“Slow down your bow,” says my teacher. So I do.
“Slower.” I raise a brow at him and do as he asks.
He nods. “Even slower.” I feel like I’m mocking him. Surely this can’t be what he’s looking for.
“The problem,” he says, “is that your bow isn’t engaged.” It’s too far from the bridge and I’m not applying the right kind of pressure, so it skitters across the strings. No control. Without friction, the bow goes where it wants, usually someplace both aesthetically unpleasant and physically awkward. When I do as he suggests, the sound is clear, I have greater control of dynamics and expression, and I have more than enough bow to finish the phrase. So what element makes the difference?
Without it, there is no music.
Treading water is easy, relatively painless, and you can maintain the pace for a very long time. Unfortunately, you don’t get anywhere, and you die of hypothermia or exhaustion if you do it for too long. Of course, it’s a life-saving strategy in some circumstances, but you can’t do it forever. To move forward, one has to pull against the water.
Writing is hard, and getting published is even harder. There is a mountain of information, much of it discouraging. Agents want established authors, with ready-made platforms, and I have no credentials whatsoever, not even an MFA. I begin to doubt, pull back, and spend too much time on tasks that make me appear busy but get me nowhere. Treading water.
Resistance makes one work harder. It forces one to push. If obstacles are soft and cushy like a big pillow, they yield, but remain in place. Sure, pushing against a pillow would be less painful, but the result would be the same. If I push off a wall, rather than a bolster, I can accelerate, gain enough momentum to make my way over, even if I have to scour the surface for every toehold.
The resistance I face, that we all face, doesn’t go away. The only way to overcome it is to engage to bow, work it, shape it and turn it into music. And that takes practice. Working at it every day until it’s second nature. The path of least resistance may be easier, but it won’t lead me to where I want to go. So I’ll work at my craft until it speaks for itself, and tell the industry to bring it on.
I love to write. It’s what I do. I may be unpublished, but you’re reading this, and to me, that’s pretty damn awesome.
So when all the evidence indicates this is an unlikely dream? That I can’t do this?
Just watch me.
Words by J. B. Everett