Muse Monday: Make It Simple

I’m running a little late publishing the Muse Monday post for today. Truth is, my head hurts, my stomach hurts, and I’m just not “feeling it,” but I found this quote today, and I just had to share it, so here goes…

Now, I studied Bach in music theory in college, so I know that Bach isn’t quite as simple as his music seems at first. There are a lot of “rules” that go into writing a composition in the same style as Bach…a lot of rules. I don’t remember them all, or how many there were. I just remember that I kept breaking them for the whole entire semester…until the end when I finally “found Bach.” Then we moved on to the Classical period.

Still, I “get” what Mingus is saying here. There are no crazy sounding intervals in Bach. There is very little dissonance at all. The rhythms are steady and exact. There’s no “fancy” stuff, and honestly, Bach’s music is a little predictable, but that is the beauty of it. His music has endured for centuries. Bach made the simple “awesomely simple.”  And, having failed for so long to copy that awesomely simple way of composing, I can totally appreciate that.

Think, for a moment, how great it would be if we could do this with our writing. Strip away all the unnecessary words (do you really need to use a five-syllable adjective when a two syllable one will work just as well?). Don’t insert aliens into the denouement of your 19th century pastoral novel. They don’t belong there, and they’ll just wreck the story. Yes, it’s weird…and yes, it’s something not many people have done before…but there’s most likely a reason for that.

Let the beauty of the language and the simplicity of your words show how creative you truly are. Quit trying to be different. There is, after all, nothing (truly) new under the sun. So what if the story you want to tell is the same story everyone else is telling right now? The fact is, no one else will ever tell it exactly the same way you do. Don’t strive to be weird or different. Strive to be you because you are different than anyone else on the planet, and your writing will be too.

What’s the exercise for today? Look at something you’ve written recently and strip it. Change it to be as simple as you can. Tweak it however you want, but remember that the main goal here is simplicity. Cut the frills. Make it plain and natural, and when you’ve done that, see how awesome it is. And share it with us in the comments, if you want. I, for one, would love to see it.

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