Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Call

Written Monday, 26 November 2012

The sun is shining brightly through the coffee shop windows. It feels warm against my skin, too warm I want to say, but I know that outside the air is cool and crisp. I am currently, as I write, in Montréal, on Sainte-Catherine Street. My routine has been completely turned on its head, but it is great to be back in the “big city” again, to be swept up in the vibe and energy of la grande métropole.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the creative process. Actually, I’ve been thinking a lot about my creative process, and the turns I sometimes face upon my creative path. My first “contact,” if you will, with the arts came through music. At age six I started piano lessons, and shortly thereafter I was performing in church and in the spotlight from which I tried desperately to escape. In my early twenties I turned away from music. Perhaps it was a way for me to affirm who I was. My parents saw it as an “act of rebellion” but I just had other ideas about my life. I didn’t see myself as a church organist, nor did I have any desire for a professional music career. Perhaps, too, I was just scared and that I had bought into the belief preached at me by family that a life in music, and the arts in general, was a dead end that would only lead to a life of alcoholism and drug addictions. Did I really want to end up like that? My mother prayed that I wouldn’t!

But by the time I was finishing my undergraduate degree in French literature, I knew that I wanted to be a writer. I poured my heart and soul into writing, and good things finally happened. My short stories, poems and essays were published. And then, after a lot of hard work and weathering the flood of rejection letters, my first novel was published. Writing began to bear fruit.

When I moved to Ottawa in 1999, it was the first time in my life that I didn’t have regular access to a piano. The only times I played were when I returned to Halifax to visit family. While I was pursuing my writing, there was this feeling of something missing. I wasn’t sure at the time what that something missing was. I had returned to painting, but that feeling of something missing was still there, gnawing at my heart.

And then providence moved.

I was working in the public service and I had just started a new job when one of my colleagues mentioned that the person whose position I had taken was looking to sell her baby grand piano to make room for the incoming grand piano. Without batting an eyelash, I swooped in and bought the baby grand.

That brings me back to the question of my creative process. There are times when I’m completely lost in my writing, and that is all that I can do. Any other creative projects grind to a halt. There are other times when I’m scrambling between my office and my painting studio, working on a new series. At present, I’ve finished the rewrite of a novel and have put it aside to rest. I’m working on a new novel while at the same time getting ready for an exhibit in December. But in the time that I would have normally set aside for painting, I have shown up at the piano not just to practice but to compose. And the music has been raining down on me in hard pounding sheets, and I’ve been struggling to take it all down, to let “God” or the “Universe” work through me in this new way.
Each day at the piano I sit down to practice the previous day’s composition, and I think that I couldn’t possible write another song. There isn’t any more music in me. But no sooner do my fingers dance across the keyboard that there is a couple of notes of melody that peak my interest, and I give myself over to the melody, letting it work through me. I’m not worried about what I will do with all this music; I’m just taking dictation, as it were. My creative path has led me back to the piano, to my “first love,” and I’m doing my best o simply heed the call.

1 comment:

  1. A very interesting look at your creative process! I am lucky to have such a talented friend. Hugs, H-A