Posted in composition, COVID-19, creativity, Fathers, holidays, writing

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

Posted in human nature, writing

Narration

René Magritte, Le Principe Du Plaisir, 1937

I talk to myself. When I shop, cook, read, practice (sometimes), go for long walks—I imagine and comment often unconsciously, no matter who’s around. And I always write out loud…always.

It’s not enough for me to see characters talk to each other on the page, express themselves through inner monologues, or confess their longings in letters; I have to hear them do it. Nothing about them or their situation feels concrete until my ear can process their voices. The same is true for an objective narrator. I have to hear the narration in order to see the scene and action.

I started talking to myself when I started reading, an offshoot, I suppose, of being read to by my parents. When I started school, I read everything I needed to learn aloud; and when I got older, I learned to keep my voice low so I wouldn’t disturb anyone around me, or become the subject of ridicule or fear. I still have sharp memories of the warning issued by one of my math teachers when there were whispers in class: “There are only two types of people in this world who talk to themselves; and none of you are millionaires. The men in the white coats will be coming for you soon.”

In my youth, I didn’t think I was crazy, but how could I be sure? It was the sixties.

Thanks to cell phones, I’m no longer concerned about my habit of talking to myself in public. These days, most people are talking to air—yelling at their kids, coordinating schedules with their mates, or gossiping in a way that invites everyone to eavesdrop. Next to them, my babble about ingredients labels, or what was on the grocery list I left at home, is inaudible, even if my lips are clearly moving. No one cares.

And at home? Well….

A few days ago, my husband came in to my office wanting to know who I was talking to as I was in the thick of a character’s outpourings; but as soon as he saw the page of text on my screen, and the phone receiver resting in place, rather than at my ear, he said, “Oh,” and left without another word. Without blinking.

That’s the wonderfully comforting part of living with someone for a long time.

You can talk to yourself all you want, and it’s just part of another day for them. At least, that’s what I tell myself….

©2019 All Rights Reserved

Posted in creativity, poetry, writing

When Words Fail

Photo by Lum3n.com on Pexels.com

WHEN WORDS FAIL

They are slippery, evasive, coy,
dangling on our tongues,
sometimes, yes, at the tip,
and sometimes on an edge,
not big enough to bite,
or near enough to taste,
resting on molars, or canines,
before vanishing
and reappearing in a flicker,
chuckling.

Once in a while, they are gremlins,
gumming up the works,
wreaking havoc.

But it always seems the ones we deeply crave,
those that will plait our thoughts
into a seamless chain,
dodge into remote, cranial crevices
when we call them.

And then it takes four or five or six words
to say, all too poorly, what one would have said—
the one which won’t be found in a thesaurus
because even its synonyms have hidden in solidarity.

Those are the words that keep us
imagining they’ve been sucked
from their shallow holes
into some bottomless eddy.

Those are the words that really bedevil.

Until, by some miracle—
spring, mostly,
their noses reemerge,
unguarded, quivering, curious,
and ready to multiply….

©2017 All Rights Reserved