Until the water runs clear

Dear Ones, Hello and welcome to Muse Echo, the mid week blog about the creative process, works completed, in progress, what I was thinking....etc.

It is customary for me to write several versions of the same piece. I call them generations.

For a while I had a sticky note up on my wall in clear sight of where I often sit to compose which said, "Until the water runs clear" which was in reference to Beethoven talking about the revision process. He likened composing to pumping water from a well. You just keep working and working and pumping that well. When you write, you discern if the water is muddy or clear. You keep pumping, working and revising until the water runs clears.

So true.

What I've found is that the deepest, clearest, most refreshing and delicious water is further down. It's worth the patience and the effort.

Sometimes I just tinker and tweak what I've written. Sometimes I revise it heavily. Often what I do is get it as best I can - knowing it's a bit muddy only to SHRED IT - or crumple it and burn it - then start all over knowing that I have further to go.

Yesterday, I took many pages of composing and shredded it. I shredded everything I had written for my Love Birds trio for flute, oboe and bassoon.

Personally, I require that each new work is better than the last - what ever that means to me. I raise the bar, I raise my standards and I delight in making myself destroy what I know in my deepest gut to not be my best work. I need crystal clear water deeper than from before.

It is not uncommon for me to work on a piece for a long time, shred it, then zip through the final version. BUT it also is not uncommon for me to shred the same titled composition a few times, until I get the generation that has that special something magical.

I'm not advocating this course of action for any and all composers BTW - this is just how I operate - often but not always.

Sometimes, I'll write a piece, get it to a point where I feel really good about it, let it sit, then return to it months later only to change, preen, tinker or destroy and start anew.

This Love Birds Trio has been such a peek a boo piece with many starts and stops. I've returned to it a few times (after working on other pieces)  realizing that my composing has evolved and I'm not where I was when I started. The different movements, while all related, were OK - but I rather do better than OK .... SO -

I'm curious what I'll create now - I'm rethinking, re structuring the piece - however, the gist is the same. What I was exploring yesterday was clearly a higher level of older material from before.

There have been a couple of times when I find pages that I've missed destroying after I'm finished with a work only to be amazed at the thread of resemblance from a prior version. It's like seeing the lineage of the grandmother, in the chosen grandchild - if you follow.

In life, I'm in a different book let alone different chapter now. - new period - I'm in uncharted territory as I start over...and I really want to get this work behind me. It is the first time I've shredded and started over in a "new period". Hmmmmmm

To the muse,
Kathryn