Weird title, isn’t it? And yet, this is the title of the last movement of the last symphony Beethoven wrote. He was old and so deaf he could not conduct the orchestra playing his creation. He was on stage, however, though unable to hear the music. One of his soloists had to turn him around to face the audience when the piece was over so he could see the standing ovation he was receiving. If you have ever heard this piece of music (and play it loud!), you’ll find yourself swept away by the hope and glory of the music.
Life is not easy or fair. What a crippling irony that Beethoven—the possessor of one of the finest musical geniuses of all time—had to suffer from deafness. But he did not stop creating, even though he could only hear the symphonic music in his mind.
My challenge to you here is to write about a contrast you’ve experienced where you had to struggle with tragedy and find your own way to survive and then thrive. Can you write an Ode to Joy?
Long ago there was a magazine called the Saturday Review. It was devoted to literary news, articles, and short pieces. One of the regular columns showed where famous authors wrote–one author and setting per week. We saw a photo of their writing space and whatever they gathered around themselves when they wrote.
How about sharing something about your writing habits? Where do you write? Describe your favorite writing tools (computer? tablet? special pen?). What time of day do you tend to write? Do you use any writing aids (tequila? favorite smoke? required stimulants?). How about music? Is it a requirement or something that must be avoided? What kind of music? Show us your chair, your desk or table, your room. What else is in that room? What is on the walls? Any special lighting? What else makes up your particular writing habits?
We’ve been writing together for quite a while. You’ve all described a burning candle; now show us your writing routine.
Today is the anniversary of my little sister’s death. She was fifty-eight when she died, with two young adult children and a loving husband. She died of cancer, after a long fight. I write today to fight back time. It keeps passing. The years when she was here grow ever more distant. Memories become reduced to repeated sentences that we use to conjure her up. Thin, so thin. Photos are also finite, though we have many; but there are no new ones now, showing her aging, attending graduations, creating new art, celebrating holidays as only she could. I weep but do not bleed. I would bleed if that would bring her back, but I know it will not. I line up these words on the page and conjure her one more time. Sarah.
Please share your words about a loved one that you have lost.
We all run up against that wall. The excuses are endless: I’m tired. I can’t have one good idea. I’m too busy. I’m not feeling all that great. Everybody needs something. We had guests. Work has been a bear. And on and on.
I’m guilty too, not of all the above, but of enough of them to feel like a good head slap is in order. After all, what about “Keep going!” didn’t I understand? Didn’t I remember anything I taught?
So it finally hit me today. I’ve been waiting for inspiration. I’ve been waiting for that great plot focus to build around. I’ve been waiting for War and Peace without realizing I have what I need to get on with it. It’s odd, since I already have around twelve chapters. Nonetheless, the doubts crept in and I stopped. No more. I’m pushing on no matter how lousy I think it is. Took me long enough.
So my challenge for today is for you to share how it’s going. Where are you stuck and what are you going strong on? Even if all you’re writing are short pieces, are you at least collecting them in an organized way? What’s your balancing act?
Life (hopefully) is long. While we’re here, we do so many things. It occurred to me that it would be fun to count them, or at least estimate. Here are how many times I think I’ve:
–Changed my sheets: 2863
–Made meatballs: 136
–Been bitten by mosquitos: 613
–Eaten sushi: 1
–Changed a tire: 6
–Felt like tearing my hair out while working: 1294
–Laughed even though I was all alone: 33,474
How many times have you done things?
P.S. Excuse my absence. These winter months are very busy for online courses. Even so, I keep having ideas, so I hope you’ll try one more. –Ann