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Terez Mertes

I’d rather just think about it

March 1, 2011 at 1:29 AM

I’m gathering ideas and words for a new project. It’s amusing to note the way the best ideas will show up only when I’m not here, at the keyboard, to catch them. Driving is the number one culprit. Showering, too, but in general, the greater the distance from the computer, my office, the more fabulous the ideas seem. They capture my imagination, hold my thoughts ransom. I can hardly wait to get home, to my favorite work environment. Racing from the car into the house, trembling, letting my coat fall to the floor in my haste to get to the computer, get those pearls right out. 

Too late. Gone, having flitted away like phantom butterflies. Even the notes I’d hastily scrawled can’t conjure up the muse’s return. The idea was so good, so right. Where did it go? How is it possible to sit there for the next hour (or day or week), writing shamefully pedestrian prose, feeling nothing inside?

The violin is in cahoots with my writing muse. They whisper and laugh together and fall silent when I glance their way. The violin seems to have gotten heavier, or at least the task of practicing has. Once again, what is a pleasure, a delight, to ponder through the course of the day, becomes incrementally less appealing the closer practice time approaches. As I dutifully make my way through scales and those tedious vibrato exercises, I try to recall the excitement, the fire and curiosity that drove me to the instrument in the first place.

In both cases, I understand the process, the importance of a daily routine with realistic goals. I recognize that one doesn’t wait for the muse to show up. You show up, period. On some levels, a muse-less violin practice is easier. It is an interpretive art. Repetition and scales are an important part of the craft. Writing, however, is a creative art and anything goes. And when it’s bad, it can be really, really bad. (Trust me here.) But I remind myself that I can’t revise what I haven’t first written. And that no one has to see that first draft. 

The reward I can count on, then, is not the euphoria, the internal chorus of celestial angels that burst into song following a Really Good Session. It is the more pedestrian, quiet yet decisive “There” of having met my goal. Forty-five minutes on the violin. 1000 words added to my new work-in-progress. It might be a spectacularly lame effort. Or just uninspired. But, hey. I showed up. I did more than just “think about it.”   

This blog seems short and/or rather prosaic. It was a lot bigger in my head. It was a symphony of insight, of ideas sure to make its readers gasp at its profundity, its clarity, its ability to be both illuminating and witty. "That Terez," I could imagine people saying. "Does she ever have a way with words." As I was jogging earlier today, it was all there in my mind. It was really, really good. Interesting to note that it was also accompanied by the strains of violin music. Really great violin music. Music I was suddenly capable of playing.

It’s such a nice world in my head. But here, at the keyboard (or fingerboard), is the one that counts. So, here is where you'll see me, tomorrow, ready to try again.


© 2011 Terez Rose

From Tom Holzman
Posted on March 1, 2011 at 1:56 PM

That Terez!  Does she ever have a way with words.  You have wonderfully expressed one of life's great glories and frustrations:  the ability to have more wonderful things in your head than you can possibly express even if you are as creative as you are.  And, it is usually when you are not doing the creative activities themselves that it all comes to you.  I certainly get most of my insights while exercising.  And, imagine Schumann, who dreamed all this wonderful music while sleeping but could not remember it to write it down when he awakened.  I do not have your creative abilities in the arts, but I still have some of the same issues creatively in my music, but even more, in my work and intellectual life.  Thanks for putting it so well.

From Anne Horvath
Posted on March 1, 2011 at 2:43 PM

"That Terez, does she ever have a way with words."

Yes, she does.


From Terez Mertes
Posted on March 1, 2011 at 3:49 PM

Oh, the opening lines of your responses, Tom and Anne, made me laugh! : )

Tom, bravo and "agreed!" on what you wrote as well. Equally insightful. And just great to hear your musings.

From Emily Grossman
Posted on March 4, 2011 at 10:38 PM

All I can say is, I understand completely, Terez!  I'm glad you took the time to express how you feel about your attempt to express.  I totally relate.

From Terez Mertes
Posted on March 6, 2011 at 2:49 PM

 Emily, Emily, Emily. Thank you. : )

(A quirky sort of reply, but I figure you get that too.)

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