Tuesday, July 5, 2016


A few weeks ago, Alex Cavanaugh sent around an email to all #IWSG participants and suggested that he was going to “spice things up a bit” by asking a question for all of us to answer during the following month's check-in and for his first question, he picked a good one: “What's the best thing anyone has ever said about your writing?”

I have a great answer and it was also said to me by my mentor regarding my viola playing and it's quite an achievement, I think. But, before I answer it, I have to kind of explain the process of getting there.

We all start out learning the basics; what's excepted in music and writing and what is strictly forbidden. We learn the rules and build a foundation upon which to build our craft. Once we've done that, we then look to, or read other people that we admire and study their technique and we sort of pick and choose what we like about their practicing of their particular art, and discard what we don't care for.

We're starting to come into our own as individual artists and we start going down paths to see what works and what sucks. I've been down many a horrid path, before finding my way back to some kind of gold standard that works, yet still allows me to be me. My viola mentor worked with me one summer on the William Walton Viola Concerto, when I first came to Florida, and he had me change some of the fundamental ways I was playing and it freed me up and allowed me to express myself in ways I hadn't done before. I became a much better player and got out of my own way. When we finished at the end of the summer and I went through a run of the piece, he nodded his head, pleased. He said, “you took that piece and made it your own.” This is high praise. It wasn't William Primrose's Walton Viola Concerto, Or Patty McCarty's; it was MINE. Thank you, Ben. We worked hard on that!

This past April when we were doing the #A-to-Z Challenge, I wrote what I thought was just a little throw-away piece on the crazy entrepreneurs that pop up around here like Mayflies and disappear just as quickly. That piece can be found here. I was reading the comments, and Eden Mabee said, “Coming back here and reading these snippets in your distinctive and powerful voice reminds me of one of the real joys of blogging, Mary. Thank you.” I was just blown away. I write much the way I speak and think and often times I'm not sure I know where one leaves off and the other begins. But, again, I consider it high praise, because I've practiced enough writing/blogging and just fooling around with ideas that I'm not ill-at-ease, nor do I feel stilted or phony with it. It just happens; I'm a better “pantser” then I am a planner and all of that. But, I never realized that other people would see it as a powerful voice; I am so grateful for that; thank you, Eden!

So, to Eden and Ben, I thank you both for the love and encouragement you both have given me. I enjoy both playing and writing and am so fortunate to have the best of both worlds! 
This is being published rather early, as I will be in Clinical Research all day tomorrow and at the Dentist most of the day on Thursday. I will be reading y'all's blog posts on Friday sometime. Have a Happy July #IWSG! 


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Now you know. Are you making an impact with your writing and your blog? Yes!

Crystal Collier said...

Sweet! It's definitely those moments that keep us going, eh? You rock. (And I don't just mean on the Violin.)

Juneta key said...

Those were amazing compliments. I envy you in a good way playing the violin. I played clarinet and flute in March Band in school and took some piano lesson and guitar lesson but never really good at it. Just had fun, except the clarinet I was good at that in school we won the state championship that year in marching band. Great post.
Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

ViolaFury said...


Thanks! I feel sometimes like I did when I first started working at IBM. I sat in a corner for three months and no one ever bothered me. I did my job and every day, I expected to be told to pack up my crap and leave. Within a year, I became Employee of the month, and moved into the prestigious OS/2 Engineering queue. What do I know? Nothin', when it comes to judging my own abilities. It's that "insecure" thing, that pops up, again and again and for good reason, I think. We are always looking for ways to make it better; it's the restlessness in our brains that looks for the ineffable, the "pure", whatever we're pursuing. Beethoven wrote at length on it and I got it immediately. That's one reason why this is such a fun and inspiring group. We've all got the bug and are on the hunt for "it", whatever our definition if "it" may be! Thanks for reading! Mary <3

ViolaFury said...


Thanks for the praise! As someone who continually rocks the reading world and doesn't put a foot wrong that is quite the compliment and well-appreciated! I myself have turned out some dross, but learned along the way, what was truly great and what was just meh. Some of my writings indicate that I probably should have just cleaned the house or played with kittens that day, but oh well, there was some larnin' in there, when I go back and force myself to analyze the terribad parts of a piece. It is the thing we strive for though, and why we are all in this "Insecure Writer's Group", even if, like you, are a published author. We're here to try and make our writing better and more polished. Even if I never publish a book (although I may stand a chance with my latest idea) the fun has been in the journey and it's not such a tortuous chore to try and come up with either ideas or good "word painting" to make the thing work. THAT alone, is worth the trip! Thanks for reading Crystal! <3

ViolaFury said...


Thank you so much for the kind words! I am so glad you stopped by! I actually played glockenspiel in the High School Marching Band in my Jr and Sr years, because I had taken all of my core classes and I just wanted some fun thing to do. I was terrible at it, because I couldn't hit the right notes and march in a straight line. My dear violinist friend played too, and she was just as bad. We'd just play the rhythm and play this cacophonous tinkling that wasn't in tune, but matched the rhythm of the song. Dear Lord, we got away with murder.

I'd always wanted to play an instrument from the age of 4, and I knew it was going to be a stringed instrument. I couldn't start until I was 11 in my school, and I got stuck with a violin, which I tolerated until I was about 16, and then I switched to viola, the alto of the strings. It was a brilliant choice for me. I do play the violin, if people are willing to throw lots of money at me to play it, but I prefer my deep and mellow viola, and I have and old Italian instrument that has a beautiful tone. I've played it since I was 19, and it was built only ten years after Beethoven's death in 1827, so, it has some age on it. Because it was built in the Bolognese school of fiddle-making and not the Cremonese (think Stradivarius), the instrument is wider, and a bit more graceful, than most violas of the day, so it's smaller. This is good for me, as I am a small person. It's a delight to play.

I'm happy when anyone plays an instrument. It does so much for your own well-being and happiness. It doesn't matter if you're a concert artist, or if you play in a civic band, or noodle around on your own. Just making some noise, or trying to perfect a little piece is a creative endeavor and it's good for the soul! If you have your clarinet, Juneta, you should get it out and dust it off. There are all sorts of how-to vids on youtube to help you. There are tons of duos for clarinets and violas too! <3

Unknown said...

Lots of love and luck-- for your art, and your blog!


ViolaFury said...


Thanks for visiting! If you receive just half the joy I do from playing or writing, my job's been well-done! I've been very blessed in that regard, but life in general is fun; or maybe, I just haven't grown up, yet! My love to you! <3