So Far….

We’re almost a month into 2021 and I’ve had some revelations…

…starting with a piece I wrote when I was 19, which I thought was pretty good, but which was decidedly NOT. It didn’t sound like me. Rather, it sounded like the work of a young woman who was trying to impress her teacher by writing something she thought he’d like.

I suppose it was all part of the learning process. But, I would never play it for anyone. In fact, it left me wondering how I believed I could write music in the first place.

Then, I took a breath and listened to some of my vocal performances from when I was around the same age.

You should know, I never liked hearing myself on recordings. My voice always sounded babyish and insubstantial to me—too light, too high, too Minnie Mouse. So, it took a giant leap of faith to listen to myself sing, particularly after hearing that piece.

But shock of shocks, I wasn’t awful.

I also listened to some of the recordings my husband made of me playing the piano—Brahms, Berg, Chopin, Schubert, Mendelssohn—and was equally surprised to find they were okay.

I think one of the hardest things any creative person can do is find their voice—that genuine expression that rises from the gnarled recesses within them. Even harder, is the ability to recognize it when it emerges, and appreciate its deeply personal sound and form.

So, where will these revelations lead?

There are many possibilities….

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Hodgepodge

Gallery of the Louvre — Samuel Morse

I was looking for a painting, an abstract really, to explain my weeks of absence. None of them were messy enough. Not even Pollock’s. So I started paging through pointillists, and surrealists, and vast scenes of hunts and portraits of serious men at serious undertakings and found my attention straying to the barking dog next door.

Dogs bark for any number of reasons—a pedestrian walks by, a squirrel leaps into a tree, a neighbor’s cat tries to trespass on their turf, or they just want inside. Then they stop barking when the pedestrian is gone, the squirrel bounds out of sight, the cat slinks away, or the door opens for them.

Fortunately, there’s rarely more than one dog barking at a time around here.

For years, I was fascinated by Morse’s Louvre masterpiece, but now it just seems messy, a fascinating irony from someone who devised a method of communicating with dots and dashes, dits and dahs. I think when there’s that much going on it’s hard to focus, know what is most deserving of attention.

So, it’s not that I haven’t had the urge to bark; I just haven’t known what to bark at first. There are simply too many pedestrians, squirrels, cats, and doors.

Woof.

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Screensaver

Albert_Edelfelt_-_Playing_the_Piano

“Playing the Piano” — Albert Edelfelt (1854-1905)

I’m taking a sanity break. Or maybe not.

Someone posted the painting above on Twitter and it’s been haunting me…which is perfect, I guess, for my new—truthfully, not-so-new—novel about a woman, a house, two pianos, and a man.

Over the past ten years, the novel has gone through so many incarnations I’ve lost count. But three elements have remained constant: the house, the pianos, and the man. The woman has now become women—two.

When I saw Edelfelt’s painting, it was as though someone had read my mind.

The scene disturbs me in the worst and best ways—his face, closeness to her, intense expression, the way one hand rests on her shoulder, the other on the music rack, and her rigid back, hands frozen in motion. What is she feeling? Her face seems to shift so subtly, I can’t tell.

Yet I know I feel like a voyeur.

And I can’t look away. The painting has triggered all kinds of sensations, bringing me closer to the heart of a setting and what lies within.

I think.

So it’s spread across my computer screen.

Where I can’t escape it.

Happily.

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