This morning I went to write and found the ink in my fountain pen had dried up. I unscrewed the nib, washed it all, and replaced the cartridge. It had been a week since I’d written anything. As I headed back to my desk, I remembered a story, told by poet Kim Stafford, of a physicist who was also a violin player. Curious, he hooked his violin to an electron microscope and began to play. As he played, the microscope registered the wood puckering and rippling outward. When he stopped playing, the ripples continued for another 24 hours. The physicist concluded that an instrument played daily is resonant and anxious to speak, even before its strings are tuned. The violin had a song to sing.
As I started to write, I thought of the hours spent cleaning my pen because it had sat idle for too long. Daily writing could keep the pen (and me) active and creative. Pablo Casals once said, “If I don’t practice for one day, I can tell the difference when I next cradle the cello in my arms. If I fail to practice for two days, my close friends can also tell the difference. If I don’t practice three days, the whole world knows.”
Daily writing not only warms my pen, it fires my imagination. What is your instrument that could use a little playing?
The Muses Among Us: Eloquent listening and other pleasures of the writer’s craft, by Kim Stafford