A riff: a short repeated phrase in popular music and jazz, typically used as an introduction or refrain in a song.
Simply, an intro.
Specifically, a musical intro, like what we hear at the beginning of our favorite songs, performed by some sort of instrument (in my case, that would be a Christmas instrumental- yes, I am that person; and yes, I am very aware it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, my family’s ears have my sincerest apologies).
I think, like a song, we all have our own riffs.
When I pick up my pen to write, or my pencil to draw, there is a riff. It’s not when I’ve actually put pen to paper and jotted down my thoughts into well-worded statements of eloquent intention, complete with scripted curtsy. It’s not when I’ve hit “Publish!” after reviews and revisions, laying my work out for the world to see. It’s not when I’ve put the final shading touches on my drawing, accepting that there is no more to be done, that this is the finished piece.
I think, it’s the thoughts.
Right before I hastily pull out a pen from my purple pencil pouch and scurry to get the words into my sea-blue journal in case I forget, there are the unwritten words. Before the unwritten words there’s a feeling, an emotional trigger, some event that makes it impossible for me to do anything except write- I have to get it out, on paper. I have an awful tendency to hold my emotions in, especially the really toxic ones (I know I know, that’s the opposite of what everyone recommends, buuut tell that to my brain). Writing allows me to spill all these racing, tumbling, chaotic words without hurting anyone around me- and by ridding myself of this buildup, I’m better equipped to help those around me.
After the feeling, the trigger, and before the words are visible, permanent black stains on paper, there are the thoughts.
My unwritten words.
They’re my introduction, a little snippet of who I am at my innermost core. It’s not the prim and polished monologue I’ve put together for the public viewer, but it’s not empty space either. It’s somewhere in the middle I think, a world between void and viable: this refrain is the most important piece because with it someone can get a sense of who I am in my entirety, a measly melodic taste of my true song, but without it I wouldn’t be me.
What’s your riff?