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.

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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.

May 30, 2012

The Dual Nature of Performance, Part Four

Posted in performance, Practice Writing, self-consciousness tagged at 2:30 pm by Rebecca Hein

Seasoned musicians know that even the most thorough practicing can’t prepare them for the spontaneity of a performance. This is both good and bad, of course, because all your preparations insure you as much as possible against the accidents that can occur in front of an audience. Yet you want an element of unpredictability or your performance will be dull.

In writing, when we know that an editor or agent will be reading our work, we freeze. Yet with enough practice at writing in this self-conscious state, we learn that the fun of storytelling and ideas can take over and even produce some of our best work precisely because we know somebody will be “listening.”

May 23, 2012

The Dual Nature of Performance, Part Three

Posted in performance tagged at 7:46 am by Rebecca Hein

The essence of performance or publication is how to make the most of the excitement of it so that you aren’t bothered by nervousness or self-consciousness. Practice and experience are the traditional route, and young musicians are exhorted never to miss a chance to play for anyone, even the plumber.

The more you face up to a difficult task, the easier it becomes. Yet the burst of energy we feel when we know that someone else will be reading what we write isn’t all that manageable. Sometimes we just have to ride that wave and let it take us where it goes.

May 9, 2012

The Dual Nature of Performance, Part One

Posted in performance, self-consciousness, Writer's Block tagged , at 4:37 am by Rebecca Hein

Excitement or stage fright: which is it going to be? In musical performance, often I don’t know until I’m in front of the audience.

Even if I’ve been nervous beforehand, sometimes I’m rock-solid onstage, and my playing has that sparkle of energy that hardly ever occurs in practicing because nobody’s listening.