Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Musicians and Authors

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at Montreal Guitar Festival/Competition: credit:

If you think it’s rough publishing a book, waiting for critical response, hoping for the best – then you haven’t entered a music competition. Weird concept, the idea of competing for a music prize, but this is how careers are launched in the classical music world. You can go from zero to ten overnight if you pull off a win.

I just got back from participating (as an author, not a musician) in the Montreal International Guitar Festival and Competition organized by the amazing Patrick Kearney and his team. What a riot - for me. Jangled nerves, sweeps of excitement, inspiration, and yes, disappointment, for the other participants who were guitarists entering the competition and taking master classes.

I got interviewed on stage about my new novel, The Blue Guitar, that takes place – hey, what a coincidence – at an international classical guitar competition in Montreal.

During the weekend I’d pass young guys practicing in the hallway and the whiff of tension was strong. Some would be pacing or laughing nervously. They’d remind each other that it was not tragic to muff a line of music. Life would not grind to a stop. Hard to believe this advice when you’ve flown in from elsewhere on the continent, paid for hotel etc, and now find yourself playing in front of a trio of top-flight, internationally known guitarists. These judges sit imposingly at a table facing competitors, noting all aspects of the performance.

Do or die.
Maybe I’m exaggerating. Maybe I’m sort of jealous.
We writers natter about the difficulty of our lives, sitting alone in small rooms for years on end with little feedback, making endless revisions, never knowing if we are on track or deluding ourselves. Sure, it’s hard. Sometimes it is REALLY hard. But let’s face it, when we publish a book it’s out of our hands. Whatever happens to it happens ‘out there’, and we can be safely at home, eating lunch as the reviews appear. We don’t have to walk on a stage, spotlight gleaming, hoping against hope that nerves won’t make our hands shake, that we won’t have a memory slip, or bust a string in the midst of a creamy Adagio.

Listen to Jonah Snyder interview Ann Ireland at the Montreal Guitar Fest.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Ann Ireland

Ann Ireland is the author of A Certain Mr. Takahashi, The Instructor and Exile. Her most recent novel is The Blue Guitar. She lives in Toronto.

Go to Ann Ireland’s Author Page