~ Hazel Harps On

Squeezing, Squishing and Specifics

Sometimes there are just too many possibilities. August was so jam-packed for me it’s hard to know what to pick out for a blog. The novel edits? The singing course in a mud-and-turf field centre in Gloucestershire? The harp and Hummingbirds concerts in Somerset and Cambridgeshire? The Writers’ Summer School in Derbyshire? All were big learning curves and I could go on and on. But blogs shouldn’t be too long.

I have to touch on the singing course ('Colours of the Voice' led by Michael Deason-Barrow) because it was such an eye-opener. We tried an array of different styles: popular belt, breathy-girly, gravelly jazz and pure-tone early classical, to name but a few. We covered various vocal techniques including the creak, the slide, three types of vibrato and voice-flipping between registers. Of course I didn’t become an expert in any of these but it was a taster and it showed me that I’m not just stuck with my rather high, choiry-sounding voice. I have many, many possible voices. I just need to pick one (OK, maybe two. Possibly, if I’m lucky and work hard, three) and practise. Choices, choices!

I also have to mention Swanwick.

(Here's a photo from last year because I was too busy to go around snapping this year!)

Unfortunately I could only stretch to two and a bit days out of the week, but wow, I squeezed in a lot. There were so many writing friends to catch up with, courses and excellent speakers, not to mention my own workshop. That in itself involved considerable squeezing, both literally and metaphorically. Some 85 writers turned up so extra chairs were needed (I wasn’t scared at all. Oh – my nose has just grown an inch longer!). I’d entitled the workshop ‘Editing Essentials’ because I knew in an hour there would only be time to cover the bare basics, but I was still determined to squish in as much information as I could. Inevitably I myself ended up editing as I went along and had to cut some of the good bits. But I threw in plenty of specific examples that I hoped would be useful. And, judging by the generous feedback afterwards, they were!

Information overload, decision overload, experience overload, emotional overload - they’re all common these days. Socrates’ warning ‘Beware the barrenness of a busy life’ is as relevant as ever. Alas, we can never do all the things we’d like to do. It physically isn’t possible. But it IS possible to choose a few specifics, in music, in writing or whatever… and make them as damn-well fabulous as we possibly can!

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