Working My Way Back

Jo Seated on the Old Sofa from "The Most Beloved American Writer"I have forgotten how to write — if I even knew how to do so in the first place.

Part of the problem is the Internet. A large portion of my job involves copying and pasting. The rest of the time I’m condensing a story’s main point into a headline, or a 140-character tweet, or I’m emailing reporters and editors. That hardly counts as writing, now, does it?

The other part is that I’ve become lazy. Rock and Roll Grammarian, back when that was a thing, was a labor of love (though that may not have been apparent to my readers). I spent a goodly amount of time thinking about each post before I even started typing. Because I edit at the sentence or even word level — a terrible habit that I’m determined to break — the typing itself often took hours, even for a humble little 500-word post. So Rock and Roll Grammarian was work — but it was work that I loved.

My job now is demanding. I start the day at 7 a.m. and frequently don’t get home until after 7 p.m. I’m often drained by that point, but the things I’m doing to unwind — idly scrolling through Facebook and Twitter posts, fiddling with iPad apps, watching HGTV and drinking wine — aren’t really helping me unwind. I might as well spend some of those off hours writing.

And playing the piano.

You see, I was once an accomplished musician. It also was a labor of love. My freshman year of college I practiced a minimum of four hours a day. In high school, the weeks leading up to a big competition or recital were intense — painstakingly playing the hardest passages, measure by measure, over and over, until I could quite literally perform the piece with my eyes closed. Piano was work — but it was work that I loved.

Yesterday I bought a Roland digital piano. It was expensive, and I’ll have to scale back my spending for some time to make up for it. But I know without question it was worth it. I played for hours yesterday — Scriabin, Chopin, Beethoven, scales, arpeggios — and with each passing note, I felt a little more like myself. I devoted 30 or so minutes alone to the C scale and that of its relative minor, A minor. It will take some time to get my technique back, but the results of that half hour are proof that I can get it back.

The same goes for writing. And so, my plan is to do a little of each every day — a little piano, a little blogging. Hold me to it.

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