Tip-Toeing Back from Oblivion

A few months ago, my friend Edwina Moore asked me to write a guest post for a series she was doing on time management and accountability for writers. What ended up spilling out of me was a lengthy confessional about how I almost stopped writing 2.5 years ago and how I’ve slowly, slowly been trying to rebuild my writing practice since then. It’s a story I didn’t think I’d ever tell anyone, to be honest, but for what it’s worth, this is where I’m at.

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Tempo Rubato

a pyramid metronome sitting on an open book of piano music
This is a torture device.

So I’ve been teaching myself to play the piano. I took a few years of sullen lessons in childhood, but I was more interested in singing and not terribly gifted at either. I absorbed a handful of musical terms and little else. In college, I moved onto other passions and music lost out in the battle with literature and politics. Then three years ago my parents gifted me a piano, and I realized the baby grand could exist merely so I might dust it once in a while or I could learn to play it.

As with most things, the initial period of learning went wonderfully. If you go from knowing nothing to having mastered one skill, you’ve doubled your knowledge. Hooray! Playing the piano–if one were generous enough to label those efforts “playing”–was gratifying and almost meditative.

But as my (meager) skill improved, I had to face the simple truth: unlike Gershwin, I got no rhythm. Absolutely none. Where my internal ticker should be there is a void.

And thus enters the metronome.

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