~ Hazel Harps On

Hesitation, Repetition And Deviation

Most people reading this will immediately know that my blog title refers to Radio 4’s programme, Just A Minute. Here's a fact: I’d be absolutely useless if ever I was on the show. To talk, even for 60 seconds, without hesitation, repetition or deviation? I’d lose points straight away by starting with an Ummm… errrr…

I’ve been doing quite a few Zoom events recently and have noticed a massive tendency to umm and err, even if I do know (as occasionally happens) what I’m talking about. However, thinking more broadly, hesitation can sometimes be a good thing. The lockdowns we’ve experienced over the past year have forced us to stop and review the situation. A lot of people, including me, will be questioning what is really worthwhile and how we should better spend our time in the future.

Stopping to think is surely healthy. It has been a vital element in my current writing project. If I just carried on splurging out words without ever standing back to ponder what’s good, what’s bad and where I should go next, my writing would be fast but very bad. Speed really isn’t of the essence. Same goes for the harp practise. I’ve been unable to perform for so long now that I’m thinking well, perhaps there are other ways to bring harp to people without playing live: recordings, videos and such-like. There's a lot of potential there, which I probably would have dismissed before but now I'm actually quite excited about.

Then there’s repetition. Repetition. Repetition, Repetition. This is so important (so important, so important – see what I did there?) in both writing and music. Even though I remember tunes quickly in my head I would never be able to get them into my muscle memory without going over them many times. Multiple repetitions make them become natural and fluid - so important for any music, but especially for harp music.

As for the writing, you wouldn’t believe the number of times you have to go over a novel. Each chapter, each scene, each paragraph, each sentence; honing and adding and subtracting again and again as it ever edges closer to what you want it to be. This is the voice of experience here, and please know that over the last month I have been writing so hard that I am now suffering from writers’ neck, writers’ back, writers’ eyes, writers’ wrist and writers’ brain!

As for deviation, to wander away from your plan is possibly scary but probably wise. Often it leads to new discoveries. Even if you end up going where you don’t want to go, it often shows you far more clearly where you do want to go.

And this brings me on to a change in direction for me regarding websites and blogs. Until now I’ve happily incorporated both writing and harping onto one website, but they are very different things and I’ve decided they deserve a website each. So I’ll continue here at with my harping hat on, but if you want to find me in my writing hat, please look out for the forthcoming I may or may not continue blogging. I am thinking of starting up a newsletter instead, so do sign up for the mailing list if you’re interested!

Getting back on track with what I was saying, here's my conclusion: Little things that last 'just a minute' can (if you're clever) be achieved in a linear way without any hesitation, repetition or deviation... BUT I fully believe that any big project, such as writing a novel or learning an instrument, is a highly experimental process and it demands them all.

And that... ummm... errr...

really is

really, really, really is

(it could be anyway, or it could be something completely different)


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