Words & Music

Today was one of those unusual days when my autoharp lesson and my critique group/writers’ meeting happened to be on the same day. This meant I left the house at lunchtime and didn’t return until after 8:00 this evening. It also meant that I spent close to eight hours immersed in two of my favorite things—words and music.

I couldn’t help thinking, as I often do, how drastically my identity has changed over the last ten years. Ten years ago, I had written my first book and was working on my first novel, but my primary and really only identity was that of a homeschool mom. My homeschool group meant the world to me. All my local friends were other homeschool moms.

Now, although I am still a homeschool mom, there is no homeschool group where I feel welcome or as if I could “fit in.” I hang around on the edges of a couple of groups, but know almost no one in them. The moms I was close to ten years ago are all pretty much done homeschooling, and with one exception, I rarely see them.

Now, my sense of identity comes more from my writing and to a certain extent from my love of music. My autoharp lesson today was the first since December! We did less playing and more talking as we had a lot of catching up to do. Ann, my teacher, is such a wonderful lady and has become a mentor to me. She was so encouraging to me today. She wants me to learn to use a music software program so that I can create sheet music, then publish and offer to others some of the songs I have arranged for the autoharp.

According to her (and this seems incredible to me, but she should know!), most autoharp players don’t chord and arrange their own music. They are dependent on finding and using music that others have arranged. This is so surprising to me because one of the things I love most about playing the autoharp is that I can play anything on it. I can’t imagine being limited to playing only those tunes that others have written down the chords for. Any song that I’ve heard and remember, I can figure out the chords for, usually in less than half an hour, and then I can play and sing that song whenever I want. This process has brought me so much joy, as a song from my youth will pop into my head and within a few minutes I have written down the chords and can play it on my autoharp.

I really thought everybody did this, but Ann says that is not the case. What she wants me to do is put together a collection of songs I have arranged and make it available to other autoharp players. I am not sure when I’ll have time to do this, but I am so flattered to think that an expert like Ann feels I have something to offer the music community. She also gave me some great tips to improve my playing, and I would really like to surprise her in a good way at my next lesson.

From there, I drove back to my own town for my critique group. It was a spectacular drive out to Quitman and back today. Allergies aside, I must say that East Texas does spring very lavishly. The countryside literally seemed to glow with new life.

So, I made it to critique group just in time. My critique partners are so helpful to me. The more time goes by, the more they help me be a better writer. I am so thankful to them.

After the critique group, we had our regular meeting and our speaker was a lady who has written a historical novel set in our town. I learned some things I never heard about before and it was fascinating! I love hanging out with other word lovers.

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