September 26, 2012

Self-Exploitation, Part Two

Posted in self-exploitation tagged at 2:10 pm by Rebecca Hein

In 1997 I contracted verbally with the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra to perform the Saint-Saens Cello Concerto in April of the following year. As featured soloist, I wanted to play my very best, so I practiced like a maniac all that year.

Then, a few months before the performance, I discovered that they were planning to pay me half the agreed-upon amount. This misunderstanding and the resulting cut in my fee disheartened me, but did I practice less?

No. Redoubling my efforts, I vowed to make it the most beautiful performance of my life.

September 19, 2012

Self-exploitation, Part One

Posted in performance, publication, self-exploitation tagged , , at 12:13 pm by Rebecca Hein

Creative artists often do their work for little or no money. Writers allow their pieces to be published for no pay, and musicians perform for free.

Why do we allow ourselves to be so exploited? This question haunted me for decades until I finally saw the answer.

September 12, 2012

On Performance

Posted in performance, publication tagged , , at 12:43 pm by Rebecca Hein

Musicians are exhorted to perform whenever possible. “Play for the plumber; play for the milkman; play for your friends.”

This is sound advice. Performing isn’t like practicing because others are listening. Therefore our frame of mind is different and we have to get used to it. Only extensive experience will accomplish this.

Writers also need to adjust to publication, or the prospect of publication, which is our equivalent of performing. One excellent way to start is to write for local markets, anything from your church newsletter to your hometown paper.

This accomplishes two things: it teaches you the habit of communication, and it forces you to write for an audience. Then, when larger opportunities present themselves, you’re ready.

September 5, 2012

Slumps, Part Three

Posted in slumps in writing tagged , at 2:31 pm by Rebecca Hein

Performance is a powerful motivator for musicians. Facing a deadline, we must get our pieces into the best shape we can with no way to put off the appointed date.

Professional writers must function the same way. But what about the beginning and intermediate writer? How do you keep going when you need pressure and incentive but you’re not actually facing a publication deadline?

A critique group may or may not be the answer. The wrong group is worse than none. Yet we need to share our writing somehow, because the isolation and discouragement that hit during a slump must be overcome.

So a critique group could bring you together with a writing buddy, either by accident or by design. It’s important to realize that we’re not alone in battling through a slump and, though writers must work harder than musicians to find companions in the culture of writers, we need this support.