~ Hazel Harps On

What Could Go Right

I welcome February with enthusiastic, wide open arms. It’s the month of snowdrops and I’m slightly obsessed with snowdrops… and the days are getting longer, which has to be good for things like cheerfulness and hope.

There were two gigs at either end of January and one very important weekend in the middle. I teach harp (my students range in age from 8 to 90) but this was an opportunity to be a student myself again – how lovely! I was one of a large harp group at Halsway Manor, learning by ear several pieces none of us had ever heard before.

A great time in beautiful surroundings, and a challenge not so much for the fingers but certainly for the memory…

This was a pointer for me. I have memorised so many pieces now that I think my brain might explode if I don’t record them soon. I have therefore embarked on a new challenge, and this is will be a big, scary cliff to climb, luddite that I am. I’ve started learning how to use an object called an Interface and a programme called Cubase and other such technological delights (nightmares) which will soon (a million years from now) have me recording all my music onto a perfectly produced (hahaha) CD... What was I was saying about hope?

Yet so much really is achievable. A few years ago my hope levels were running very low. I was still paralysed with fear every time I had to play the harp in public. It was frustrating and disheartening. Whilst I could play to myself in the kitchen perfectly well, I messed up whenever a single person was listening. And writing was a disaster, too. Against huge odds I’d got myself a literary agent only to lose her again, along with all the contacts I’d previously made who had shown interest in my book. It seemed that all those years of hard graft were wasted.

You never know when or how your luck will change. Thankfully mine did. It’s a long story but I ended up with the fabulous Darley Anderson as my agent. Darley’s team took my sparkly new manuscript (then called THE HARP MAKER) to the Frankfurt Book Fair where it was fought over in a 5-way bidding war between German publishers. I remember the joy and incredulity of this, and the hope it kindled for the book’s future. The German deal was the first of many. And this week the postman brought my first copy of the book actually in German, and how beautiful it is!

(The German title is a play on words and means 'The Strings of Life')

ELLIE AND THE HARP MAKER has been out in English for a while but will come out here this month with a lovely new paperback cover. In March my second novel will be published. These are exciting times for me.

Harp-wise things have improved too. I am now totally confident (sometimes not that nervous) when I perform. I perform anyway! And I’m happier to take risks. At yesterday’s Care Home gig I played my penguin song - the one I’ve written to celebrate book 2 - in front of an audience for the first time. They loved it!

I’m going to end my ramble with an apt little quote from Tony Robbins. This is also a note to self and, perhaps, a sentiment beautifully manifested by the snowdrops:

‘Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start being excited about what could go right.’

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