So, the last day of Cellomas: 2009 Failtacular is a little short (I’m writing with 1.5 hands after the surgery) but such is life.

The ninth day was a warning to choose your source of self-estimation carefully. Look out for hidden motives. Take your parents with a grain of salt. Be the definer of your own success.

Yes, do those things.

But you can rely on others for some sense of what works and what doesn’t: it’s all in what isn’t said or done. It requires brutal honesty with yourself and accurate introspection (not pity, I repeat NOT PITY) but what a valuable tool it is. Most of the following are from my own experience. Ugh.

Q: Do you feel that everyone hates you in rehersal?

A: Maybe they do. If you’re spending rehearsal acting a fool and vying for attention, you’ll get the opposite of your desired result. Spend one rehearsal with your mission clearly defined: how can I help my section leader? If you’re the section leader, pick someone else. The answer is usually something like: I’ll play as well as I can, focus on being a part of the orchestra not star of the section, not interact with the conductor directly, not cause any additional conversation, and wait until the end to ask questions. You’ll shine brightly if you allow yourself to reflect the greatness of the entire group.

Q: But I’m right!

A: I know. Who cares? As a sometimes know-it-all, I have to tame my most insufferable qualities for the greater good. The choice is yours: demonstrate a quick intellect or be a part of something bigger. Added bonus: the quick wit is frequently too quick. When the mouth gets going ahead of the brain, you’re in for trouble. And once you’ve said it…you can’t un-ring the bell.

Q: Wah! I’m being picked on!

A: See yourself as a victim and that’s what you’ll be. If you are truly being singled out, then it’s your chance to show people the meaning of grace under fire. Comport yourself with good humor, stay focused on your task, and don’t give your detractors any grist for the mill. You won’t be an attractive target if you don’t offer opportunities to get under your skin. Watch out for perpetual victims, too. Some people thrive on the idea that they are being wronged: it’s an excuse for their unhappiness. Don’t get sucked in, don’t buy it. They’ll just latch onto your good intentions like a vampire and turn on you the instant your exhaustion shows.

Q: Wah! I’m the best one here!

A: Someone has to lead. By example, by gesture, by stature, by behavior. If you’re really the finest musician in your group, you should feel humbled by the enormity of your responsibility, not encumbered by the failings of your peers. Act like the jerk now and when the playing field is leveled, the other musicians you couldn’t tolerate will come to collect in a big way.

Happy New Year! Now it’s on to collaborate with the spectacular Owldaughter and get this book PUBLISHED!! Pre-order info will be up soon, as will info about the upcoming tours. Email tour(at)emilywright(dot)net for details.