Why I Don’t Speak Cello.

I’m on vacation, visiting family, friends and old college pals in my home state of Virginia, so I’m offering one of my most popular posts:

On Tuesday morning, a cello sat on the sidewalk outside my house. I considered engaging in a musical conversation, but instead rushed off to work.

On Wednesday morning, the sidewalk looked up at me with empty eyes.

**   **   **   **   **   **

I have a confession to make. Lately, I haven’t been practicing what I preach on this blog. Circumstances in my life at the moment have had me working long hours six or seven days a week, every week, for a while. Life has been particularly stressful. And I haven’t been maintaining a creative practice.

This blog itself does give me a bit of an outlet. But I haven’t devoted any time at all to what I call my soul-writing. The fragments of fiction and poetry, the phrases of metaphor and memory my Muse hands to me. Moments of creativity that may become pieces of a larger project or may just feed my deepest self by merely existing.

But this past weekend, I didn’t work at all, taking two days in a row off for the first time in quite a while. And guess what happened? My Muse took the opportunity to begin nudging me. Or maybe he’s been nudging me all along, and I just haven’t been listening. At any rate, a couple of metaphorical micro-stories flowed into my mind. And once I started writing them down, more arrived.

Perhaps not surprisingly, they all speak to issues of creativity and writing. I’ve shared one above, and I plan to continue sharing them and write about the issue each describes. “Why I Don’t Speak Cello” illustrates my current period of overworked stress. Something extraordinary sits on the periphery of my life, and I’ve been refusing to engage with it. Creativity is always extraordinary, you know.

My life hasn’t slowed down, in spite of the fact that I actually had a real weekend. And my stress level remains high. But this little story my Muse handed me reminds me that I can still take 15 minutes to talk to the cello before I rush to work.

15 minutes a day. That’s how you learn to speak cello—or become a writer, or maintain a creative practice—no matter how much crazy life throws at you.

And if you do ignore the cello until it disappears, just remember to stop and talk to the timpani and the trombone when they arrive.

Copyright © Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World, http://www.stranglingmymuse.com


3 Responses to “Why I Don’t Speak Cello.”

  1. 1 textwanderer June 13, 2010 at 7:58 am

    I really enjoyed reading your post especially “Why I don’t speak Cello”. It was sweet and holds so much meaning.

    You are right, we could all spare 15 minutes a day our of our crazy lives to get the creative juices flowing. I have been trying to do that as well recently.

    I look forward to seeing what else you write. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. 2 Dan Goodwin June 13, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Sandy I agree, I think spending at least 15 mins every day creating is the single most powerful technique to being as creative as we can be.

    Once you’ve built that habit, you can expand to 30, 60 minutes and beyond. The secret is not the 15 mins, but committing to it every day.

    I like the Cello analogy and what you said about talking to the other instruments that turn up too. : )


  3. 3 stranglingmymuse June 14, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Thanks for your comments, textwanderer and Dan! I’m glad you like the cello analogy. I’ve found throughout my life that if I commit to writing daily or at least nearly-daily, wonderful things happen — even when I can only manage short creative spurts. Happily, I’m in a good daily practice now, unlike when I originally wrote this post. Best of luck to both of you in your creative pursuits!


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Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and Writer.

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