Greater St. Louis Marching Band Festival – 2010 Version

Because I know you’re all waiting with bated breath to hear how Jazz’s marching band performed this past weekend … (*snort*)

THEY PLACED SECOND IN THE GOLD DIVISION! (The divisions are determined by band size – Jazz’s school is pretty large, so they fall into the Gold division).

Can I get a HOLLA!

My mom was able to switch days at work and got to go with me to St. Louis on Saturday. (This like NEVER happens, so I was VERY EXCITED that she was able to go. This was her first time watching the band perform and it’s sooooo much better than watching a video).

We (me, Jazz, Dude, Kevin and my mom), all met at Wendy’s for lunch. Then I dropped Jazz off at the school so he could get on the bus, took Dude back home (because he had gone with us the last two competitions and was quite burned out on the whole concept), Kevin took off for his gig (his band was scheduled to play at a private party … he wouldn’t have accepted the gig, but the guy who sets this stuff up told him the wrong day and since he had already agreed, he wasn’t able to back out), so that left just me and my mom.

(If my mom hadn’t been able to go, I think I would have gone by myself. I really wanted to see their last performance of the year).

(Side Note: When I dropped Jazz off at the school, the bus drivers were closing up the huge doors in the cargo area, preparing to take off. Jazz was almost too late!! Talk about stressed! Jazz hurriedly gathered his stuff and later texted me: “I was almost late!” I felt really bad about that but the schedule the band director handed out for the parents said they were going to depart at 1:30, not 1:00! Jazz said there were quite a few kids that got there late, actually. Can you imagine if he had missed the bus!?! That would have been really, really bad).

I went and picked my mom up (their house is on the way), spent a few minutes admiring the new tile in their bathroom (they are redoing it and it looks really good – the tile fits my mom PERFECTLY), and then we got onto the road.

The time up there zoomed by. We hadn’t had a chance to talk to each other in months – we’ve both been so busy with our lives … which is sad, because we live in the same city! We stopped at Steak-N-Shake to grab some dinner and made it into St. Louis around 6:00 p.m. We walked into the stadium (they played at the St. Louis Rams’ Dome) as the first band in the Gold Division was playing so we had to wait until they finished playing before finding our seats.

(Side Note: They don’t allow anyone to leave or enter when a band is playing out of respect for the kids. It’s distracting and rude, quite frankly).

As I mentioned, this was the first time my mom has watched a marching band competition. I think she really enjoyed it. We commented on each band’s performance (like we knew what we were talking about HA!), and we picked our favorites (after Jazz’s band, of course).

Jazz’s band was the last to play, and the kids did really well. It was one of their best performances. I really enjoy the last performance of the year because by that time, the kids could do the routine in their sleep, they have perfected the music and their confidence shines.

I was SO proud of all of them.

The program was really sweet and fun and I know mom really enjoyed it. Again, there is NOTHING like watching it live. It takes your breath away what with the drums, the color guard (the dancing girls), the music and of course, all of the little extras the band does during the routine that is often missed in the videos.

When it came time for awards, mom and I had a pretty good idea who would likely win it. Though we wanted to say it was Jazz’s band, we thought another band’s music might have been a bit more sophisticated and it was beautifully elegant. Jazz told me that 60% of what the judges judge is the music … so, we wondered.

They started with the outstanding music, performance and visual awards and whoever wins those awards are usually a pretty good indication of who is going to win first place.

They began with fifth place and when it came time to announce the 1st and 2nd place winners, we were a nervous wreck.

Our kids placed second and the band that won first? Was the one mom and I thought would win it.

Quite honestly, they deserved it. It was a spectacular show.

We walked out exchanging notes and laughing about how nervous we had been. It was nerve wracking not knowing if they were going to place at all, so it was a huge relief when we heard their name called for second.

We navigated the crowds back to my car and worried that it would take us quite a while to actually make it back onto the highway because there was so much traffic, but we got out surprisingly fast and before we knew it, we were on our way back home.

I stopped for gas, mom bought some water and before long, we had to make a bathroom stop.

I wasn’t quite so worried about making it back into town before Jazz did because Kevin was home and he could always pick him up, but still, it would have been easier if I could do it, so though we stopped, we didn’t stop for very long not knowing how far back the kids were.

We got back into town (and I talked so much that I almost missed the exit) a little before 2:00 a.m. I dropped mom off and was on my way to the school (figuring I’d just hang out until the buses came in as opposed to getting home and then turning around to get back out) when Jazz called me.

We beat them back by about fifteen minutes.

The kids were exhausted, as per usual, and they stumbled off the buses. I located Jazz, took his uniform and his duffel bag off his hands while he secured his instrument in his locker inside the school.

I quietly congratulated him on his 2nd place win and we rode the rest of the way home in silence. (Jazz is simply too tired to do much chit-chatting).

We all slept in quite late Sunday (Jazz slept a solid ten hours) and spent the day in our PJ’s.

(Side Note: Jazz told me that on the way up to St. Louis, he ate the entire package of Twizzlers that I gave him [his favorite candy] and made himself sick so that by the time they were supposed to perform, he was swallowing bile back in an attempt not to upchuck all over himself and his band mates. Now maybe he’ll understand the whole “you’re going to make yourself sick” argument I give him whenever he wants to eat more than he should. Ahh, sweet justice 🙂 )

And that concludes this marching band season. I’m a little bummed because I love this stuff so much, but Jazz is quite sick of the routine and is ready to move on to something different.

Like Jazz band.

(Hence the reason I’ve nicknamed him “Jazz” on this blog).

Thanks for indulging me.


NaNoWriMo Workshop – Point of View

This post was originally published on Write Anything, October 21, 2008.

Welcome back to Write Anything NaNoWriMo workshop week!

“The choice of the point(s) of view from which the story is told is arguably the most important single decision that the novelist has to make, for it fundamentally affects the way readers will respond, emotionally and morally, to the fictional characters and their actions.” David Lodge

Let’s talk a little bit about point of view.

When I first became interested in writing, point of view confused me.

A lot.

First of all, I couldn’t keep them straight. I think the writing teachers I had back in school took great delight in watching our faces contort into all sorts of bewildered masks as they stood in front of the class and talked about the various points of views and when you should, or should not use them.

And if you learned NOTHING else from them, you did not, under any circumstances, combine them in the same story!

*insert horrified gasp*

That point was pounded so much into my brain I actually graduated from college with a lop-sided skull.

Now, you’re lucky if you read a story, any story and from any genre, that doesn’t have at least two different points of view in them. And in some stories, points of view change so fast that it leaves readers scratching their heads trying to figure out 1). which character they’re supposed to be following and 2). exactly whose story is it, anyway?

Even though I understand the difference between the points of view now, I still hesitate over which POV I should write my stories from, because a lot of times, picking the right point of view can make, or break, your story.

But first things first – let’s define the various points of view:

First-Person Singular POV

The most natural POV is the first-person singular, since all stories and trials originate with someone, an “I,” witnessing what happens.

The first person narrator can tell a story with herself as a central character or she can be one of the minor characters. Or she can tell somebody else’s story, barely mentioning herself except to show where the information comes from.

First-Person Multiple POV

You use several first-person narrators and alternate among them, usually beginning a new chapter with each change of narrator. This strategy offers a diversity of voices, viewpoints and ways of thinking without the arrogance of the omniscient sound.

Some pros and cons for First-Person POV:

Pro: It’s technically the least ambiguous. Readers always know who is seeing and experiencing the story. It’s subjective. You’re a bit more free with the voice – using slang, bad grammar, etc. And first person offers smooth access to a character’s thoughts. (You don’t have to worry about awkward switches in pronouns – which CAN get tedious).

Cons: We can’t take an outside look at our POV character. Sure, you could use a mirror, but that’s been overdone and is in fact, cliche – avoid that technique if at all possible. In a suspense story, it’s pretty much a given that an “I” character will survive – kill off your “I” character and the story dies with him/her. And it’s hard to create a compelling new voice for each story.

Third-Person Omniscient POV

In this POV, which is used infrequently in contemporary writing, the author knows everything about all the characters, places and events involved. The reader observes from many angles. The “camera” is conveniently set wherever the action is, akin to television coverage of a basketball game.

Third-Person Limited POV

This POV – and its variants – is the most common one used. There are at least three kinds of third-person limited POVs:

Third-person subjective POV – resembles first-person POV except it’s usually done in standard English rather than in the character’s voice.

Third-person objective POV – You don’t reveal the viewer – the way you don’t see the person holding a camcorder.

Third-person limited omniscient POV – this combines the objective and the subjective approaches.

Third-Person Multiple POV – this sounds like omniscient POV, and the difference may be subtle, but it’s best to see it as a series of third-person limted POVs minus authorial intrusions.

Objective POV (or theatrical POV) – this perspective is blurred under the third-person objective POV, but we should distinguish an objective POV, which does not focus on one person, from the limited objective POV.

Second-Person POV

The author makes believe that he is talking to someone, describing what the person addressed is doing. But the “you” is not the reader, though sometimes it’s hard to get rid of the impression that the author is addressing you directly. This POV is the least popular as it puts the readers on the defensive, most people do not like to be told how to think or what they are to do, even in stories.
(Source: Josip Novakovich, Fiction Writer’s Workshop)

There are a few more, but in essence, they are a combination of the ones listed above.

I think you get the point (of view – haha).

Here are a few POV exercises to try:

1. Take a piece of your own writing and rewrite it in
(a) a different viewpoint
(b) a different tense (changing from present to past, for example).

2. Take a passage from a favorite novel and rewrite it, changing viewpoint and tense. How does that change the story? Does it read better?

3. Relate one of the following scenes in 300 words, first from one viewpoint, and then from another:

The first day of school. A young teacher, fresh from college, faces his/her first class. (The viewpoint of the teacher, and then one of the pupils).

There has been a road crash. (Viewpoint of a by-stander, and then the crash victim).

A young woman helps an old blind man across the road. (Viewpoint of the woman, and then the man).

(Source of exercises: Nigel Watts, Writing a Novel)

It may take some time to settle on a particular POV for your story, but a POV that works for the story will make it better and more interesting to readers.

One word of caution: switching POVs often irritates readers and certainly most editors, unless you establish the pattern early in the story, writers should respect POV. Keep your readers inside one character head at a time and if you switch, make sure the switch is obvious by either starting a new chapter from another POV, or even a new paragraph – never in the same sentence.

Finding the best POV for your story is difficult and may take some experimenting. The only rule about POV is that there is no rule. If a particular technique works, use it. And if your story is not working with your current POV, rewrite it and change the POV and see what happens.

Next: Plot