Thursday, November 9, 2006


Yesterday was my piano lesson, which is almost always one-on-one. After that was my novel workshop, which included a one-on-one conference with the teacher. Reports below!


Had a good piano lesson. I didn't practice as much as I should have, but I did practice more than I've been able to lately. I've spent a lot of time on scales and arpeggios, and it showed. Both are sounding great. I played through the B-minor scale, contrary motion, like it was nobody's business.

The Bach Prelude sounded good, but she wants me to practice each measure in rhythms now. I know the notes, and I have the fingering ... now I just need for it all to feel as natural as breathing. And rhythms are the way to do that.

Deborah thought the fugue sounded good, too, and she said to keep going, but to review individual measures of the material I've already learned in whatever way I feel is necessary to maintain them. Hm. First thing that came to my mind was "rhythms." "So, should I practice these in rhythms, too?" "Not necessarily," she said. "Just trust your intuition. You know what you need to do." I sighed and said. "Yep. Rhythms." She laughed.

The Liszt sounded muddy and not so good. Two weeks ago, my pedaling was "masterful" at times. Yesterday, it sounded like I had a lead foot combined with restless leg syndrome. Pedaling comes very naturally to me, and I couldn't figure out why it was so bad yesterday. Deborah said it's most likely because, with most pieces I've played, I could get by on pedaling when it "felt" right. "Now," she said. "You're working on a piece that requires a lot more technical know-how, and you're actually going to have to practice pedaling." So, that's good. It means I'm getting better.

We worked on a Beethoven sonata for Suzuki. I'm actually enjoying this piece. Basically the idea is to learn a piece that doesn't pose any technical challenges, simply as far as playing the notes is concerned. The technical challenge, then, is all in the dynamics, the shaping, etc. And I like working on that stuff.


Class went well. Charles met with two other students before he met with me. When we finally got into the private little room and talked, he basically said something to the effect of, "You know what I think of your writing. You're a natural. You seem to know just what you're doing. My only advice for you is to keep writing. Any questions?"

"So, I'm all concerned that I'm spending too much time figuring out the life stories of every character. I don't want to spend all that time, but it seems necessary so that I can understand why they say and do what they say and do." I went on to explain that I'm drawn to the paradoxes in people's personalities, and how I need to understand the "why" of those paradoxes in my characters."

Instead of saying, "Just write, and don't worry about all that," he said, "Well, you're writing serious fiction. And you're meeting head-on the challenges that occur when one writes serious fiction. And I have no doubt that you'll get through this."

Then I said something about how I feared Chapter 3 was too chatty. He said to cut out chatty sections that didn't add to the overall arc of the story (or something like that), but that I should also realize that dialogue is a great way to move the story forward, and that I shouldn't automatically reject the idea of using lots of dialogue in places.

I never got to the question about outlining, but I did tell him about the next few chapters and what I planned to do with them, and with the novel as a whole. He just grinned and said, "You have great characters and a compelling story. And it's so true to life. You have a great project on your hands, and I'm excited for you. Just keep going."

So, that was the consultation. I felt really good afterward, because Charles wouldn't say something like that if he didn't mean it. At this point, I actually think I need confidence and motivation more than actual writing instruction and advice. And that consultation hit the spot.

I won't have any trouble setting aside three hours for writing today.

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