Violin Lessons for the Writer

Julie at 16

Julie at 16

I am taking violin lessons because (well, I confess I don’t know all my reasons). Someone recently asked me why I have a few strands of red hair. A story comes to mind: the gist of this story is that we must seek enlightenment like a woman with her hair on fire seeks the pond. But as I got my hair cut a month ago I simply felt like getting a strand of red added. Call it a nudge. Same with violin lessons really: I felt this internal nudge. I trusted these nudges enough to explore them. So here I am taking lessons from a beautiful young teacher, who could be my granddaughter.

Violin lesson one (which could go on for a decade) means learning how to have the bow meet the right string. Having the bow meet the right string is not in any way easy. I need to practice holding the bow correctly, which includes lightly without force. The A string is particularly challenging to meet without also meeting the D string. Of course, practicing everyday, which means learning this basic lesson, will make moving on to lesson two possible.

However, I would not have gotten to lesson one had I not trusted my nudges. Trusting such nudges is a good practice for all us creatives. Trust is fundamental in the writer’s life as well as in the spiritual and relational worlds.

A deepening of this trust has been a life long journey with a myriad of challenges and detours. I have come to trust my experiences (how I feel when I am in them), trust the nudges of the soul (even when they are ridiculous and simple like getting a strand of red hair). I have come to trust that the Creative (the Great Unknown) is always in play (though often times behind the scenes) helping out. I trust enough to explore what presents itself to me in ideas, accidents that feel meaningful, and subjects that want to come to fruition on the page.

Trust is the lubricant of living a creative life, and a life that moves us and the world forward. Along with this trust to explore come risks. There are vulnerabilities inherent in all risks. Better to try to meet your bows to the string then make excuses not to show up at all.

As I write this blog, I am finding the A string, my red is growing out and I am curious about what’s next. What nudge to trust? What will show up today that invites me to trust myself, the other, and the Great Unknown? What can I explore on and off the page that helps move my life forward? As I have shared in past blogs: everything is grist for the spiritual and creative mill. Which means, every day something presents itself to us. Go with that.


I go down to the edge of the sea.
How everything shines in the morning light!
The cusp of the whelk,
the broken cupboard of the clam,
the opened, blue mussels,
moon snails, pale pink and barnacle scarred—
and nothing at all whole or shut, but tattered, split,
dropped by the gulls onto the gray rocks and all the moisture gone.
It’s like a schoolhouse
of little words,
thousands of words.
First you figure out what each one means by itself,
the jingle, the periwinkle, the scallop
       full of moonlight.
Then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.
                                                 BY MARY OLIVER, Why I Wake Early

Southern Ireland

Come, explore, risk, meet your bow to that string!
A great place to explore with other writers is at the upcoming UW Writers’ Institute. This March 24th -26th in Madison Wisconsin. So many great teachers, writers, poets and agents!  I will be there.

I am available for one-to-one counseling and consultation around living the creative life, exploring that nudge, or, helping you bring your ideas and stories to the page. Contact me at 608-963-0724, or, via email:

Julie in Ireland


13 thoughts on “Violin Lessons for the Writer

  1. I’ve been looking for photos and articles on this topic over the past few days due to a school assignment, safetoto and I’m really happy to find a post with the material I was looking for! I bookmark and will come often! Thanks 😀

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