02 November 2009

In Which Our Hero Shamelessly Compares Himself to Mozart.

Sitting in "my office", a little third-floor table near a wall outlet under some lovely track lighting here on campus, I am about to write my third paper for Core Humanities, hoping all the while that my professor will look as kindly upon it as he has on my previous two papers for the class. However, when I say "about to write", it would be more accurate for me simply to say "about to commit to paper four pages' worth of stuff I've already written, edited, scrapped, re-written, and composed in my head." Almost no actual writing will take place over the next hour; it is merely a typist's challenge from here out combined with some on-the-fly copy editing as things that looked better in my head get cleaned up on the page.

Students of the life of one Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart may recognize the writing process here. Mozart composed his symphonies in his head long before he put hand to piano or note to staff on the written page. Entire movements would write and edit themselves in his mind, always in a technical style that was his own and that listeners long after the man's death in 1791 can recognize. It was as though Mozart were divinely inspired.

Meanwhile, I make no illusions as to the long-lasting nature of any scrawl I dare call literature, nor do I think for a second that anyone will praise my name two centuries or more after I'm dead. But the thought process is exactly the same. I compose papers, essays, blog posts, and what-have-you in my head and the richness of the orchestra plays itself out in my mind (who would read the audiobook of CPA By Forty, anyway? Thurl Ravenscroft is dead, otherwise he'd be my first choice...Patrick Stewart? James Earl Jones?). Once it's composed it's a simple matter of firing up the computer and getting the thing set to print. I only hope that for the reader it's more Mozart than, say, Insane Clown Posse or Miley Cyrus. I'd have to run myself through with a wakizashi if my writing were as insubstantial as pop music.


  1. You are not the only one that does that. Why do you think it takes me a couple of days to put together a good SHADDAP? I need processing time and I need to come up with an approach, solution and phrasing to get things across. This can take a few days. When I've rolled it around enough, I sit down and write.

    This drives The Boy nuts. He too can roll out a few thousand words of bumph in an hour or so, but it's all based on some fairly immovable parameters. He writes a lot of proposals, what can I say?

    Writing essays is a matter of practice, it can be learned, but most people can't just reel off whatever it is we need to like you and I (and Schuyler and Smag, among a few others) can. They need to work it more on paper (or screen).

    I know people for whom writing it utterly tortuous. It's agony for them to put stuff on paper.

  2. One reason I like writing TL;DR Prudence so damn much is that fifteen words is about the length of my typical gut reply to any situation. The Thursday editions usually take me about 10 minutes to write, the Monday editions take closer to half an hour (except today's; I was so committed to the theme that I really racked my brain for a few of them and it took a solid sixty minutes to write and edit it all down.)

    I find the first five words to be the hardest five to write no matter how long the essay/piece will ultimately be. It's like vomiting. Once the first bit clears the stomach's event horizon, everything else is going to follow it naturally.

  3. I think I'd listen to your audiobook. Especially if it was voiced by Patrick Stewart. :)

  4. Sounds like you write papers the same way I do ~ I have to rethink and rework term papers almost endlessly. I've always been a little envious of my Dad, who could do his research for a paper then sit down and write it and almost never need to make any revisions.

  5. I like your use of "event horizon" here, Fox. When I was younger and more full of the vim and vigor, I'd call that spot where (when you're walking behind a really fit girl, where the top of her legs don't meet) her rear end curves under, between her legs, and then disappears*, the event horizon. I used to think I was clever.

    *This would be where the inseams meet, but, from behind, it's a special spot. Ah, youth...

  6. If CPA by 40 were to become, say, a musical, I'd definitely go with Brian Stokes Mitchell.

  7. Right now, I have no less than three books bouncing around my brain at the moment. Each one I edit mentally until it's ready for me to actually write. If I try to get ahead of myself, things generally get garbled and lots of revision happens. Did the same thing with my essays in college.

    And my vote is to get James Earl Jones to do the introduction of your audio book, and then let Patrick Stewart read the rest. It'll be a good balance.

  8. CPA, neat way to write!
    I tend to try to do the same thing, but when I start to actually write, the words seem to take on a life of their own. It's as if they had secrets which they only reveal when put on paper.... (I'm a slow writer, what can I say! Except when posting, then my fingers can't move fast enough!)


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