I find it fairly difficult to stay focused and to stay positive. If you know me even a little bit, you know that I’m easily thrown and get discouraged fairly frequently.
On the other hand, I am someone who pushes hard to get the things that I want and works endlessly to get past the “coach” that tells me that the floor is falling from beneath my feet.
I look back at past me often. The me that I feel was more driven when I was in high school. The me that built a makeshift recording studio in his bedroom, who taught himself how to play piano, who taught himself how to use recording software. I look at that me, the me that used to pump out music on a regular basis. The me that loved staying up until 4 in the morning writing music and I question… what changed?
I find it difficult to write now that I’m older and I’m not even that much older. I keep telling myself that I was a better writer in my angst. Somehow now I feel more… empty. It’s more of a “not feeling” kind of feeling. I would use the word “numb”, but I don’t think that “numb” properly describes this kind of absence of feeling.
It’s a big reason why I stopped producing my new plays. And while I have plenty of ideas and I shut them down because I feel like I can’t match what “younger me” wrote. I kill ideas before they have the time to grow, or I feel like my ideas are too big for my toolbox at the moment. At this point I have about 7 plays that haven’t seen the light of day, because I’m too focused on telling myself… you’ll write something better… something people actually care about.
The same goes for music. It’s weird though because I’m oddly very proud of the music that I’ve created more recently, but still, inside I feel the… well where’s the fire that used to drive you? Like, why is it that I haven’t written lyrics in over 2 years? What happened to that kid who loved writing poetry all the time? Do I just feel like I have nothing to say? I mean it’s true that I did go through quite a lot of emotional stress growing up, and I dealt (and still deal) with a lot of mental health issues, but now I feel more guarded or… judgy about my work. I don’t give myself the permission to make mistakes and try something new.
I think that’s why I’ve dived so far into sound design. There’s less pressure for me there. I’m supporting someone else’s work, while using tools and sounds that don’t make me feel vulnerable. They’re all instrumentals that you can’t really trace back to me, while my lyrics open you to my world. And let’s be honest here, I’ve released some really dark music that I still feel vulnerable having out there. Songs like The Author Wrote the End, or Anxiety, or Spin me in Circles…. Honestly, most of Distant Star was so vulnerable to me because it all came from places of hurt or insane and consuming love… and I still don’t know how it was received.
And then there’s Oasis Love, a baby I’ve nurtured for over 4 years now. I love it so dearly, and I’m so proud of it, but then I’m also always scared when we put it up again. This specifically blows my mind, because it’s been well received in every city I’ve toured it to, and there was never a bad review about it… well other than that one from the 30-minute workshop I did of it where the reviewer told said that it wasn’t a complete show and needed more time to incubate for it to reach it’s full potential… yes… that’s what a workshop is, but it definitely did incubate and reached it’s full-fledged monster state only a few months later.
I don’t know why I can’t see past the anxiety of me thinking that my work isn’t “good enough.” And I know “it’s an artist thing” and that our work is completely subjective and that you’ll never win everyone over, but does it ever get easier? Does there come a time when I don’t care if my work isn’t any good and I just plow right through it?
I think that’s why I like writing these small blog entries, because I get to hear the stupid silly thoughts that go through my head. J, if you want to write, just write. It’s what you tell your students all the time. But it’s easier to give advice than to take it.
*takes a deep sigh*
I can’t stop listening to Shake it Off tonight. It’s the song that inspired me to re-think writing lyrics. It’s dark, but poppy, and it’s FATM is a band I strive to write like. So I leave my anxiety with you and with this song. Hopefully I can shake this off and start writing a new song at 1:30 in the morning.