All I ever wanted was to be an opera singer. Between the ages of 10 thru 25, I was consumed with this desire. I took bel canto lessons and practiced hours and hours each day. During high school, I earned honor credits with the musical training I received off campus and I went to college, on scholarship, in hopes of earning a vocal performance degree.
As an adolescent, I would shut myself in our family room, crank up the stereo, turn off the lights, sit on the naugahyde sofa, close my eyes, and listen. Just imagine the allegro con brio from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Or Chopin's Heroic Polonaise in A flat major. Tears on my cheeks, I wanted to absorb the music into my soul. I heard passion, hope, sorrow, and triumph. I wanted to sing like that.
Dreams don't always mesh with reality, however. I wasn't Beethoven or Chopin. I loved to sing, but I absolutely loathed performing. I enjoyed learning arias in French, Italian, and German, but I hated doing recitals. I had natural talent and a good ear, but my musicianship wasn't great. In short, the future I had hoped for during the first half of my life changed. In my junior year of college, I switched my major to English Literature. Why? Because I loved books as much as I did music. The Romantics, Victorians and Transcendentalists especially.
Today, I still sing. For my mother, husband, and children. Sometimes in church. Writing now fulfills the need for self-expression that I thrived on as a vocalist. Even better, I can write and no one has to look at me out on a stage. At last I've found my niche! But old habits die hard. After finishing a writing exercise this morning, I clicked on my iTunes music library, turned up the volume on my computer, laid my head down on the smooth surface of my desk, closed my eyes, and listened. Jessye Norman's Amazing Grace. Pavarotti's Nessun Dorma. Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Masterpieces all. In them, there is longing, joy, genius. I thought to myself. How do I write that? Be like that?
Now Robert Browning's ghost almost whispers, "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp. Or what's a heaven for?"
Have you ever heard a piece of music or seen a painting or photograph and then wanted to capture it in writing?
P.S. Is it just me or does Beethoven look a little like Simon Cowell?