Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Practice, Practice, Practice

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Mallorca: Pretty hard

6. Practice, Practice, Practice
When I pick up my classical guitar these days, I’m aware that whatever ground I covered a dozen years ago while taking lessons has been lost. The left wrist is fried, ditto for the thumb. Too much typing. Playing music goes back to childhood and the years of being a teenager when I was obsessed with classical music, sneaking into rehearsals of the opera company, the symphony, chamber music groups, hacking around on an array of instruments: oboe, classical guitar, cello, piano...there was even a double bass one summer. It’s how I got through high school, how I made sense of those years. I loved closing the door to my bedroom and tackling something hard, playing the same bar or phrase over and over until I’d nailed it. Not a wasted effort, despite a mediocre talent. It trained me up for novel writing, an enterprise that entails tenacity to the umpteenth degree, and many hours alone in a room. I got used to working alone, to the idea of a ‘project’ that felt interior and intimate, and full of frustration as well as giddy joy and satisfaction.

These days when I get stuck on a scene in the work-in-progress, I step across the room, pick up the guitar, and play a bit. When I go back to the computer after hacking my way through ‘Mallorca’ my head’s cleaned out. The scene seems to know what to do. You may have your own tricks for getting unstuck.Feel free to leave a comment .

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.

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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