Lune Diary: The Haunted Piano
by M.J. Hearle
I had piano lessons from the age of seven till I was about thirteen. That’s a solid six years of music study. If you sat me in front of a piano now I wouldn’t be able to play much more than the opening bars of In the Hall of the Mountain King from the Peer Gynt suite. Don’t worry mum, those years of piano lessons weren’t wasted. If nothing else they gave me a solid grounding in musical theory which helped me pick up the guitar later on in life. They taught me how to actually appreciate music rather than just listen to it. And they provided the inspiration for this chapter of LUNE.
If you recall, the last chapter ended with the mysterious arrival of a piano in the Lune household. This chapter begins with young Lune being awoken by someone playing the piano downstairs. The same eerie melody over and over again. Lune is alone in the house (his mother has gone out for the night) so is understandably a little unnerved by this phenomenon. Nevertheless, he gathers the courage to go downstairs and investigate. After completing a kind of musical puzzle on the piano, Lune accidentally conjures a magical creature named Stitchwhistle who then invites Lune to partake in an adventure. Or something like that happens. I’m being purposefully vague so as not to spoil the surprises in the story.
I’ve written posts in the past that advise writers to always challenge their story ideas. Just because something feels fresh and innovative to you doesn’t mean it is. Case in point: originally I thought Stitchwhistle might come down the chimney in Lune’s room, or even travel through an old wardrobe. In retrospect these ideas are pretty obviously hackneyed (not to mention legally dubious – the C.S. Lewis estate probably has the whole magic wardrobe thing copyrighted) but at the time they occurred to me they felt brilliant. It’s scary not being able to trust your own creative instincts.
Still, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having to actually work at arriving at a creative solution. A million years ago, I was a young guy trying to make it in advertising. I had no idea about the creative process but I was working with an art director who knew his stuff. He taught me a lot about challenging and second guessing those initial ideas. To stretch myself to come up with most creative solution to a brief rather than the easiest or most obvious. That the process of being creative was as much a reward as the end result. Despite, never making it as an ad man, those lessons have held me in good stead. Just like the piano lessons.