Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Last Friday as I was doing my Tweet 'n' Sing-alongs, where I shout out the SONG OF MY PEOPLE to my followers, the delightful NikkiMcCormack stopped me in my tracks. She asked me “Are there any SECURE writers?” I really had no answer and had to stop and think. I haven't even PUBLISHED, although, my blog posts were stolen and posted on another site, and I had to threaten legal action to get the site to take them down, so they are apparently good enough to steal. But is any of my writing good enough to ask people to fork over their hard-earned money for? I'm too insecure to find out. 

My darling Nikki, gave me her consent to show the world, that she is in fact, a jumping spider whisperer. 

The legendary “jumping spider whisperer”, the afore-mentioned Ms. McCormack IS published and is a superb writer and I really don't even know how to get a quarter of the way to that point. I understand a lot of work, editing, gnashing of teeth and crying is involved. I have enough of that going on right now in playing the viola, after a long absence, due to a motor disorder, which a very excellent neurologist fixed, after 10 years of worsening symptoms. This does not mean that I can't pretend to be the “Renaissance Man” or woman in the 21st Century.

But, back to the secure writers, as opposed to the secure musicians? Musicians are hams, even when they're bad. Play it proud and play it loud, even when it's out of tune. I have a coffee cup that says “Tune it or Die” even though I don't drink coffee. I take it out of my case, backstage, when I'm warming up, to set up a perimeter. I have perfect pitch; you don't work on it or earn it, you're cursed with it, and boy howdy, is it a curse. Some of these cats need to find new jobs, use mutes, or play pianississimo, not fortississimo behind my back, when I don't know they're the. . . HOLY CRIPES ON A CRACKER! WARN A PERSON! IT SOUNDED LIKE A GARBAGE CAN LID! It hurts to hear things played out of tune; it also is weird to hear things played in different keys than they were originally written in, say for instance, the "Hallelujah Chorus" which was originally written in D Major and I played it once in C Major. It was just. . . odd.
I think perfect pitch is much like eidetic memory. I can go years without hearing a piece, or playing it, and I know exactly what note it starts on. I thought that was weird until, in college, my viola professor said, don't you know you have perfect pitch? D'oh.

I remember hearing a story about a rather well-known and very good writer, who went to another author's book release party. There were several other writers there as well. The first author greeted his host, got his drink and cowered behind a potted plant for most of the party, too afraid to mingle. Across the room, he saw several other refugees hiding out from the mingling part as well. He spent most of the party in his little hole, until he felt he could safely make his good-byes and left.

This cracked me up; such a downer that you know it's NOT true!

Actually, good musicians are so very critical about their own playing, but what musicians do is but a moment in time and then it's gone, as opposed to what a writer does is forever. We're constantly trying to perfect our technique, so that each moment is a gem, each one is memorable. The best we can do though, since we never truly master these beasts; the violas or violins or cellos, or whatever, is we learn to minimize the flaws and bring out our virtues. I've been told I'm really good at playing during the rests.

I don't know what I'm working on, as far as writing, at present. Back at the end of May, we finished our symphonic season with a superlative performance of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5, for Big Orchestra. This symphony probably saved Shostakovich's life for it's stirring triumphant 4th movement, as he was in very dire straits with Joseph Stalin in 1936. We were still receiving congratulations on our performance two weeks after the end of the season, but it was a very schizophrenic time for me. My life partner, who had been ill for the past two-and-a-half years was dying, and we had Hospice in our home. I came home from that last concert, and never changed my concert black for the next ten days until he died on Wednesday, May 13th, 11:15 am. Not due to any symbolism, although it was fitting, but there was always something for me to do for him. His final coma was brief and his passing was so very peaceful; it was transcendent. I am just so very glad that he was able to pass away here, in his home, with me here. It is what he wanted.

Grief is a funny thing. We met in a homeless shelter 5 years ago, and I so wish that we would have more time together and I fought his decision to die (he signed a DNR) but that was HIS life, and as much as we loved each other, his pain was too terrible for him to bear, and going against him just made it worse. Once I accepted it, we made every day together as much fun as two people can under the circumstances. We said our goodbyes and "I love you's" a million times a million. When he couldn't speak, we said it with our eyes, until he was no longer lucid. My grief has been more for the things we could have done together, not in the things we didn't do. Before he fell ill and became sicker and sicker, we did lots together, so there are no resentments, no bad feelings. He is at rest and I am glad of that. I did something right and good, by helping a fellow human through his last days, and I would gladly do it again. I understand now why people become hospice nurses. I am over the deep grieving part and I have so many fond memories of him. Enough for the rest of my life.

Jim, talking to his best friend in Ohio.

I'll always miss him; he was so good to me, but I do him no honor by not moving on and playing and writing and doing nerdy computer things and gaming; the things I love to do. He knows that. So, this is a time for me to figure out where I'm going and what's next. Thanks for listening, #IWSG. And we're not really insecure; just monumentally confused, at times. But, dammit, writers are GREAT! (I'm not there yet, ever striving to be so!)


Nikki McCormack said...

Thanks so much for all the nice things you said about me. You are fantastic and you are brave for how you have dealt with your loss. My heart goes out to you. I can't offer much more than that, but if you ever want to chat about writing (or other things), I'm always happy to listen or share what I have learned. Just remember, if you write at all, you are a writer. Your blog posts show that you can do it. The more you write, the better it gets. I can't say you get any more secure, but the writing gets better and easier.

Hugs and love. ;)

SA Larsenッ said...

Okay, firstly - someone stole your posts???? Not cool at all. #Grrrr...

'...we're not really insecure; just monumentally confused...' - this is so true. I will always remember this. Thank you for mentioning it. My heart bleeds for you and for your loss. You are obviously a brave soul. Wishing you lots of new positives in your life and writing.

Charity Bradford said...

So sorry for your loss. Isn't it wonderful thought to have had amazing people in your life. To be truly touched and changed by another's presence is a blessing.

I loved how you compared musicians to writers! We all need a little more rock star in our blood. Maybe I'll practice that the next time I'm trying to sell books at the Farmer's Market. :)

Sheila Renfro said...

I liked the mug motto "Tune it od Die" in a way that's we writer's must do.

Diane Burton said...

I'm sorry for your loss. Isn't Hospice wonderful? I think they do more for the survivors than for the dying. And they do a lot for the one who is passing. I hope you find peace and are able to use your writing talent again.

Diane IWSG #99

C.D. Gallant-King said...

I dearly hope that someone like Stephen King is, at this point, pretty secure in his place. If he's not, then there is truly no hope for anyone else.

I can understand someone like JK Rowling or Dan Brown feeling insecure - they will always be trying to recreate the success of that one big hit (not that they need to - anyone should be happy to have even one great success like that in their life), but for someone like King who has spent 40 years on the top of the best seller list, he really shouldn't have anything left to prove.

Anyway, what was I saying? Music and Writing are two very different kinds of art. Music, like acting, happens in a moment and then is gone forever except in the memories of those who witnessed it. It doesn't have to be perfect - it just needs to stir emotion in that moment. Writing, like visual art, lasts as you said forever - to be picked apart and examined and experienced and discussed over and over. It is approached and experienced in two very different ways, both amazing and frustrating in their own right.

Stories I Found in the Closet: IWSG Wednesday

Viola Fury said...


Thank you so much for visiting and your kind words and inspiration over the past couple of years. I find writers to be so giving of their time and delightful in company, even if it's a shout-out in Twitter. I first found you through while blog-surfing and hung around, because I enjoyed and appreciated your advice and the way it was offered. The cats and spiders came later and by then I was firmly entrenched as one of your steadfast fans. If I ever need anything, or just a pick-me-up, I'll know where to come to my darling spider-whisperer. You are the best! Thank you for everything! Mary

Viola Fury said...

@SA Larsen,

Firstly, I want to thank you so very much for stopping by and visiting; I appreciate that. And, secondly, yes, someone did, and it was brought to my attention by another blogging friend who was actually being paid for his posts. He found an assortment of his and some other mutual friends' posts that were on this now-defunct (Captain Obvious, checking in here) website, that would allow you to read the first 3 or 4 lines, and then the remaining content had to be paid for. So, in solidarity, even though I wasn't earning any money and *looks around* was secretly thrilled, I DID have to stand by my friends because they had kids to feed and were living off of their writing. And truly, it is a snarky thing to do; the person who did it to me, unfriended me from everything and for the longest time I thought I had said or done something, and it turns out, she was just befriending new writers on the scene and taking advantage of them. That is long behind me, and I now have a little gizmo, by Google, or some other company, that alerts me to any untoward usage.

I think writing about our confusion helps, or any of our emotions, monumental or otherwise. I thank you for you kind words on the death of Jim. It gets easier to write about him. I did NOTHING for 3 weeks. I did manage to start sleeping and eating and trying not to be a zombie and then, the dam burst, and when it did, it was 2 solid days of crying. Crying on a dear friend here, who was a friend to us both, and to what may seem odd, but may not in context later, to my online clan, of which I have been a member of for 9 years. These people know me well, and we have all weathered storms together.

In July, I will be participating in an Blogfest hosted by Damyanti G, I believe regarding online relationships, and their contextual meaning in this society. I am looking forward to that and think it will be exciting! I have things I am looking forward to in "real life" (where did we start dividing up what's real and what's not and why... maybe I should look into that?) with my viola section in the Tampa Bay Symphony. We met last Saturday and for our final piece, we played this thing called "The Viola Fight Song!" which was a bunch of symphonic Viola licks in 2/4 time. Hilarious! I want to thank you again for visiting, SA. The Blogverse, or however we refer to ourselves has always been a rich place for me. I've met so many truly wonderful and talented people here and learned so much. I just hope I've contributed in some small way. It's a great place to be! Thanks, Mary

Viola Fury said...


Thank you for stopping by! I have been blessed with some very amazing people, along with the usual population of ne'er do wells, but I can honestly say that along with my parents, who were flawed people, as we all are, Jim taught me some very wonderful things about myself, that I doubt I could have learned any other way. He was a kind man, and while there were times I didn't always understand why he would say or do the things he did, the reason would become clearer to me later one. We had our disagreements, fights, and didn't always see eye-to-eye, but we DID voice our opinions to one another and were very comfortable in that, knowing that at the end of the day, there would be no resentments, no ill will and that things were always right between us. Few couples can honestly say that. He taught me about acceptance, and that prepared me for his end, because I really fought that, and until I DID accept it, I was so afraid that we would end on a bitter note, but he would not let that happen. Maybe we were just both stubborn cusses and cared too much about what we had to have it end badly.

Anyway, in all of that, was a very life-affirming experience. I have the courage and strength to pick up and go on and live joyfully, the way he would have me do, and that brings me to the rock star musicians. I think some of our "rock star" musicians need to develop a little insecurity, instead of, with no warning, and standing behind me, just start wailing on "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" badly. That's enough to earn a punch in the face right there, and if you think I'm kidding, I was in one orchestra, where an actual fist-fight broke out in the viola section. Violas were flying around, fists were flailing, and I just backed up, with my precious Florenus viola. I guess "The Viola Fight Song" (See above; it's a real thing) is aptly named. You could glam up your book-selling by getting a string trio to come out and play "The Chipmunk Song" and then have them do some Sumo Wrestling. I'd buy a book to see that! Heck, I'd pay YOU to DO that!

At any rate, thank you so very much for your kind words and for stopping by, Charity! It is so appreciated! Mary

Viola Fury said...


Thanks for stopping by! Isn't that a corker? My mom sent it to me a long time ago, when I was ranting about some European orchestra and their horrible wind section. Actually, European orchestras have a tendency to have wind sections that are rather on the flat side and it drives me crazy, and it's not all of them. I better not get started down this road. As for writers? Yes, trying to weed out the passages that sound "false" or "flat" I can understand that analogy. I have a tendency towards the unwieldy and then I try to write my way out of it, instead of just trashing the whole paragraph, or whatever and looking for a simpler, more elegant way of stating whatever it is I'm trying to say. That's an excellent point! Thanks again, for visiting, Sheila! I really do appreciate it! Mary

Viola Fury said...


Thank you so much for stopping by! I am so very glad Hospice was here and helped. They really did a superb job, right up to the Social Worker and then the superbness stopped. The nurses, CNAs, LPNs and aides were top-drawer and they could not have been kinder. The Social Worker, a woman who was very full of herself and very petty towards the nurses could not have failed in more ways than I can tell you. Every job that woman was supposed to do in a timely manner was botched up somehow, and I let her know that I did NOT appreciate being kept in the dark about what our treatment options were and I REALLY did not appreciate the patronization she initially showed to me and I let her have it between the eyes.

She tried to brush me off with "I have to take this call, it's about a meeting," I jerked the phone out of her hand, hung it up, and said "Lady, I don't care if you're a member of the Inner Council of the fucking UN and are deciding the fate of the Free World, this is MY time and you will answer MY questions". I was 2 inches from her face and pissed. I have NEVER in my entire life had a positive interaction with a social worker and I feel that they are nothing but a bunch of parasites. The money these men and women draw for salaries to sit in meetings, "planning" and "adminstrating" is a complete waste. It should be given to the people who are on the front lines; the ones who really do the work.

But, Diane, I'm in complete agreement with you. Anything Jim needed, the Nurse-Practitioners ordered and it was there at our home, usually within the hour. These dedicated men and women were astonishing in their compassion, their care and their obvious love for their jobs. I used to think this must be the most depressing job in the world. My mind was changed completely after this experience. They showed me how life-affirming such work can be! Thanks again for stopping by! Mary

Viola Fury said...

@C. D.,

Thanks for stopping by! It's good to see you again! I agree about Stephen King. I hope he's over the insecurity writers feel, but one thing bothers me about him. I've been reading some of his later works, and although I haven't yet read "November 22, 1963" which I do want to read, I have read "Mister Mercedes" which was good, excellent even, but dammit, maybe it's me. He's not as great (at least to me, as he was when he wrote books like "Salem's Lot" or "Dead Zone" or "The Stand". Don't get me wrong, his prose still marvels, but at times, like in "Under the Dome", which I suppose was to be allegorical in regard to 9/11, much of that seemed forced to me. I actually put that one down for a while. I still haven't finished "Needful Things".

I like and really enjoy JK Rowling's writing and I did read her novel that she wrote for adults, "The Casual Vacancy", as well as all of the Harry Potter novels. She's a solid writer and I liked the way she intertwined the many characters in the adult novel and her observations were sharp. Dan Brown is a horrible writer and should go paint houses or be a plumber or an electrician or ANYTHING but a writer. But, there's always a market for that sort of drivel, kind of like "Fifty Shades of Grey". Barf. The minute I saw the book cover for that I thought, "Ewwwwww." And, here we aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover. I understand the person who wrote that is no Elizabeth Barrett Browning, either.

You are precisely right in assessing writing and playing music as being amazing and frustrating in their own ways. Our orchestra is tackling stuff that is just unbelievably difficult. We are still getting kudos for the Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 for Big Orchestra, that we played at the beginning of May and I have to say, something really awe-inspiring happened during that performance. Our conductor is listed as one of the 30 most influential people in music in the world and he just has this aura about him. Now, I had about a 10-year layoff due to essential tremor, which my neurologist was able to diagnose and treat and I just started playing again last August, but, I've played for professionally for about 35 years and I've played lots of good, great and blah concerts. But, this was just transcendent and we all knew it at the time, I think. It's lightning in a bottle. We can go back and listen to it, but we cannot experience it. We got that through string sectionals, viola rehearsals and just a lotta rehearsing

Good and wonderful writing is like that at times. Passages move us, but the sweat and tears that you pour out to get there, you did alone. You probably had beta readers and editors help and guide you, but it comes from you, ALONE. That's another difference right there. Of course, we can argue that a violin soloist is up there alone and he or she has his or her own "beta readers" as well. But, the way I see it, being a writer is an awesome thing and so difficult. My hat is off to you all!

Cathy Kennedy said...

Oh WOW, I have been so out of touch with things. *slap forehead* First off, let me say how sadden I am for your loss. I cannot imagine the heartache nor do I want to. Who does? It sounds like the two of you did it right, though. You have wonderfully fond memories of this man that you loved and that's a beautiful, beautiful thing. I will certainly hold you in my prayers because I know how ugly the grieving process can be as it will rise up unexpectedly and consume you all at once. Have a tunetastic week, my friend!

Featuring Ernie Halter

Anonymous said...

There's no such thing as a secure writer or artist-- if you're secure, you lack the requisite amount of self-doubt that fuels artistic endeavor.

Giving you a huge fat hug from across the world, Mary. I spent the last two years grieving for family members I lost, so I know some of what you're going through.