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….

©2021 All Rights Reserved

Shuttered Spaces

Painting by Philip Froman

The painting above has no title. My father completed this when he was in his eighties, after taking up a brush for the first time in his seventies. He was a genial man, my father, with torrents of unrealized dreams dammed up inside him. If you look closely, and listen, you can almost hear those dreams crash against the cliffs. Although I should have, I never thought to catalog his work. What I do know is that two of his paintings stood out among the dozens he produced: the one above, and an idyllic lake scene, a complete antithesis to it. Both represent the man he was.

***

For months I’ve found myself in an odd place—trying to sustain the appearance of writing, while not having any interest in writing. Other than the words on this blog, and the occasional letters to family and friends, I’ve produced nothing.

I can’t blame the virus, as tempting as it is. The ideas, and desire to shape them, started drying up long before COVID-19. It just took months of solitude to accept, and make peace with it.

***

Recently, a composer friend, who never heard any of my music, suggested I should start composing again—tentatively, gently, as though he understood he was directing me to a room I’d shuttered and forgotten. I stopped composing after graduate school, for many of the same reasons I don’t write now.

It was an unlikely suggestion, from an unlikely source.

But sometimes, the unlikeliest suggestions, from the unlikeliest sources, resonate in the deepest recesses, in the most organic ways.

Once, I followed a similar unlikely suggestion, from an unlikely source, because it felt right, and it led to love.

This feels the same.

***

I have no idea what will spring from my shuttered space. But, if the only music that comes from it is as indicative of who I am, as my father’s paintings were of who he was, then I’ll be happy.

***

I imagine this blog will undergo some changes before 2021. Information about books will remain, as will all the old posts. But, the focus will shift, as I reintroduce myself to my roots, and, to you.

***

In the meanwhile, I wish you safety, good health, abundant strength, joy, and love in the coming holiday season…

…and, of course, the New Year. I’ll see you then.

©2020 All Rights Reserved

Clichés

William Shakespeare

Griselda disappeared a couple of months ago.

Before setting off for subconscious terrain, she left a long letter on my desktop, beside a file of the novella I was writing, accusing me of suffering from a “Plague of clichés.”

I didn’t scoff, as I might have if anyone else had said it. Her list of grievances was too long, and too pointed. All I could do was sigh and groan.

“Perhaps,” she concluded, “you should take that statue of Shakespeare you’ve had since childhood, and move it from the bookshelf to your desk for inspiration….”

Which is exactly what I did.

So far, he hasn’t said a word. Nor has he budged. I turn the desk light on periodically to see if his expression has changed, but it hasn’t. And, if the light bothers him, I can’t tell. He doesn’t squint, and he doesn’t complain. Not even about my clumsy drafts.

***

In the past couple of months, I have read two novels in which he plays a significant role. Both use similar construction and literary devices.

I enjoyed reading them, but, when I finished, I was struck by how many other books I have read in the past year in which the Bard plays no role, but the construction and devices do—the same ones in my work that triggered Griselda’s departure.

And so, I am left with a silent Bard, too many versions of a manuscript driven by stale contrivances, too much time to rue over them, and a reluctance to let them go.

Shall I be like Donatello, before his statue of the prophet, Habakkuk, and scream at my silent icon, “Speak, damn you, speak!” Hoping, praying for instruction? Or shall I regard the lack of it as trust? The Bard’s way of saying, “You can do this. Think….”

Think, he says…. Of folders nested within folders, unused titles, inscriptions, settings, characters, words…overused construction and devices…and Griselda’s exasperated notes….

A plague of clichés.

Maybe that’s where I start.

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