Long hours but it pays well

{ Thursday, January 24, 2008 }

Maybe the reason people believe that writing is a path to money and fame is that without a dream of payoff, the effort seems insane. So here.

One of my characters is a jazz musician. Of all the characters upstairs, he's my favorite. He's a polymath. I don't know that I could ever write from his POV because his mind works so much more quickly and on so many more levels at once than mine does. I could bluff it, but anybody who's read Nabokov would know that's what I'm doing. His daughter, who is my central character, is like him. Wait and see how I figure that one out.

Anyway, I've been reading about jazz and listening to jazz and wanting to go be in places where people are playing jazz music.

And it's turning on all kinds of things in my brain about how life can be about participation instead of consumption . . . how what we create forms a space for types of responses -- for instance, the intellectual response vs. the urge to dance. What does this mean for the type of space we create when we write?

With pop music, I've listened as a consumer. I've chosen what makes my nervous system respond in pleasurable ways. When I listen again, I expect to recreate that response. But when I listen to recorded jazz, it's like I'm listening to a documentary of that moment. Not the music, but being there with the music, makes my intellect and my body respond. Also, how I hear it changes depending on the context that I bring to it -- not just musically, but what I've paid attention to in the rest of my life.

Can writing be like that? Can it create a space where a communal response is also essentially creative? Can reading be about the moment of sound and image and not about the artifact of sound and image? Can reading be like hearing jazz?

Friends, I hope I live a long time, because I feel like my ears just now opened. And all because I decided that a character plays the clarinet.

That's payday.

1 comment:

Foodie said...

What a glorious mind you have, Ann Pai. And I thank my creator that you write so I get to know that mind of yours!

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