What Victor Knew

Victor was fond of saying the hardest thing about being a musician wasn’t mastering your instrument, it was confronting yourself each morning when you sat down and started to play. I used to drag my guitar over to his little studio on Juncal several times a week. Some of my happiest times in Buenos Aires were spent in this cramped little apartment with Victor, studying, sipping mate and listening to him teach and talk. We got on well. He knew I had plans to write. I remember one day getting very excited about a transition in a piece I was learning and an approving Victor sitting back with a smile on his face and saying, Toni, one day you’re going to have to decide whether you’re going to be a writer or a musician. I’ve still no idea if I made the right choice.

But back to the moment you have to confront yourself. A musician or a dancer has some advantages. If things aren’t going well there’s a mechanical aspect to what you’re doing where you can take refuge. Playing a single note well. Taking the step. A zen exercise in simplicity which helps you focus on what’s important and can open up a door to good work. Typing is a mechanical process of course. But the equivalent of the zen step for a writer? That’s not so obvious. It’s why we’re such good procrastinators. The five finger exercises are missing.  All we can do is take a deep breath – and begin. And fuck, that’s sometimes difficult.

Soundhole of my guitar

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