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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Inspiration

“The House by the Railroad” (Edward Hopper)

I guess because it’s a new year, people are posting all kinds of articles about decluttering. I even posted one today, thinking it would inspire me to clean out.

I’ve never thought of myself as a big saver, but I do have my weaknesses. It’s tough to get rid of items that have sentimental value. Possessions like that develop adhesive powers, akin to what happens to nonstick frying pans when their surface wears out. Then, everything sticks to them.

Lately, and a little unnervingly, I’ve felt the waning value of intangibles in my life, a lack of pleasure derived from them, but am unsure how, or even whether I should let them go. I mean, how do you part with identity-shaping goals and activities? How do you justify shifting gears after decades of dedication to the development of certain skills? I know people have done it, simply quit and turned their attention to fresh pursuits, but, but, but…there is that adhesive…

Maybe I’m just not ready to part with an act of creation that once excited me, yet now does not, or practicing music I once loved which now sits open on the piano’s rack. Maybe I just need to spend time decluttering other areas of my life. I suppose there is value in serious sorting, determining which possessions and activities are enriching, and worth keeping, and which are stifling, and need to go. Maybe the ideas and passion will come then…or not….

There’s only one way to tell.

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One? Or Two?

Screen Shot 2018-11-02 at 5.03.53 PM

Choral Fantasy (From one of Ludwig van Beethoven’s sketchbooks)

If you wear glasses, you’re familiar with that part of the eye exam when your doctor lowers a phoropter into position in front your face and starts flipping between lenses, asking, “Which is better? One? Or two? One? Or two?”

***

I finished my novella about seven weeks ago, and immediately started working on what I assumed was going to be a stand-alone sequel.  Five thousand or so words in, it occurred to me that maybe I should merge the two short books into a longer one, to make my work more marketable.

So, I cut and pasted and combined, wrote lengthy notes to myself and revised my notes, and forged ahead.

Then yesterday, I spent an hour giving my reimagined novel-in-progress an honest look.

Have you ever seen a movie that veers off in a new direction midway through, abandoning the original story line, and, occasionally, characters, leaving you feeling like you’ve just seen two completely different movies that have been stuck together with library paste? That’s the way I felt reading my draft.

***

So, now you’re probably wondering why there’s a page from one of Beethoven’s sketchbooks at the top of this post. Well, as you can see, Ludwig scratched out a lot of what he wrote. And I can envision him, at points during the creation of this sonata/symphony/concerto/quartet or that, flipping between pages of his books and thinking, “Which is better? One? Or Two? One? Or Two?”

***

Sometimes, one is better. And, other times, two are better than one.

(Stowing library paste.)

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