I really hated playing the violin and even more than playing, I really hated practicing the violin.
Regardless, everyday after school the music stand would be set-up, the etude books opened, the bow rosined, the violin tuned.
Florence would take her place in the big armchair and the torture would begin.
But at some point the room would grow dim with winter evening, and she'd begin to doze. Perhaps she was tired from her own six hours of daily piano practicing or perhaps it was from the daily cup of sherry she allowed herself, but only after those six hours had been completed. I didn't care. Her snores heralded my freedom.
I'd stop mid-note and if she didn't stir with her usual order of "Commence!" I'd jump into action.
Quickly scattering the music books to make it look like I had finished not only all the scales and exercises but even the piece I was studying, I'd prop the violin rakishly in its case as if it had run a long race and was catching its breath and dangle the bow from the music stand as if, too hot from ferocious playing, it needed cooling.
More often than not, this would be as far as I could get, the lack of my scratching out unloved music jarring her into awake. But every once in a while, I'd actually get to sneak out of the living room and happily do anything but practice.
Still, no matter what happened, the next day the music stand would be set up, the etude books open, the bow rosined, the violin tuned.
Years later, Florence asked me what I really wanted to do. At this point, burnt-out, drained and exhausted from decades of juggling early morning attempts and late night sessions writing stories, I was either in the middle of yet another mind-numbing job or one of my three forays into higher education.
"I just want to stay home and write full-time."
She paused, like she was listening to the sentence over and over and over again.
Then she said, "You have to train for that."
Six days a week, coffee is made, pill is popped, banana eaten, email glanced at, the table cleared, pens lined up, doors closed, documents opened, the writing book readied, phones put aside, tiredness banished, the world shut out, the soul called forth, the heart welcomed, the hands warmed... the writing commences.