The Metronome

I play a little guitar – well, I mean I play a full size guitar, but I play it with only a modest degree of skill.  Okay, perhaps modest degree is too lofty a praise.  I hack away at it, and occasionally it makes pleasant noises.  Hmm, perhaps that’s still a bit of an oversell.  Let’s just agree that if guitar’s had SWAT teams, there’d be a squad of black-clad Fenders in trees and behind cars near my house, with one of them demanding the release of the hostage over a bull-horn.

But I digress.  I wanted to sneak a deft little metaphor in here, so here goes.

My wife gave me a metronome this year at Christmas – it was something I had always wanted.  I’ve long suspected that my timing was one of the (many, many) things that I needed help with where my guitar playing (abusing?) was concerned.  It’s a beautiful little thing: not digital, but old school, with the mechanical swinging arm and a solid toc, toc, to jam to.  (okay, I’m leaving the word jam in there, but I’ve never jammed a day in my life…  and honestly, I’ll never be good enough use that word.)  Anyway, when I began using the metronome, I realized that yes, my timing was way off, and that while playing to the toc toc beat made me at least a little better, the demands of the metronome’s relentless march was unexpectedly intimidating: It doesn’t wait when you screw up.  It doesn’t say no prob, go ahead and hit that again.  No, it just goes on.  And freeking on.  Maybe it looks over at me occasionally from down its very long nose, but it sure a shit just goes on.

Quick and subtlety-free gear change:  With the excitement of my book deal comes a sobering reality: it’s a two-book deal.  For those of you without television, that means there has to be, yup, a second book.  (Okay – quick confession: there’s already a second book that I have locked and edited and ready for submission, but being as paranoid as I am, I feel a compelling need to have another in the chamber – a back up number two.)   That said, I am now writing a novel, for the first time in my life, to a time-line.  toc, toc…  Sure, it’s making my timing a bit better – a little more disciplined and regular – but like the Wittner Metronome, I am now horribly aware of every hour that goes by without writing in it.  toc, toc.

Better get to it…

2 responses to “The Metronome

  • jeffo

    Ah, be careful what you wish for, eh?

    Unagented writers, or writers with agents but no book deals are reading this and grumbling under their breath about wishing they had your problem and so on and so forth. Then again, I’ve written under the pressure of the ticking clock. It’s bad enough when it’s a grant or a critical marketing piece; I expect it’s much worse when it’s a big piece of fiction. Congratulations on the deal, and good luck!

    • Dan Newman

      Thanks again, Jeff – and as for those wishing they had my problem – fair comment. And I can relate; it’s where I came from, too… this little step upward happened after a fairly lengthy dry spell; I’ve been writing and submitting novels (unsuccessfully), for about 15 years… Perhaps getting published now is a little bit of justice, or perhaps the industry simply realized the only way to shut this guy up was to let him have his way. 🙂 Either way, I’ll take it and run.

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The Doubting Writer

A blog by Dan Newman


A blog by Dan Newman

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