rightful sound

keyboardreflections.jpg

in her memoir, grand obsession, perri knize writes of her year-long search for The Perfect Piano. she eventually finds The Piano, refinances and remodels her house to accommodate it, but alas: when it arrives, the magical sound is gone. but the memory of that sound and the way she felt when she played that particular piano fuels her as she embarks on a journey that takes more than three years years, fills her with a plethora of knowledge about things she’d never heard of, and enlists an impressive cast of characters to “fix” her piano, to restore it to its rightful sound.

its rightful sound.

last friday, i started writing a post about the arts, and as so often happens when writing, i wound up writing something totally different. instead of a little ditty extolling some of the oft-overlooked benefits of participation in the performing arts, i crafted what i can only call a flapdoodle on what, exactly, constitutes power. is it letters after a name? a title? a hat? the number of people you have on staff? your appearance and how you carry your pocketbook?

perhaps it was the spring fever of writing that had me feeling near ready to explode, to break out, to lose the lid. in person, i’m, well, not to jinx it into dried-up dust, but i’m funny.* and a bit on the irreverent side. the things that other people are too nice to say have a way of parachuting right out of me. that’s when i’m audible. when i write, i’m ever cognizant of who might be reading this and how it might be received, so when i turn funny in writing, it kinda’ goes flat on account of over explaining every teensy little ole’ thing.

i like making people laugh, and i happen to believe there can be much important stuff like perspective and philosophy cloaked by humor. anyway, there i was, writing seriously serious about the often unseen value of performing arts when my fingers turned flapdoodle on me, and i have to tell you we had ourselves a big time, my fingers and me. then i up and mashed the “publish” button before i could talk myself out of it, and i smiled my way through the rest of the day.

see, usually i’m a little too tentative, too scared of smackdown to post anything i feel like isn’t going to be well received. but since being on twitter, i’ve met women who make me feel comfortable enough, safe enough to mash “send” because i know they’ll be patient and accepting . . . even though they might actually wonder if i’m in dire and immediate need of an exorcist.

still smiling and riding that wave of powerful confidence, i read julie daley’s post and cut loose with my heartfelt comment before i could stop myself from sharing a story that has chapped my butt since it happened. julie sure nailed it when she said it sounded like i was having a fireball day. fireball friday: yes, yes it was.

i rode the night out feeling this surge, wondering if it was really power i was enjoying, not caring what it’s called, just delighted to have it trespass. friday night i happened upon an upcoming writing workshop that required participants to submit some 20 pages of a memoir for discussion, and i – the one who consistently says “pass” when it’s my time to read, to share – i printed out the registration form, determined.

but then came saturday morning. oh lord.

i had to make a decision, and i made the wrong decision. wrong because i didn’t listen to myself. i heard that songbird of confidence – i even stopped the guy’s hand as he was going to note my selection – but i talked myself out of it, and let me tell you: i crashed and crashed hard. for 24 hours i replayed the scene over and over and over, knowing i could not undo it. it was nothing short of agony.

the good news is: it’s an inconsequential decision. totally, absolutely inconsequential as far as end results go.

the bad news is: that sweet surge of confidence is questioned, diminished, and bruised. the full-body smile is gone, dissolved into a vague memory. i listened to myself on friday and soared. didn’t listen to myself 24 hours later, and splat.

what went wrong? did i cross the line from confidence into cocky? i don’t think so. did i over-rate friday’s post? well, maybe it wasn’t my best writing – it reads a bit on the manufactured side in spots – but no. was it just the full moon? i certainly am positively affected by the full moon, but no, this was clear: i took a risk. i did something i wouldn’t normally do, and i was absolutely okay if it wasn’t well received. for the first time since becoming a word traveler, it was enough that i wrote and published it.

what do i do, i asked my manchild last night. the first paper i wrote in grad school cracked the faculty up – shoot, they asked me to submit it to literary journals for publication. (i didn’t.) do i forget funny and stick to serious, reflective tones? do i keep trying the funny, knowing that writing humor is different from doing humor? do i do both ’cause i am both?

can both humor and reflection be my rightful sound, or do i have to choose cause it’s now freshly documented: choosing is not something i’m ‘specially good at.

* now that i’ve called myself funny, we both know i’ll never again get so much as a smile. sigh.

23 Comments

  1. Amanda Farough

    Don't choose. Do both. Be reflective AND funny. Be witty and don't be afraid to stick your neck out there. Be bold. Be your beautiful self and never apologize. I think that you can be funny in person and in text without it falling flat. Just… let it flow. Be fearless. I love what you write. Consider my socks rocked.

  2. whollyjeanne

    you look so adorable in rocked socks. xo

  3. Julie

    Hey darling, were you listening to that roommate again, rather than your Self?
    You are one hell of a writer…and, one hell of a woman.
    What if what wants to come out is all over the map? What if you have a voice that has many facets to it? What if whatever you write is just right?
    The thing I am hearing the most is that you know what your self is saying…it's just a matter of listening to you and choosing what it has to say, and not that lovely roommate you share life with.
    I really love this post. I hear questioning, wondering, listening, reflecting…all good things.
    One thing I do know, is you are a fireball and don't put water on those flames. I love reading your fire, having what you say burn through.
    Like Amanda, you've rocked my socks…
    Love, love, love you, dear.

  4. Julie

    Hey darling, were you listening to that roommate again, rather than your Self?
    You are one hell of a writer…and, one hell of a woman.
    What if what wants to come out is all over the map? What if you have a voice that has many facets to it? What if whatever you write is just right?
    The thing I am hearing the most is that you know what your self is saying…it's just a matter of listening to you and choosing what it has to say, and not that lovely roommate you share life with.
    I really love this post. I hear questioning, wondering, listening, reflecting…all good things.
    One thing I do know, is you are a fireball and don't put water on those flames. I love reading your fire, having what you say burn through.
    Like Amanda, you've rocked my socks…
    Love, love, love you, dear.

  5. Kathy

    Rightful sound? Right full sound? Ripe full sound?
    Let's make something up: It's in the resonance and the tuning.
    Resonance is the instrument and how it is cared for. Tuning is calibration that requires constant attention. Every night, as part of my evening Reiki and prayer ritual, I re-tune. I release energies that are not mine that gathered about me during the day and I realign myself with Divine essence and soul purpose. I ask for help with this. I'm looking to find my way back home to me. Every day I go out and get lost again. My strings get stretched from being played. I need retuning.

    That's what I hear you doing here.

    There is this one amazing you. You have your own unique resonance and beautiful voice which is, in a way, your soulprint. We come to know you by that unique sound. We love that sound of YOU. Whether (and when) it comes through as humor, reflective, feistiness, or any other form, if it is genuine then we are drawn to it, because we are drawn to the True. When you are true to you, to the whole of you, we know it. We find ourselves in it.

    You weren't cocky. You were playing. And sometimes when we play, we bruise a shin. But that ain't gonna send you back to the couch with the remote control! We all want you out here playing full on with us. Courage loves fellow brave hearts, like yours.

  6. ronnadetrick

    You say: “they might actually wonder if i’m in dire and immediate need of an exorcist.”

    I say: “Oh, if only we'd follow your lead, live from our hearts, laugh our asses off, and tell the damn truth to ourselves and, of course, others.”

    You've done all these things – brilliantly, poignantly, eloquently, hilariously, perfectly – and then some!.

    Thank you!

  7. emma

    A) You will always get a smile from me.
    B) Just keep tuning your frequency until you can hear yourself all the time.
    C) Until then, put down the whip and take comfort in knowing that I (and many others, I am sure) are simply nodding in agreement and support, having also frequently travelled the road from sky to asphalt within 24 (or fewer) hours numerous times.

    Beautiful, raw and generally awesome post! xo

  8. susanreep

    I do hope that a have a flapdoodle soon. I love the sound of that. HOW many times do we all need to learn and remember to listen to ourselves? You know, you don't have to figure out what kind of writer to be b/c you are the kind of writer you are. an interesting writer. i do a writing workshop occasionally with a fellow called Nick Belardes – it's the Random Writer's Workshop – and I find that I do have a writing style. we all do. and while we can improve what we do, hey – we are who we are. i love who you are. i love irreverence. and i love flapdoodles whatever they are. i love that you give me these things.

  9. whollyjeanne

    this was one of those times when it was possible to “quantify” the effects of listening to the roomie instead of Self. i think that's why it smacked me over the head so hard this time. so clearly.

  10. whollyjeanne

    i love your nightly ritual. love that you go out the next day and “get lost again.” also love the soothing salve of your words and how you stuck to the metaphor throughout. impressive (i tend to throw metaphors in like i'm making vegetable soup.) and thank you. especially, mostly, and always: thank you.

  11. whollyjeanne

    i thank you, ronna. as always, your words quiet, ground, and fortify me.

  12. whollyjeanne

    how many times do i have to get the memo? that's the real question. like i said, i think it hit so hard time time 'cause there was something tangible that couldn't be denied. good thing it was totally, absolutely inconsequential, though.

  13. whollyjeanne

    how many times: exactly. a random writer's workshop sounds like fun. like the word “random.” a lotta times you go random, you get flapdoodle.

  14. Sheila

    Humor and reflection are your rightful sound…sounds like your moving in the right direction in terms of letting your writing flow and putting it out there…it isn't an easy path but you have what it takes IMHO 🙂

  15. whollyjeanne

    i appreciate your humble opinion – and not just because you're the only woman i know who is fluent in fisheggs.

  16. Jennifer Prentice

    Personally? I admired your Friday free write! I read it twice just to soak it in and after the second helping I thought “Man. I wish I was bold enough to write like that.” Odd how you can inspire people in moments that you, yourself question, huh?
    Thanks for being open and writing things that are true to you!

  17. whollyjeanne

    i swear, sometimes i think doubt is my middle name. that or maybe i need to get out more. thanks, sugar. “second helping.” you are just precious.

  18. Kate

    when I figured out how to check out my 'statistics' or what have you for my blog, I saw it had received 72 'not funny''s– which is funny. I was happy that many people had seen it. I called it Amusing Fire as a pun on O for a Muse of Fire! (because it amuses me.) It never even occurred to me that someone would assume it was supposed to be humor writing….

    I love the humor and reflection in your writing… love your writing period, whatever mood you happen to be in. Excited about the prospect of reading more fireball posts… (btw– been having trouble commenting lately. I'm a bit technically challenged.)

  19. Square-Peg Karen

    Oh Jeanne, Oh JEANNE! I just love you – what more can I say?

    I get this sense of effervescence in you – like you aren't going to be able to keep yourself back from expressing your YOU-ness for long. Sometimes it might get stuck in the neck of the bottle, but it's coming out – the YOU, the delightful – no matter which/what way you write or talk YOU – and we all drink up your words, your YOU-ness like champagne.

    That's it – champagne – that's what I sense as the essence of YOU — bubbly, celebratory, much-loved and treasured…yea, that fits!!

  20. Bonnie

    These pianos make themselves known to us – and first off, I will have to check out this very memoir you mention as I've been pining for a lost piano myself!

    The piano belonged to my seriously hard of hearing friend – the 94 year-old I mention in my most recent post. When she passed away, I contemplated keeping her piano but I was much younger then, didn't have the space, don't myself play and I was already being called “crazy” so I tried this idea of “detachment” and I let it go. But that piano stuck with me.

    Though my friend was severely hearing impaired, she could play that sucker as if she heard every note perfectly. It sounded amazing to my ear. To hers as well, that is, until I removed the newspaper. (She'd placed newspaper over the strings to keep dust out and so her tiny cat could walk and sleep in there!) Knowing sound somewhat, I figured that given her hearing loss…she'd heard it that way (with the newspaper) for so many years ~ she needed it the way it was in order to play her beautiful music! Covering it with newspaper wasn't “right” by anyone else's standards…except to her ear. And somehow, when it sounded right to her…it sounded right to all of us! (At her 95th birthday, she played quite a round!)

    I guess I'm thinking about your last question, “can both humor and reflection be my rightful sound…” and I'm thinking it's whatever sounds good to your ear is the way to go.

    Like my friend and her piano…you sound good to mine ~

    (and oh man, I just can't resist it: “so when i turn funny in writing, it kinda' goes flat…” and I think how a piano has both flats and sharps 😉

  21. whollyjeanne

    loveyoureallymeanit.

  22. whollyjeanne

    amusing fire – now that's funny;) i'd often wondered the kindling for your blog name. hope your technological woes are soon a thing of the past. always enjoy seeing your name here or over at your place.

  23. whollyjeanne

    sharps and flats – good catch, bonnie. yes, yes: you have to read this book. you will love it for oh so many reasons. love the story about your friend – and when you read this book, you'll understand a bit more about how deaf and hard-of-hearing people can hear. don't you hate it when you practice detachment at just the wrong time? geez. i hope you do rev up a search for that lost piano. do it, girlfriend. do it. (and be sure to write about it so we can all enjoy the search with you.) xo

2 Pingbacks

  1. uberVU - social comments
  2. unabashedly female · There’s No Voice Like Yours

Pull up a chair why don't you, and let's talk . . .

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: