Words, New Cellos and Life

You’ll have to forgive me for the lack of real posts lately (well, nobody’s twisting your arm, but it would be nice…) Between starting a new job, a big push to get some major novel revisions complete and the ongoing cello shopping project, I got pretty sick of looking at my computer screen. It’s been all I can do to manage the irregular Twitter update – don’t even ask me about Facebook.

Here it is, a week later and I’m feeling a little less acrimonious toward the keyboard. I’m getting settled into the new job (pretty fab), revisions are going well and I’m making progress toward a new cello. Shall we play catch up?


RE: Revisions and my aversion to writing about….writing. (Skip this part to get right to the cello bits)

Last November I completed a book during NANOWRIMO that refused to be put aside. It’s not my first book, but it’s the first one to crawl, kicking and screaming, out of the “bottom drawer” of my desk (read: laptop) and scream FINISH ME! Truth is, I’m a terrible editor when it comes to my own writing and the revision/rewrite process has stopped most of my previous attempts between first draft and the “rewrite that became a whole other book.”

This time, I’ve vowed to finish it. I have an awesome group of first readers lined up are acting as cheerleaders and drill sergeants. I also discovered Scrivner, which helps me give the process structure it lacked before and makes rearranging everything from scenes to chapters that much easier. So I’m doing it. The work has gone in starts and stops all spring, but I’m determined to plow through it before the end of summer, so I can get work on something new. This is the first you’re hearing of it because, well, I tried blogging about writing and that didn’t work so well: Fact is, I resist writing about the writing cause it always makes me feel guilty about not spending the time writing…the writing…oh you get the idea.

But I’m now safely into past the quarter mile pole and racing down the backstretch at full tilt with red pen in hand. It’s exciting, scary and wonderful.


Which brings me to the cello. As much as I love writing, there’s nothing immediately gratifying about the attempt to complete a novel and get published, just a series of distant milestones with no promise of reward between them – or when you reach the conclusion, for that matter.

Once again, the cello has brought something amazing into my life. Believe it or not, playing the cello has become one of the most instantly gratifying activities in my life. Particularly being a beginner, when you’re just worried about getting through your next folk song – and not fretting over interpretation and complex pieces.

When I play a note it’s either the right note, or the wrong note. My tone is either correct, flat or sharp. I’m either keeping time, or not. And I have the tools to fix any or all of those things and a teacher to teach me. Writing, not so much. I may write the best sentence in the world but the road between my brain and seeing that sentence among thousands of others on a shelf at Barnes and Noble is LAWNG and fraught with peril. When I’m not sure if I’ve made the right choice for a plot twist or honored a character, I can always get up and go play Allegretto until my brain is clear again. Even Brandenburg helps with that.

Thank God for those four strings.


Last week I fell head over heels in love. Like any romantic comedy it was one of errors and learning to listen to my heart. The Zuber I’ve been denying for so long came home with me. It was not love at first sight. This model is lighter than the others – you might recall I was originally drawn in part to that chocolatly varnish – and so brand spanking new it hadn’t even been played in before I took it home. Read: I did a lot of re-tuning this week. There were two in the store when I went to return the Cracked Czech – who started out the week kind of interesting and intellectually and ended droll and muted. I played both, and though the one I took home was the brash virgin there was no denying it had the more clear, bright, resonant sound.

Be careful what you mock folks, because it may someday come back to you asking to be loved. Remember my somewhat snide remarks about the garish crimson cello from my early days of cello trials? I won’t say this one is so much red as a warm reddish copper. If it were a horse I’d say it was a chestnut: think Secretariat or Man O’ War.

But there’s no arguing with that sound. It made love blind. The open G literally gives me goosebumps. Play just about any G and I do that leg twitchy thing a dog does when you scratch her magic spot. It didn’t hurt that Kaia gave it a good thumbs up and, with out mangling a quote, suggested based on quality of sound this was a cello I could grow and learn with the rest of my “career.”

And then we hit a bump in the road. I took it back to have the bridge adjusted and while they were looking at a small gap in the fingerboard, it popped off.

Yes, you read that right.

Apparently the hide glue attaching fingerboard to neck just kind of quit – possibly due in change of humidity from old environment to new (Germany to Seattle), or new string tension, or Mercury retrograde. Who knows. I freaked out a little but I was glad I hadn’t yet handed over my credit card. Frankly, I’m thankful it didn’t happen at home, or I would have totally lost my shit.

I go back to visit Rojo Grande (“big red”: See I told you it wouldn’t take me long to come up with nickname) later this week. I confess I’m a little bit on the fence about buying it now. I understand hide glue is susceptible to humidity and that part of the design is for the fingerboard to detach, rather than breaking the neck. But am I wrong to feel a little nervous about all this happing to a brand new cello?

I feel like a bride with cold feet before the wedding, and like Julia Roberts in that stupid movie, I’m getting ready to run.



About Eddie

Watch what happens when you give a writer a cello.
This entry was posted in Life and other such oddities, What I've Learned and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Words, New Cellos and Life

  1. Yee says:

    I would think that heat and humidity would affect the seams before the fingerboard….

    Hide glue shouldn’t just quit like that. I’m in Texas and during the summer, my cello goes from a nice climate controlled environment, to enclosed in soft case, to high humidity, 100+ degrees heat inside my car. Then however much time the A/C takes to normalize the temp in my car – usually 10 to 15 minutes. This happens weekly traveling to my lesson.

    That said, they might have strung the the cello before the hide glue for the fingerboard fully set, or maybe the neck surface wasn’t totally clean of debris when they glued on the fingerboard, or not enough hide glue was applied, etc.

    Not sure how much to worry about this since it can be easily reattach, I would think…

    Last year, my saddle had to be re-glued and 6 months later it came loose again. This last time, the luthier said he had to clean out the excess glue to get a better bond. He said the excess debris may have caused the first repair to fail but he didn’t know for sure since someone else in the shop did the previous repair.

  2. Pingback: Cello-genic: Appalachian Cello « strings attached

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