What some readers might not know about me is that I have a Master’s Degree in music composition. It’s not something I’ve hidden, but it isn’t something I talk about that much, either. Ever since I earned my degree, I’ve been at a bit of a loss as to what I really want to accomplish with the knowledge I acquired.
Let’s rewind to 2017, the year I graduated from this program. I had finished my Bachelor’s degree, and went straight through to the Master’s. By the time I reached the end, I was totally burnt out. But on top of that, I was feeling very discouraged.
Most of my experience obtaining the degree was positive. My private instructor in composition was very supportive and encouraging. I learned so much from him, and through him I achieved compositional independence, which was something I lacked after a Bachelor’s degree. I was positive I could write music on my own, and it would be good. The courses I took were also very enriching and left me with a lot of skills and knowledge I couldn’t pick up elsewhere.
When I reached my final thesis defence, however, my experience totally deflated. The panel of judges asked me lots of hard questions, they made me incredibly nervous, and they left some feedback that had me certain I wasn’t going to pass.
After, I stood in the hallway while the professors debated my fate, feeling more and more sick. My work wasn’t worthy of a degree. I’d wasted everyone’s time. But then, the panelists emerged a few minutes later, offered me congratulations, and sent me on my way. I walked home, trembling the whole time. I felt like I didn’t deserve the degree, after all the questions I stumbled through and all the skeptical glances from these professors. That if I announced my accomplishment to the world, it’d be yanked away from me.
I was exhausted after that thesis defence for months. It was incredibly difficult to find motivation in writing music, and I distanced myself from the people I’d met at school. On top of everything else, I worked a horrible retail job, so that also left me especially run down. All in all, life wasn’t going great for someone who’d just earned a freaking Master’s degree. I should’ve been celebrating! I should’ve been seeking out new opportunities and advancing my career! But I was frozen.
That was when I turned to writing.
I’d always wanted to be an author, same as I’d had dreams about music. But, since I’d begun my university training, my writing habits had become quite sporadic. I hadn’t touched my manuscript in months when I decided to open the document.
During those six months post-graduation where I was unmotivated and discouraged in music, I rewrote my novel I Knew Him. It’d been a project I’d been trying to make perfect for years. I began the rewrite, and quickly slipped back into the characters that had been left waiting. It made me so happy to return to this world I loved, and it satisfied my need for creativity. I felt a freedom in writing that I hadn’t felt in music in a while. There was no little voice in my head telling me I was bad, or I wasn’t innovative enough, or whatever other criticisms I put on myself with my music.
And music continued to play a role in my writing, featuring drafts with characters who were musicians themselves. I wrote fragments of songs to stick into narratives, and built concepts where music played a central role. It was still very present in my life, but it was present in a way that brought me happiness. Writing novels reopened the window I’d shut on writing music, and transformed my ideas on how I could use this degree I’d fought for.
As I approach the third year after graduating from my program, I am slowly finding my way back. While I have written music since graduation, it was always for a workshop or upon request by a musician friend. I haven’t written something for the sake of writing it. But I’m getting there. I’ve taken steps towards making that happen.
Writing words was there for me when I needed it most. It satisfied my creativity and gave me something to look forward to at the end of each day. And it still gives me those feelings. I think it always will. I’m happy I could turn to it when something else that brought me joy no longer did. Now, I’m finding ways to bring that joy back, to incorporate both mediums into one, and to just be satisfied with my abilities and talents. I’m doing my best to silence that little voice in the back of my head.
The beaches of Grand-Barachois had been Kat’s summer home for years. There, she created her own world with her “summer friends,” full of possibilities and free from expectation. But one summer, everything changed, and she ran from the life she’d created.
Now seventeen and on the brink of attending college, Kat is full of regret. She’s broken a friendship beyond repair, and she’s dated possibly the worst person in the world. Six months after their break-up, he still haunts her nightmares. Confused and scared, she returns to Grand-Barachois to sort out her feelings.
When she arrives, everything is different yet familiar. Some of her friends are right where she left them, while some are nowhere to be found. There are so many things they never got to do, so many words left unsaid.
And then there’s Tristan.
He wasn’t supposed to be there. He was just a guy from Kat’s youth orchestra days. When the two meet again, they become fast friends. Tristan has a few ideas to make this summer the best one yet. Together, they build a master list of all the things Kat and her friends wanted to do but never could. It’s finally time to live their wildest childhood dreams.
But the past won’t let Kat go. And while this may be a summer to remember, there’s so much she wants to forget.
Abigail de Niverville is an author and composer based in Toronto, Canada. Born on the East Coast of the country, Abigail draws inspiration from her experiences growing up there. She’s especially fond of writing contemporary young adult novels and poetry. Abigail holds and M.Mus from the University of Toronto and writes music in many genres, including classical, pop, and film. She is constantly working on new music projects and drafting story ideas.