Monday, June 6, 2011

Johannes and Me

This weekend I took pity on my poor, neglected violin. We haven't seen each other in at least a month and I've been promising (whispers through the lid of the closed case) to give the instrument a little bit of attention. The thing about musical instruments is that, when you don't play them for a while, you lose your chops. And you are aware that as time passes you are losing your chops, and you know that the next time you pick up your axe you won't be as good as the last time you played and that acts as a disincentive which only serves to make you leave the instrument in the case for another day. And so on.

Anyway, despite my trepidation I took my 97 year-old violin (doesn't look a day over 60) out of its case and played some 3-octave scales and arpeggios and an etude from Wohlfahrt and a bit of Sevcik (oh, Ottokar, how I've missed you) and then it was Brahms' Allegro risoluto from the Sonatina for Violin and Piano in G Major, Op. 100. Yes, a little rough, especially where the key changes to the flat side, but really not so awful. After that I played a bit of Bach and some other easier stuff and then I listened to Vivaldi and made soup. Which was all quite fine and hopefully it won't be another month before I play violin again.

In dull writing news, I am about 45% through my first draft. On Friday I wrote a detailed outline for the next three chapters in the draft but yesterday evening I found the outline for this section of the novel that I'd written two months or so ago, and the first outline is much much better so I'm pitching the new outline and using the old one. As I wrote to my fabulous agent this morning, my conception of what's possible in a novel keeps evolving, and I think this is going to be something really special when it's written. Possibly I'll be done with the draft by the end of August, and then I might be finished with rewrites by early next year. I don't know. I find that I'm not in a huge rush with this piece, which is likely going to be some sort of transitional work that will hopefully usher in a Golden Age of Bailey Novels. We'll see. Maybe I'm just taking my time because I'm old and tired and distracted by the flowers in the garden and the songbirds outside and the electric guitar and violin and other people's books.


  1. I used to play. I know what you mean about the growing disincentive. It grew so large for me that I have not played in many years. However, I was never very good to start with, so the world will miss it less than I.

  2. You could always be like Scalzi and buy a ukelele! Though I used to work in a music store that stocked ukeleles and the tuning always baffled me.

    I am no great shakes as a violinist. I'm always attempting pieces that are enough beyond my abilities that they sound iffy. And I don't play often enough to have memorized any of the stuff that's actually at my level which means I'm almost always sight reading music I can't quite play. So the world isn't mourning when my violin goes back into its case.