Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Power of Time and Experience

I just had this really cool experience while practicing my violin that gave me new perspective on writing.  I need to give a quick history though in order for the coolness of the experience to come across properly.

I started playing the violin when I was 4.  So number of years invested in music = more than 20.  I don't really remember much of playing the violin when I was really young.  Just that I did.  It wasn't until I was about 10 years old that I really have firm memories of learning pieces.  The memories stuck for two reasons.  One was just that I was older.  And two because by that point I was learning more advanced pieces.  The types of pieces that take you months to work through because they're f-ing hard.  You're not on Twinkle anymore, Toto.

I remember working through some of those concertos and sonatas and eventually being able to play them but they still didn't feel easy.  Fast forward a few years... I studied music in college... learned more pieces... basically improved my craft slowly but surely.  And now I teach which actually makes you even more attentive to details.

Back to my really cool experience, I started working on a piece that I have to do for an audition. Coincidentally, the piece that they are requiring for the audition is one that I had worked through/played years ago when I was a spry, young thing.  So I pull out the music that has, like, 15 years of accumulated dust built up.  I blow off the dead moths and start playing through it.

And that's when it hit.

For one thing, the notes came back a lot faster than I though they would.  Yeah, it was rusty.  But I was shocked how much I actually remembered.  But then the really cool thing happened: I was playing through it and it felt easy.

Easy being a very relative term here.  It was never a simple piece to begin with.  But to have such vivid memories of the last time I played the piece and all the hard sections circled in the music that I drilled and drilled... and then 15 years later I easily play through those same hard passages.

I don't really know if there's a word to describe what I felt at that point.  The thing that was powerful for me was that I clearly remember this particular piece maxing out my technical skills the first time I learned it.  Like I gave it everything I had.  And now that time has passed and my experience increased, I realized I now have the ability to give the piece even more.  Which is just so COOL!

It ended up really putting my writing in perspective.  The stories that I write right now are the best that I can do.  They max out my technical skill.  And I think sometimes this is a source of insecurity for me because I know that they're not life changing.  I enjoy writing them, I feel like I have good concepts but it doesn't always rid me of the feeling that the story could be more somehow.

Playing that piece made me realize that I've only been writing for 2 1/2 years.  Which is NOTHING.  So right now the best thing I can do is try my best and to keep trying.  Eventually time and experience will give me the ability to put that elusive "more" into my stories.

2 comments:

  1. I've read a few authors who have given out the same advice: write the best story you can at the time, then work to make the next one better. What's great about this post is that you've taken your experience from playing music and applied it to writing stories. If you get the chance, share your observation. It's something every artist needs to hear.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Robert =)

      I hear that same advice a lot as well. It's hard to swallow when working on your current project because it's frustrating to not have a story turn out exactly like you planned.

      What was really powerful for me with said experience was the stark contrast. It was like a painter seeing a picture they tried to draw and then drawing the same picture years later. It's rare to have that sort of comparison and it really drove the point home for me.

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