Etudes

Back when I was an itty bitty clause, I played the violin. At the beginning of a good practice day I would play a scale in the key of the piece I was playing. (Note: These words once were so familiar to me, but key, scale, etude are now foreign, half-remembered.) This reminded me what was sharp and what was flat. Then, if I was being a good little violinist, I would play an etude. My ear had been reminded of intonation, and the etude was a simplish piece that helped me with one technique or another. It warmed up the fingers. Once I was warmed up, I would begin to play whatever piece I was learning.

This blog is my etude and my scales. I’ve spent an hour pacing, procrastinating, bothering the dog who would rather be asleep thank you very much, seeing whether visiting family is up so I can distract myself with them (no dice, they got in at 2 am or something crazy like that), snacking, Interneting. But then I found an interview with Eula Biss. I’ve been obsessed with her essays recently, in part because I am going to teach them (do you see how I coolly slipped that in like I know the fuck what I’m doing) and in part because they are a model to me. [Aside to Teri: the Biss essay discusses Laura Ingalls Wilder, read it for that alone.]

Biss writes about the chaos she encounters in the middle of an essay and how she is sure she has made a mess of it this time. But she has enough experience, she says, that she knows she is eventually going to come out the other side. The longer the work, the longer the period of chaos. I think my whole Fucker has been one long period of chaos, but I still think I will come out the other side. At this point I can’t afford to believe otherwise.

And  now that I’ve sat down for a whole 10 minutes, have warmed up my fingers on the keys, gotten my ear reacquainted with the tenor of today’s work, I think I’m going to go write. At least until the triplets show up demanding attention.

What are you doing today?

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7 responses to “Etudes

  1. 1) You should have married a frenchman (no offence, DP) as I did, and then ‘etude’ would have different connotations
    2) you should also explain the reference to triplets or your readers are going to think you write lousy fiction.

  2. Today (Saturday), I was planning on doing the library gig, readying a Sunday post, gamma reading a manuscript for a friend, and maybe doing a little duckwork.

    See you on the other side. 🙂

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