…for a personal update!
Greetings, pals and gals! Now, I may not have been up to some crazy cool activities that made me ever so mad jelly *ahem* RFM and comrades…but I’ve still been up to stuff! I thought I’d tell you a little bit about my trip to Wales last weekend, on a writing residential.
I was convinced when I got there that I’d somehow, at the end of the three days, I’d have at least planned my next novel. Was I right? Was I hell! It#s actually incredibly difficult to write on tap like that, as I’m sure all you other fellow authors would agree – being given a specific theme or time to write puts the author under a lot of pressure, especially if they haven’t technically written in five months! I’ve been dabbling in fanfic just to try and get myself back in the zone, and that has definitely helped. Oh, that reminds me – if anyone is reading the new story of mine *echoes in the silence* I will update and finish it….eventually. RL keeps getting in the way, as per bloody usual! But for once, RL may be poking her head in my business for a good reason. She can be a nosy bitch sometimes, but she can also be quite nice to me! WHICH BRINGS ME TO THE NEXT ITEM ON OUR AGENDA…
I’m not sure how many of you know this, but I do like a bit of piano. I’ve been playing since forever (mostly self-taught, because my teacher got so frustrated with me for not being able to read music that she drove me to quitting!) but every time I’ve tried to compose my own pieces in the past, it all went to crap because I couldn’t play by ear as per usual, the tunes didn’t seem to stick. Then Wales happened. I was sat in a small, stone-walled room with a darkwood piano right slap bang in the middled of it, looking out at the sweeping grounds of the Tudor manor house, when I got up and finally was brave enough to sit down at the piano. I never looked back out at that view. Instead, I focussed on the keys and tinkered around a bit until my fingers were comfortable. Then an idea came to me, or rather, an image came to me – I am careful about mentioning this on the interwebs, sorry! – and I was inspired. It took me eight hours to perfect the piece, and then later that day, we were told there would be a black tie dinner in the evening, followed by a concert, and did anyone play an instrument? Piano, perhaps?
My friend Megan nudged me in encouragement.
“Go on, you play beautifully! Please play the one from earlier, it was gorgeous!”
I gulped. “Sure, why not?”
Later on, when I saw the piano I was going to be playing on, I almost fainted. No joke. When we arrived, I made a bet that the piano in the Grand Hall was a Steinway, but I’d never get to play it. 24 hours later, I found out that it was indeed a Steinway, and I was definitely going to play it.
That weekend, if nothing else, I learned that there is no ladylike way to put high heels on at a Steinway. I’d backcombed my hair a bit and put on some black smoky eye makeup and pale lipstick. I was wearing an old black shift dress and some new heels (an impulse buy two days earlier), and it was incredibly difficult to get on stage in them. I had no choice but to kick them off in fear of falling down the steps, flat on my face. So I played for a while, trying not to throw up on the Steinway out of fear of not doing it justice. Out of nerves, I screwed up twice.
The bell sounded and everyone was ushered away for dinner. Five minutes in, I started having a panic attack – in just an hour or so, I would be playing a piece I composed eight hours earlier to a room of 100 people. I’d never done that before – I definitely couldn’t walk in the damn shoes now. Two friends propped me up and took me out into the hall, shoving a glass of wine under my nose and ordering me to drink it for courage. I eventually calmed down and went back to my friends at our table, still clutching the wine glass.
“Good God, woman!” Maya looked more impressed than anything. “You’re holding onto that wine glass for dear life! Good on you!”
Equilibrium was being restored. All was well…for now, at least.
I was supposed to be third on the bill, but I made them bump me down to ninth. I never actually bothered counting the number of acts until it was my turn – I was too busy freaking out in my seat and telling myself not to screw up over and over again. I remembered that people had said I looked beautiful, I looked like Audrey Hepburn. I smiled, and thought ‘What would Audrey do?’.
She’d knock this thing out of the park, that’s what.
I heard my name being announced, but it felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. It didn’t seem like I was meant to go up – who was this Lauren they were calling for? Why wasn’t she up there yet?
Oh, right. I kicked my shoes off again and bolted up on stage, nervous as hell and shaking like mad the entire time I played. The hall was eerily quiet as I played, and then broke out in raucous applause when I’d finished. I looked up – holy shit, a standing ovation!
I was smiling, but still shaking like hell, so I was quick about returning to my seat. People congratulated me and threw compliments my way, but I was still in a daze, on a performance high.
My first words post-performance?
“TO THE BAR!”
Here’s a pic and a a very rough home recording of the piece for y’all:
Well, that’s all folks! See you next week!