Saturday, October 13, 2007

Practice Makes Perfect... Or Does It?

When a writer friend, Adrianna Dane, wrote on Tuesday about her problems blogging, I suggested that practice might make it easier, like taking piano lessons.

That reminded me of all the years I spent at the keyboard learning to play. I've always needed some kind of creative outlet, and as a child, it was music. I started piano lessons when I was in elementary school and continued through high school. I had some natural advantages, esp. my long fingers, which made it easy to reach an octave, even as a child. I also loved music.

I didn't do so well with other instruments, though. In the fourth grade, we were all tested and those of us who had musical ability were selected to learn an instrument. I was one of the students, and since piano wasn't offered, I chose the violin. Big mistake. For nine months my parents suffered through my weekly screeching and squawking as I tried to coax music from the recalcitrant instrument. My folks were very happy when I gave the violin back to the school. :) To this day I'm in awe of anyone who can play violin. I know first hand how hard it is to do well.

So I scurried back to the piano, which was a more natural fit for me. My other experience with a string instrument came after I finished school and took an adult ed class in guitar playing. I could hum and strum with the class, though my singing isn't any better than my violin playing. But when the teacher decided to add a little Spanish guitar styling, I was out of luck. I just didn't have the manual dexterity for that, I suppose. Back to the piano again.

I haven't played now in about twenty years, but I think about it periodically. I was even salivating over an electronic keyboard in Costco last week, thinking I could make my own music for my book trailers. My DH was even ready to plunk down hard cash to buy it for me. Then I thought about yet another drain on my precious time, and said, "I'll think about it."

I've always needed some kind of creative outlet. In my 20's it was international folk dancing. It was lots of fun and great exercise, and I've never been thinner. In my 30's, it was needlepoint, cross stitch and crewel embroidery. I used to do beautiful needlework, if I say so myself, back in the day when I could still see to put the needle through those little holes. LOL, that's not an option any more.

Then I started writing in my 40's and discovered the old truism about practice makes perfect wasn't working so well any more. Except for string instruments, I'd always found it to be true, whether I was learning a new piano piece, intricate dance steps or tackling a complicated cross stitch pattern. OK, some things got easier as I learned the writer's craft: how to plot a story, write description, etc.

But every story presents a new challenge. Some are easier than others, but there's never any guarantee that things will go easier or that the results will be better. Maybe that uncertainty is what keeps the writing process from getting stale or boring.

Now my creative outlet is my writing. So as much as I'd love to take up the piano again, or try my hand at an electronic keyboard, I think I'd better stick with creating my stories.


No comments: