Legendary Progressive Rock Band King Crimson’s “Indiscipline” is a joyful story about a conversation between vocalist Adrian Belew and his then-spouse. In the lyrics, she talks about a painting that she keeps returning to and deciding if it’s enough. If it’s good enough to be complete.
For several days in a row, I’ve spend parts of my evenings reviewing notes on my phone where I have a running list of lines and other things that might make it into something down the road. There is one line I’ve been holding on to for nearly a year that is now at the top of the list. During those reviews, it struck me that the self-torturing approach is something that applies to almost every work.
From verse 1.
“I do remember one thing
It took hours and hours but..
By the time I was done with it
I was so involved, I didn’t know what to think
I carried it around with me for days and days..
Playing little games Like not looking at it for a whole day
And then, looking at it
To see if I still liked it
Whenever I get this line right, this is almost identical to how I will tell the story of coming up with it. This is why it is taking so long to get it right.
From verse 2.
“I repeat myself when under stress”….
I’ve been told that this is a common trait among people with anxiety. Some of my grade school teachers told me I was doing this. It’s taken years to work on, and I still occasionally do it. In application to writing, I might repeat myself under a deadline or to hear how something sounds. Rarely, does writing ever put me under stress. Work is therapeutic.
“The more I look at it. The more I like it!”
When a good line, good paragraph, good piece is complete, the more I like it. The more I like it, the more ready I feel to potentially put it out there.
“No matter how closely I study it.
No matter how I take it apart.
No matter how I’ll break it down.
It remains consistent.”
Eventually, I have to stop revising. Revising is still a favourite part of the whole process. When this one little line I am working on remains consistent, it will be complete.
“I wish you were here to see it!”
If a colleague was in my home office or out with me for a meeting, then maybe I will show them the line. But I am not sending it out into the cyber sea until it’s final and forged into something! There is no set rules in the creative process. Discipline is a good thing to have. Indiscipline should be viewed as an expansion of a writers’ artistic palette.
“Indiscipline” was written by Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Tony Levin and Bill Bruford. No copyright infringement on the lyrics is intended.