April, come she will.
When streams are ripe and swelled with rain
May, she will stay
Resting in my arms again.
From”April Come She Will” by Simon & Garfunkel
I read somewhere that Simon & Garfunkel’s song “April Come She Will”– part of the movie soundtrack for The Graduate – was used as a rhythmic guide during the film’s editing.
If you give it a listen, you’ll understand why. It’s a great example of pacing. That guitar-string fingering. The pauses. Those sentences of varying length.
The tune came to mind recently because March felt so march-like. So militarized. So aggressive. Though I knew we’d still be quarantined in April, I just wanted to get the hell out of March.
I yearned for April because it’s the first full month of spring. Because April comes from the Latin word aprilis, which means to open which was the opposite of how I felt most of last month, closed-up-tight with concern. Because the turning of winter into spring promised more movement and activity.
I’ve learned a lot about pace through reading and writing. Narrative pacing is the speed in which a storyline moves. When you say that the book you just read “dragged a bit in the middle” you are talking about pacing. Pace refers to how quickly or slowly the action moves and how details are revealed. You do this by balancing action with reflection; changing up the order of events or varying the sentence lengths.
There’s also the pacing in sentences. Language itself can be rhythmic through the sound of a word, the use of a fragment over a sentence or how words are laid out on the page.
Working on my memoir these past few years has also taught me about the pace of a long-term project. There’s an entirely different momentum involved in a longer work than writing an essay or blog or social media post. The bigger piece asks you to think marathon rather than a sprint.
In addition to an entirely new layer of worry and fear for our loved ones and communities, the tempo of our days has shifted. Dramatically.
What other time has there been this level of anxiety on top of a change in the pace of our days?
That’s where the music comes in; a gift from Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.
April will come, yes she will. May, she will stay.
A reminder that time moves on.
And despite the comfort in routine, there’s room in life for a multitude of rhythms.
“Reading and Writing the Personal Essay”
My spring writing workshop has now moved online.
Come join me via Zoom!
Wednesday afternoons from 1 to 3 pm for six weeks starting April 22.
Email me for more info.
“One True Sentence”
Tuesday, April 28th. 6:30 – 9 pm.
“Truth in Memoir” June 10
“Essay as Song” June 15
“One True Sentence” June 23