I recently read that Toni Morrison didn’t started writing novels until she was in her late 30s, a single mother with two boys. She got up at 4am every morning to write before work. I find stories like that very inspiring for about 30 seconds or as long as it takes me to remember that I can’t even sacrifice an episode of Homeland to do something life-transforming, let alone two or three hours sleep. Take the past week, I have plenty to do but none of it has imminent deadlines attached, with the result that I spend any available time writing detailed to-do lists and researching things I will never ever need to know about (tips on running a marathon in the rain anyone?), obsessing about how to decorate the spare room in a house in a small rural town that I will never move to, and reading about the life of Joe Strummer (born in Ankara, bet you didn’t know that).
The Easter break was a good opportunity to do some of that practice that I’m always complaining I don’t have time to do. But I had important imaginary house buying to do. Consequently, when I had my first lesson in a number of weeks it was a bit painful. We were looking at Sibelius Symphony Number 1, which I’ll be playing with the orchestra this term. It’s not, on the whole, technically difficult but there were four slightly tricky runs in the section we worked on:
I fluffed them, the teacher and I laughed, we played them very slowly together, I wrote in a couple of fingerings and then I tried to play them back, and that’s when my fingers stopped doing what they were told. I must have tried more than 20 times. At home, alone, I’d probably have sworn a bit, had some leftover Easter egg and come back to it later. Not an option here and by my 10th failed attempt my teacher had run out of encouraging things to say. I don’t know to describe how excruciating it is getting the same thing wrong 20 times in a row while someone is watching you. But imagine someone is standing two metres away and throwing a beach ball at you and you just keep on dropping it – funny the first couple of times. Still, I wonder if the memory will be enough to motivate me to practice it properly before next time but I guess it depends on how much good TV is coming up over the next couple of weeks.