A whirlwind around me again lately and here I was without an idea about writing for this ‘free’ week.
By Tuesday I was so busy, I couldn’t even worry about it; I had a number of errands to do in Louisville, and those only after my main mission:
To buy a violin for The Grandson.
I know next to nothing about violins and even asked Patty, our resident musical Fox, for advice. Son#2 was ripped off for the quarter and half-sized cheap student beginner violins he bought from the only music store in town, so I knew that we had to go to Louisville for a decent instrument. Our young man had been using a violin which belonged to his great-grandfather on his mother’s side. The man had used it as a fiddle, and although we had it tweaked, it had developed major problems and the Young One had been using a violin that belong to his high school the last half of the year.
He needed a good instrument.
I called several places which I had found over the internet. I spoke with a man at the first ‘music store’ we would pass on the way up to Louisville; he outright lied to me about the quality of what they carried. When I approached a clerk at that store, he was embarrassed. He pulled out the only violin that he said might come close to what we needed and if that was their best, I can’t imagine how terrible the lesser ones were. They were used, cheap beginner violins, not worth the plywood used to make them. He gave me the name of a luthier, (stringed instrument maker), whom he knew in Louisville, but I had at least three more place that I wanted to check out.
The second ‘music store’ I knew rented instruments big time and hoped that since it was summer, their better ones were back and we might get a good deal. Was I wrong! Their prices were outrageous. The Grandson was far from impressed with the ones within our price range, and the next tier up was a huge price leap, (and I doubted that they were worth the really high price tags). The woman said that better strings might help the violins that my grandson obviously did not find worth the money, but said that they were also quite expensive and fairly insulted the kid by saying that the better strings were not worth it for him. (I admit that The Grandson will never be ready for a Stradivarius, but he will be a junior this year and has been playing since he was in third grade.)
Before we found the luthier that the man in the first store suggested, I wanted to go to the place with the man who truly impressed me when I had called. He was not in, but his older business partner was, and we went no farther.
Both men are luthiers and their true love of music and the instruments are evident by their shop. Antique wooded shelves, cabinets, desks, books, prints, photos and instruments fill the small shop, which is dedicated to stringed instruments, Of course, but most notably, violins. The photos are of notables playing the violin, (Einstein and Jack Benny!) There are prints of notable historic musicians and there is an old, colorful timeline of the evolution of stringed instruments on the wall.
The standard bust of Beethoven there wears a top hat and a Louisville Orchestra tee shirt!
The Grandson’s eye lit up when he got his hands on a very reasonably priced, well-made violin and although we looked at others, he loved that one. It was a far superior instrument to the junk the woman tried to pass off at the same price to us. I frankly asked the luthier if going up to the others that were a bit more were a great improvement, (The Husband nearly choked), but the man told me that no, unless we went way up, the difference was not worth it. He thought that the one my grandson liked was a good instrument, “not a toy” and that It should last him the rest of his life.
The luthier could easily have gotten the couple of extra hundred out of me but instead, he included a nice bow, a chin rest and changed the strings to the ones that the woman thought were too expensive for my grandson.
If that were not enough, when his credit card machine would not work, he took my info and let us walk out with all of it unpaid-for!
After lunch and a visit to my niece, the partner called. He first thanked me for our business and apologized, but he needed more information. He ran the card, immediately sent me another receipt and told me that they also give a 100% of the purchase price in buy-back if and when we ever wanted to upgrade.
Did I fail to mention that they gave us a break on the price of the case, as well?
I am more than impressed.
What did I learn? Never to go to a ‘music store’ that makes their money off of guitars and drums to wannabe rock stars; it’s worth seeking out people who know their craft and care about others.
What does this have to do with writing?
The idea is working its way through my head that I need to put a luthier into a story. What story or why, I have no idea; he may even be a bad guy; he may even be a SHE, and I seriously doubt that the person will be a main character.
I am not inspired to write the character by the way the men run their business, their kindness, or their generosity. I just know that I need to put a luthier in a story and I really don’t know why.
I may put a quaint, antique-filled shop into a story, but it will not be the luthier’s.
Do I file the idea away and try to put him in to another story, one in the works or one yet to be inspired, or do I wait until things calm down and think up a story in which to include a luthier? I have never had to TRY to come up with a story before.
Most of my published work has been non-fiction or poetry. The stories I have written, (which apparently need more work), and my works-not-finished have been based on experiences or loosely based on what others have told me.
I never forced a story, however, I never has a ‘free-roving character’ come to me before.
So, writer friends, have you ever had an idea for a character who wants to be in a story, but you have no place for them (as yet)?
What did you do? Wait? Write them in? Develop a story for them?
I would love for you to let me know.
I’m so glad your grandson found the instrument he needs, and that you found a reputable luthier. The shop owners sound like people who are doing this because they love it, not because they want to make money. No, I haven’t ever had a character looking for a story – as I mentioned awhile ago, I usually begin with conflict and search for the characters to live through it. But the two men you described would make wonderful secondary characters for a story.
I have no intention of using either of these particular men or their shop and ethics, Patty….just a luthier. I think this person is forming in my mind but he just wants a ‘walk-on’ role. We’ll see, though. I have had secondary characters who would not cooperate and who insisted on more ‘air time’!
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What a wonderful experience, Tonette. I too have visited a violin shop when I lived in Florida. No, I don’t play but had visions of learning to play a violin someone gave me a long time ago. Since then, it has passed to my daughter who did learn to play a little on it. Not sure if she still does (she plays many instruments), but the experience I had in the shop was wonderful, talking to people who really knew their instruments.
I’ve never had the experience of wanting to put a character into a story and not knowing where, though. When I think up a character, or scene, or incident, but can’t use it in the story I’m working on at present, I put it into my “Future Stories” file in the PC. That way, when I need something, I’ll go through the file and see what came to mind previously.
I do have a story I’d like to start after this WIP is published and I’m finished with my next story. It’s already started (in part). It involves an antique store, but now that I’ve read this, I think I’d like to change the scene to a violin store. Do you mind if I take your information here and use it for that story?
Oh, PLEASE run with it, Sharon! I am so pleased to hear that I have inspired you! As I said, I have no intention of using this store in a story. (I will message you with more.)
I have so many ‘starts ‘ and a file of ideas, I really need to get on the ball.
Shame on those first few stores for carrying shoddy merchandise and providing shoddy information.
Love your description of the luthier duo and their shop. Though I am not musically inclined, I am drawn to establishments which offer that kind of expertise, product, and service. Sadly, I fear, they are dying off and the newer generations may not replace them. Too much interest and activity in the box stores, internet-purchases with next day shipping, and other “promos” which seem to outweigh service and expertise.
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I agree. Hopefully, these fellows and those like them will continue. In fact, both times I went there, (I dropped back in to pick up extra rosin and to meet the second owner, a man not more than 40-ish), they had a high school student working there part-time and for the summers to learn the trade. (Nice kid; wish I could get The Grandson a gig like that.)
I was sent to them by another shop which I had called, one that does not carry violins and sends their violin and stringed business to them. I guess it is a mutual admiration society.
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I am glad you found that shop and that the men were not simply after a sale. It’s wonderful to see people passionate about their craft.
I have had characters pop up who needed a story. I waited and put them I to one where they truly fit.
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Oh, good; I’m not alone! It’s a new one to me. I will be waiting to see where he goes eventually!
I don’t know why it posted this as Anonymous. Must have typed my login information in wrong. 😦
I’m sure you’ll find where he belongs. .
My son is a musician, a good one. He plays the mandolin. He always buys the best instrument he can afford. I personally have no musical talent so I have great admiration for those who do.