Last week, I worked at Orchestra Hall as the check-in person for the preliminary round of auditions. Each candidate came in, gave me his or her name which I checked off my list, and one of us working there would take the candidate to a warm-up room. An easy but important job. When a lull occurred, I read The Writer or thought about auditions in life and music.
For the Minnesota Orchestra, their Music Director, Osmo Vanska, makes the final decision on hiring a candidate after the final round. So, if Evan Quinn were an orchestra’s music director, he’d have the final decision, too. But he’s not yet a music director in the Perceval series, although one orchestra has its eyes on him for that position, so he guest conducts orchestras all over the world. Each of his performances is an audition. How he performs will determine whether or not he’s invited back to conduct. It can also be an audition for a music directorship — he never knows who’s in the audience. A member of a search committee from some other orchestra could have traveled to observe him. Like most conductors, though, Evan focuses on the job and not on the audition aspect. If he does his job well, he’ll advance.
Musicians and actors audition for jobs. For the rest of us, we go on job interviews. But they are auditions, too. We must demonstrate our knowledge and skills as related to the open position. In fact, we are screened in just about every thing we do by every person we meet. Would we make an honest and loving spouse? Tenant? Friend? Member of our group?
Fictional characters rarely audition for writers. They choose writers to tell their stories or to be included in the stories of other characters. Writers, then, are the ones who audition for their imaginations and the characters that live within. Writers need to make friends with their imaginations, preferably at a very early age, and build trust so that their imaginations will feel comfortable revealing their gallery of characters. At the same time, the characters must feel comfortable and trust the writer to write their stories with integrity. An open mind, rapacious curiosity, and a drive to solve the mysteries everywhere in life are essential characteristics for a writer. A love for storytelling and language serve as the vehicles for the writer’s journey.
I’ve been fortunate to have characters choose me, not only Evan Quinn. They began when I was in sixth grade. I’ve had my share of job interviews, but although I was a musician for a while, I’ve only auditioned once or twice. Both times were for spots in choirs. As I worked the auditions last week, I observed the candidates — some showed their nervousness, others withdrew into themselves, still others needed help for even the smallest of mundane tasks. All focused with complete dedication on the task at hand. It takes strong nerves, outstanding skill and musicianship to advance through the audition rounds to a job offer at a major orchestra. As I watched the candidates, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d continued in music would I have been able to survive going from audition to audition.
But that’s what writers do with agents and publishers…..from one audition to the next until their writing hits the right chord…..