The Many Faces of Pace

One of the seminars I used to teach to graduate creative writing students was called “The Many Faces of Pace.” It seems to me that pace is one of the last things we consider when writing anything fictional or nonfictional and yet in music composition it is one of the first. In all art forms it is a necessary tool in establishing rhythm and continuity, tension and suspense, rest periods, as well as pattern and emotional depth. In music there are words to describe it: Adagio (a restful pace), Allegro (a lively pace), capriccio ( a spirited pace), accelerando (a gradually quickened pace), and legatto (a smooth pace) to name a number of them.

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Still Pond

I have been thinking of pace a lot lately and how it can also be a useful tool in my attempt to continue working in both the literary and visual arts. Once I could count on having enough energy to write during the day and paint at night. Now I must proceed at a slower pace and be satisfied with less output. The quality of the work is the same (sometimes better) but the quantity is not. That fact, however, allows me to concentrate on what means the most to me. Also, If I know that I will be facing a very busy and tiring day, I need to change the pace of the following day and accept the fact that these breaks are necessary. It amazes me that I was able to accomplish so much at a time when there were the daily lives of others to consider and constant interruptions. Now that I often have uninterrupted time, and my entire house is my studio, one of the things that keeps me going is this concept of pace and how I can make it work for me in so many areas. Allegro to start the day perhaps, followed by Adagio, then Accelerando. Capriccio creeps in at times, but it is Legato that I love the best at this stage of my life, that time in the day when everything I attempt runs smoothly and I’m at peace with myself.

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