, than "writing a book." When I try to go into write-the-book mode, my inner critic(s) go into hyperdrive. It's not good enough. It's not good enough. (The theme song of my inner life.) Blogging is just, well, blogging. Short little improvisations. (OK, I rarely if ever write genuinely "short little" blog entries.) Sketches. Which don't have to be terribly well organized. (Which is how "well" I do organizing, anyway--terribly.)

Second, it creates the opportunity to get feedback, including suggestions and constructive criticsm, from readers. And perhaps some encouragement as well.

There is something, well, fun about blogging. I think it appeals to my need for instant gratification. Write a bit, click, and presto! it's published online for all the world to read.

The instantaneous nature of blogging is also a good antidote to perfectionistic procrastination. I've tried writing this book a number of times over the last ten years. I write and then disown what I've written (same thing happens when I try to make a CD of original music). So writing by blogging gets me to not just write, but not hide what I've written.

I'm not a scholar. I'm a pleasantly narcissistic performer. One thing that had me stuck until recently with the book is that it seemed to want to be two books: both a "how to" guide for a classical musician interested in improvisation, and a memoir of my experiences with improvisation. Improvisation has been an integral part of my growth as a human being over the last decade or more. It's a story I am ready to, and seem to need to, tell.

And, since I'm not a scholarly, objective "writer," I write best as what I am: an introspective, self-reflective musician who likes to write about his own experiences.

The teacher in me is happy to write the "how to" instructions as well. Perhaps I'm writing two books. Perhaps I'm writing a book that's a memoir interspersed with "how to" chapters--much like some memoirs by chefs.

Blogging from both perpectives, the memoirist and the "how to" teacher, will allow me to write what wants to be written and let it sort itself out.

So that's what I'm doing. And the first post on the new blog is up.

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