Thursday, 8 September 2011

Scintillate, Scintillate...

Scintillate, scintillate, globule vivific,
Fain would I fathom thy nature specific
Loftily poised in the ether capacious
Strongly resembling a gem carbonaceous!

My son is learning to play the violin, and this week the song of choice is the one written above.
As I listened to the tentative first few notes, the squeaking of a misplaced bow across the strings, I was reminded of my own initial attempts at writing.

The first few times my fingers were hesitant, my thoughts disjointed. Nothing seemed to fit. The words that at times could flow so easily seemed to have evaporated like mist in the morning sun. I worried and fretted. Could God really have asked me to write; knowing my limitations, my lack of writing education?

My son queried me this week on the same issues. As we drove to his first lesson, he voiced the same fears. What if I'm not good enough? What if, even after I practice and learn and listen, I still can't do it? I listened to his pleas and was instantly transported back to my first critique.

I had sent my precious story to my writing group for their comments. Each day I waited for their response. Would they like my story, even a little bit? Would they make the requisite 'nice' comments so my feelings wouldn't be hurt, or would they tear it apart and announce my writing would  never measure up to the world's standards.

You can imagine my mixed feelings when my story came back. I shook as my finger clicked on the email and it opened to reveal...they did like it. They actually liked it and thought it had promise. 

Wow. I related that story to Pierce as we drove to his violin teacher. I reminded him that perfect practice makes perfect, while rubbish practice makes rubbish. He smiled a little, gave me a hug, took a deep breath and walked through her door.

My husband and I sat outside and listened. Chickens roamed around us pecking for food. Sheep grazed in the paddocks and a ginger cat sunned herself on the stone steps. 

We sat and waited. Soon, the sound we were waiting for touched our ears, and our hearts.

He played. Tentatively at first, and then with joy as his worries melted away.

Tears filled my eyes with every squeak,every misplaced note. My son had listened and won.   

What fears have you conquered in your life?

Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are
Up, above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are.

Lee Franklin lives in Western Australia with her husband and violin-playing son. She loves to read, cook and sing to her cows. They, on the other hand, are very glad they're tone deaf. 


  1. Oh, that hit home, Lee. My husband and son are both violinists! Yes, at times it's difficult listening to them play different tunes in different rooms when I'm in the middle. But when they get together to play duets...ahhh!

    As for beginning with writing, I kind of look on it as a muscle that needs exercise. Yo can only improve as you move from stage to stage. And as you've already discovered, it does your heart good when you can connect with others in this way.

  2. Wonderful post Lee! I'm thrilled for your little musician :) We also have a violinist in our midst, and even the off notes are beautiful to my ears because I love the music maker and I appreciate his efforts ;)

    I am not a fan of travelling alone. Last year this time I overcame a deep fear when I flew to Indianapolis for the ACFW conference. There was a lot of praying that went on before and during that time, and I saw God's provision and care for me in places far removed from my comfort zone. :)

  3. This is so true! When I first started speaking after my book was published,
    I thought my heart was going to pop out of my chest, but now I just love it!
    What a beautiful story Lee, I love the way you set the picture so the readers can imagine where you are! :)

  4. That was a wonderful post Lee! It touched a chord in me, in more ways than one. I started to learn to play the violin when I was 12. And have had much pleasure with it over many years... although it now sits untouched on my cupboard shelf. (Shhhh! Don't tell! I do plan to bring it down one of these days!) I do rememember the many squeaky sounds I made when learning and wonder how my parents managed!

    Thank you for your twinkling thoughts and for "scintillating" through your writing!
    Loved it.

  5. I can relate to this post Lee. I learned piano for many years and I remember sitting at that thing for two hours every day, repeating scales and pieces until they were note perfect. Now, I need to apply that same dedication to my writing...there's a challenge!

  6. Thanks Lee. How true that to practice perfect makes perfect and to practice rubbish makes rubbish! A great reminder for me to make everything I write perfect for it is all practice! What a scintillating thought!

  7. Ah, Rita, you've nailed it perfectly. I tell my clients the mind is like playing a musical instrument...the more you practice, the more you think outside of your comfort zone, the easier it gets. It must be wonderful to hear the family duets. :)

    Wow, Dorothy. I don't think I'm brave enough to travel to the US by myself. It was hard enough going to Sydney recently without my bodyguards. I'm so glad you went though, the benefits outweigh the pain of being uncomfortable.

    I'm so glad you enjoy speaking, Lynne. It takes a very special kind of person to not only enjoy it, but speak to the audience not at them. The violin teacher's house is an octagonal shape and always makes me smile every time we drive by.

    I love listening to violin music, Anusha. Though, according to our music teacher, it's fast declining in popularity. The current thought in people wanting to learn a musical instrument is that it's too slow. People want immediacy in everything they do. Such a shame.

    Amanda, you're so right. If we apply the same dedication in all areas of our lives, we'd accomplish so much more. Sadly, dedication seems to be another dying art form. :)

  8. Thanks, Lee. The differentiation between perfect and rubbish PRACTICE is a great concept. I had never thought of it in those words, but it's so true. Thanks for that pearl of wisdom and for another great post.

  9. Hi Margaret,
    Yes it's one of my favourite concepts. It's helped me a lot in my work. If I have to do something that's not really worth it, I can rush through it lickety-split. But, if it's worth doing well, then perfect practice makes perfect.

    I love pearls of wisdom, don't you?

  10. Good on him! What a great lesson he learned on dealing with nerves.
    Something I've found with wannabe authors who have approached me for tips is that they expect writing to be different from other pursuits. They assume that all the tools you need are paper, pen and computer, so what could be easier? Then, when they become unstuck by writer's block and daunting critique feedback, they sadly assume that they haven't got what it takes. If only they understood that it is discipline which needs just as much practice from the outset as anything else, they'd be in a much better head space.
    I remember almost giving up in my teens and early twenties for these reasons, but so glad I persevered. Can anybody else say the same?

  11. You're right, Paula. I think for that reason, a lot of authors excel in other areas of their lives too, especially music or business. Once you've got discipline in one area, it's easier to transfer that to another.

    I saw this comment on Facebook today. Very appropos:

    Writers Block; When your imaginary friends won't talk to you.

    Loved it :)

  12. How wonderful that he's persisting. I let fear stop me from excelling as a trumpet player - though I was good and played 1st position - I wanted to go to the Conservatorium and didn't. Now I'm pushing through my fears with persistence and allowing my children to see this - hoping they will learn to conquer and not let fear hold them back.
    Great post.

  13. Lee, wonderful post! It's so true that writers need discipline to improve their writing craft skills. And patience too! Glad to hear your son is persevering with his violin practice :)

  14. Loved the quote about writer's block!
    As for the fears - there are a lot of them, little and big. The big ones we can justify, the little ones can cripple our relationships and creativity. I get afraid of my writing a lot, afraid that even with a lot of practice someone will realise I can't write that well after all! So I live in denial mostly, pushing those fears to the back, and just keep writing anyway because I love it. :)

  15. Great post, Lee. Fear is crippling. Push it away whenever it comes because you will never reach your potential if you let it take hold.

  16. Thanks for the encouragement, everyone. Fear indeed is crippling, which is why it's one of Satan's favourite tools. With a little bit of fear, he can stop us from exceeding in our lives.

    It's so important to lift each other up in prayer.:)