Alice’s Restaurant

February 24, 2007

Drumming

Filed under: Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 1:47 pm

I play hand drums.

Conga, ashiko, djembe, djum djum <yes I know it’s not technically a hand drum>, I’ve even tried my hand at bongos, talking drum, water drums, baudran, and Native American style flat drums.  I’m not particularly proficient at any of them, but I know 6 hand positions for conga, three or four songs, and am reasonably comfortable with 6/8 time.  I can handle most drummer’s circles without embarrassing myself.

Drumming in a circle has a certain magic.  When you are in synch with the other drummers, playing a rhythm that makes sense with what others are playing but isn’t exactly the same as anyone else, the energy level goes up.  When I’m in synch, I can literally drum all day.  When I’m in synch I can loose my sense of self, trade it in on a sense of the divine and eternal and community.  When I’m out of synch the energy drains away fast.  I can be completely worn out in 10 minutes when the rhythms won’t pull together.  Out of synch, I come away from a drummer’s circle feeling isolated and unwelcome.

So what does this have to do with writing?

Both drumming and writing have something to do with energy flow.  Both are easily isolating activities that can be used to connect one to a sense of community.  Both are activities that those who aren’t engaged in can’t really understand.

This blog brought the connection to mind.  I tell myself I should work head, particularly in the Suzie blog.  Supposedly I could get a week’s worth of blogs out of the way in a day then simply post them at the appropriate time.

It doesn’t work that way for me.  I struggle to come up with something to say when I try to work ahead.  I can get bits and fragments of ideas done, but not finished posts.  When I am responding to what someone has said on another blog, or in FanLit Forever, or in my crit group, or one of my boards the words simply flow.

Like echoing or reinforcing someone else’s beat, writing my blog as I go draws me in and sustains me.

On the other hand, Suzie is a perpetual rough draft.  I can’t get the kind of distance from my own words that makes it easier to edit because I’m frequently coming up with the last of those words minutes before I post.  Some weeks I’m not even sure what I will write about when Friday arrives.  It’s performance art in a field where one of the greatest benefits is the time to fix your mistakes before anyone knows about them.

So when I come up with a lame Suzie, please forgive me.  I never know how it’s going to come out until it’s out.

Alice

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