~ Hazel Harps On

A Good Ear (And a Bad One)

A good ear – so important for musicians. Also, I would say, important for writers. One of the top writing tips is this: Always read your work aloud. It helps with the rhythm and flow. And without this ‘hearing’ your story you can easily miss the fact that your sentences are stilted, repetitive or clogged up with too many adjectives. It’s amazing what you suddenly realise once the words are spoken out loud.

Despite annoying tinnitus, I am lucky to have a good ear, and I’m sure this helps with my writing, as with my music. But for the whole of March there’s been a big problem. A problem with my left ear.

“I can’t hear with it,” I told my doctor.

“Aha!” she said, looking down it. “You’ll have to pour in olive oil for two weeks, then come back for a syringing!”

Olive oil made me deafer still.

My harp gig on Mother’s Day was a real challenge. As was Bath Pitchfest where I just about caught the pearls of wisdom about how to submit your novel to agents… I think. But I can’t be sure.

Unfortunately this was the time my brother came to England for his yearly visit. We packed in as many friends and family as possible and my normal quantity of conversation was tripled - but the effort needed to hear what everyone was saying was tripled too. It was exhausting! At last my doctor’s appointment came round. I went to the surgery full of hope… and returned full of disappointment. The bombardment of gushing water into my ear made no difference whatsoever. Another week to wait...

I sat down and gave myself a strict talking-to about patience (ironically the subject of my last blog). I had two harp gigs that week and two singing engagements with The Hummingbirds. I weathered them all somehow, but hated the way the music sounded so muffled and peculiar.

After a trying mix-up by the surgery I finally got my second syringing. All to no avail! There was a performance at a Care Home with the Dorylas Duo this week and I was getting desperate.

I have a hyper-optimistic friend who, when things go horribly wrong, is famous for saying “In a way I’m glad.” So, taking a leaf from her book, I’ve complied a list of reasons I am grateful for my hearing loss:

  1. It has given me ample opportunities to use my favourite word ‘discombobulated’. Again and again I have told everyone how discombobulated I am. Discombobulated, discombobulated, discombobulated!

  2. Because I am discombobulated I have an excuse to include some totally irrelevant photos of me operating a digger (which was another peculiar thing that happened during March)

It has shown me that, if I can perform with the harp with hearing loss, I must be pretty darn good at it.

  1. My lip-reading skills have improved.

  2. To cheer myself up I made a pie with a pastry harp on it, and that’s cool.

  3. My appreciation of fully working ears has increased a hundredfold.

  4. I have learned to be patient (well… we live in hope!)

  5. I’ve got something new to write about, and that’s always a good thing.

So there we are. I must conclude I am as lucky as ever.

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