A little while ago, one of the members of the North York Writers invited me to blog on this site. I wondered what I could possibly contribute – I’m not a writer after all but an amateur musician and a librarian! I understand that you begin a sentence with a capital letter and end it with some punctuation or other, but really, that’s about it!
Then I thought, as a musician I do know a little about the process of pursuing a craft: the attention to technical details, the continuous practice required to maintain current skills and to develop new ones, and the problems of social isolation because of daily practice schedules. Lately, the mid-winter “blahs” have set in and I’ve been having trouble just finding the inspiration required to keep going! So, here are a few things I’ve been doing to try to “keep it fresh”.
I can’t always find time in my day to do all the technical work I know I need to do in order to play the pieces I love. So, even if I have only 15 minutes, I pick just one thing I would like to improve and I work just on that. Yesterday I spent my 15 minutes playing the A-flat major scale with the most beautiful tone and best tone quality possible! This left me with the feeling that I’d accomplished at least one small thing that day.
Perhaps as writers, your focused attention might include some writing exercise. Here are a few titles from Toronto Public Library collections to get you going:
Inspiration is a nebulous thing and very different for everyone. When I’m looking to be inspired I like to listen to other musicians. They might be flute players, but they might be violinists, pianists or singers. They all have something important to show me about the joy of music-making. Going to a live performance is best because at its heart, music is a social art created by social animals (us)!
Writers are pretty lucky if they live in Toronto. There are live author readings almost any night of the week! The readings given by Eh List Authors at the Toronto Public Libraries are just one great way to find inspiration. Come and hear Scotiabank Giller Prize Winner Esi Edugyan read from her novel “Half-Blood Blues” at North York Central Library on Wednesday April 4th, 2012 at 7 p.m. in the Auditorium.
Recently I’ve come up against a big brick wall with my breathing – that’s right – breathing! I play the flute and breathing is to the flute what the bow is to the violin. It’s what makes or breaks the whole language of the instrument. Now, it’s not the problem I want to draw attention to, but the solution I chose – I took a lesson with a well-known teacher who was invited to Toronto by a local Flute Association. They regularly invite teachers to provide workshops, concerts and other learning opportunities for local flute players. This wonderful teacher spent one hour with me – listened – and worked with me through both physical and musical exercises, to find the pathway to a solution for me! Will I still need to work on this problem? Yes! But now I know how to work on the problem!
No matter what your writing preferences are, there are bound to be local writing associations for you. Almost all appear to offer workshops:
Of course your Library is also a terrific resource. Keep your eye out for the Writer in Residence :
North York Central Library will also feature 2 writing workshops in April 2012. One with writer Elizabeth Ruth is a Keep Toronto Reading program designed to help WRITERS write about local setting. How can you make the setting come alive and become another character in your work?
Later in the month, writer Rosemary Aubert will provide writers an opportunity to explore poetry writing:
Enjoy the World Around You
Sometimes I just get too absorbed and hyper-focused on certain issues – maybe you do too! Remember to get out and enjoy life. Make a new friend, try something new, see a movie! This kind of break allows me to then go back to my playing with renewed vigor.
Happy writing everyone!