Start From Where You Are

By Your Salonniere

There’s no use fighting. As we set off on a project, we’re only able to envision and execute our task at hand as far as our abilities can withstand. Think of athletes. Each have their individual handicaps. A gymnast can’t excel at basketball. A baseball player might not be best suited at European football. We must accept our limitations and work with what we have. The more we’re able to accept where we are today the better our eyes and ears, all of our senses, will become attuned to our own unique vantage point.

Dwayne Croft, an opera singer, in his interview published in Life in Opera by Maria-Cristina Necula outlines our individual situations, and how it plays out on the stage:

‘Know your voice, know what repertoire is good for you, do not sing anything too soon.’ People tend to think that they can sing big operatic arias when they’re in college. They shouldn’t. The idea is to have a long career and be a healthy singer…My main advice is to go slowly and get a solid technique. It sounds really simple, but some young singers think they know their instrument and they believe too soon that they are ready. True, every singer is different; some mature earlier than others. However, I heard voice students performing arias that they shouldn’t have been singing in college and having huge wobbles in their voices at nineteen. They were finished before they even got out into the world…But if you have a talent that people recognize, then its knowing how to be smart, to protect it, to be careful, knowing what’s right for you and, when you are ready, being conservative and trusting your instincts. (7)

Rest assured, we won’t be pinned down by the same limitations for all our lives. We’re not static beings but always in perpetual motion, constantly transforming, growing, evolving, and, yes, sometimes devolving. What we see today, and how we see ourselves, is guaranteed not to be the same vision we’ll have tomorrow. Just think, any time we pick up a book we haven’t read in years, we’re guaranteed to find our perspective colored. Heathcliff has turned to a psychopathic jerk. Jane Eyre is not a priggish stick in the mud. Age and time changes everything. If a writer finds herself stuck with a certain project, unable to carry out the mission she’s determined to accomplish, she always has the option of setting the work aside and waiting until she’s more prepared to handle the challenges the project demands.

Each time we sit down and put fingertips to keyboard or take pen in hand, we enter into a pact with the body, the mind, and our craft. Any relationship requires compromise and concessions. One of the most painful concessions a mature writer will come to realize is that we can only start where we’re from. Once we accept this, we’re better prepared to confront our own weaknesses and, consequently, become fully equipped to exploit our strengths.

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