Summer School with Genji Onishi: How Beautiful One Word Can Be


The second in an ongoing series by undergraduate students in Intro to Creative Nonfiction at the University of Iowa reflecting on writing and revising. In this post, Genji Onishi draws inspiration from jazz pianist Bill Evans.

A topic brought up in our class a lot has been about how music might influence our writing, whether it’s a certain playlist or a song which through repeated plays has faded to some part of the brain that’s not really listening but helps the other parts to focus entirely on writing. Perhaps even music can affect the mood of our writing, as though when some emotional part of our brain lights up, the unconscious or zone or wherever place we write from draws from that light and smacks it onto the paper, as vividly as if the reader were hearing it.

This is all speculation of course, and I find it difficult to stay strapped to my seat while listening to house or some funky rhythms, but I’d like to see how we think about music and writing in the same ways. I’ve replayed this Bill Evans interview at least 10 times and I’d like to keep doing so until I can at least begin to implement some of what he talks about because I think it is essential to both music and writing.

It must be “entirely true and entirely real and entirely accurate;” it must be entirely true and entirely real and entirely accurate; it must be entirely true and entirely real and entirely accurate; it must be entirely true and entirely real and entirely accurate. I think the one thing that I can understand and try to strive towards is at 2:25 when, given a certain framework as Bill Evans plays, we can see how beautiful one note can be. With writing, I suppose, given a sentence or paragraph as a certain framework, we can see how beautiful one word can be as well.

Genji Onishi hopes to double major in music and writing and so is consolidating everything he can.

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