I was in the marching band in high school and college. There were music rehearsals during the day and marching practice in the afternoon. There are two things to memorize: the music and your position on the field while you play the music. I’m surprised I performed as well as I did because I tend to be more or less geographically challenged. Finding your position by a numbered dot on a graph that kind-of-sort-of looks like a football field … let’s just say it’s harder than it looks.
In college (as in high school) we would practice moving from one dot to another over and over again. For, like, three hours. But because it was college, and everything is bigger and more compressed and crazy, we learned multiple shows a year. We had a show for kick off and we had a half-time show. This blew my mind away. You want me to learn what in how much time? But I did it along with 300 of my closest friends.
We had this saying when we had to repeat a drill: Same thing, more better (haha, ironized mis-use of language, anyone?). The process was frustrating but comforting at the same time. Yes, we were annoyed to do something over and over again to become marginally better, but guess what? We all had to do it. And it would be better. Or we would do it again. And again. And again.
As I revise and rewrite my essays in graduate school (and my fiction too), I feel like I’m stuck in the middle of a never-ending band rehearsal. Sure, Saturday is coming soon enough and with it football festivities and screaming fans. But it doesn’t feel like it because my legs are screaming and I can’t catch my breath. Where are you going? I’m not on that chart yet! But I’m plugging away, just like so many of my closest friends are too. reject, revise, resubmit. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Same thing. More better.