There are times when I begin writing a piece with intentions of grandiose innovative ideas only to discover the next day that it was completely absurd and nonsensical. Dissociating myself with such trash is, at that moment, an emotional, awakening experience (how dare I admit to composing garbage!), but in the end, never regretted. I could have wasted more time trying to redeem it and failing epically.
However, I have never considered starting fresh by a reason other than doing away with the failures or neglecting a piece unintentionally. Even then, for those unfinished pieces, I have always intended to return to them.
Perhaps never really is a strong word. During my composition lesson on Monday, I told Dr. Suter about the results of my most recent research ventures and my new plans for composing my string quartet. I had intended to finish The Forty-Year Wandering, but to my surprise, he suggested writing something completely new.
Seriously?!!! Start fresh?!!! The absolute hardest time to start composing–or writing anything for that matter: essays, poems, posts, gibberish ,etc.–is when there is nothing on the page. And I still have plans for that piece too! It’s not like I feel I have lost direction on it or anything, or so I think.
His idea behind starting fresh is that since the piece (or the sketch, essentially) was written months ago (in October), and I have learned so much since then, especially due to my recent research, I should write something completely new so that I won’t by constrained by my previous writing.
Now that I think about it, it does make sense. I’ve have abandoned pieces that became far too estranged in my relationship with them, and now they lie orphaned in a notebook of past ideas. I doubt I’ll revisit them ever again. Therefore, the statement that I’ve never started fresh on account of mere neglect isn’t actually true–I just do it as a less-than-conscious choice. In fact, retracing the thread of a piece, either because of choosing to revise it or deciding to finish it post-abandonment, is a much different approach to composing than starting anew. Doing so to The Forty-Year Wandering simply felt strange because October was not that long ago at all! (This year is going by waaaaay too fast, but it has been incredible.) It leaves another piece on my to-write list (I add more faster than I can finish them, especially because of the requests of eager performers, which I’ll never complain about), but in the end, I’m sure it will be worth the journey.