The Art of Writing a Paper

 In college I was an English major. I mentioned this to one of my students the other night. She said she hated writing papers. As I recalled, I loved writing papers. I hated tests. But I loved writing papers. Papers were a chance for me to discover what I had been thinking. Not only did I enjoy writing; I enjoyed REWRITING. I know that sounds twisted, but let me explain. I have never been a very linear thinker. It was always important for me to be able to spew on paper -- write whatever I was thinking on a topic, without editting myself or feeling like I had to have any kind of logical flow. I know some people were very organized: they wrote outlines and were able to pen very polished papers on their first draft.
    I could never do that. How could I possibly know what to write until I started writing? It was very freeing to be able to write like that. I would put my ramblings away for a day or so -- I always started the process way before the due date; another anomoly. Then I would return to my scribblings and read through. Often I would encounter that I had written the same thing several times ("All work and no play make Jack a dull boy" -- no, not like that!). I would capture an idea and end up rephrasing it several times. Often, upon rereading, I would discover that the original phrasing was the best and most original.
    So why am I going on here about paper writing? Because it occurs to me that I have a similar approach to soloing over blues progressions. Not just me, lots of players do this: we phrase a statement, question, exclamation...then we rephrase it; we eloborate; we reform the question, statement, exclamation.
    In jazz and blues we talk about referencing the melody -- its our anchor, or our theme --- if we stray too far we can always return to it: it frames our discussion. Its actually a very simple idea; but executing it is very difficult. When we solo we are discovering what it is we have to say. Of course, that's not just soloing. When we sit down with our instrument and compose, practice, noodle...we are giving ourselves a moment away from the demands of an expectant world that wants us to be logical, organized and together.

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