Friday, April 26, 2013

Confessions and Update

Well, here we are approaching the end of April and all of my good intentions about re-vamping my blog, like having regular weekly and monthly features, are obviously out the window.

It was just too structured, and I'm not a structured person with an orderly life. When it got too structured, writing this blog stopped being fun. It stopped being me. So guess what? I stopped doing it.

I think there's a lesson in there for me.

I've been really struggling for the past three or four months and doing a fair bit of bitching and whining about how hard it is to be a musician. 

I played a benefit gig on April 12 and I was in a foul mood, feeling cranky about being asked to do a free gig (despite the fact that I enthusiastically said "yes" to the gig, it was for friends and they are raising money to go to an impoverished country to build houses, for Pete's sake!) But there I was at the gig, in a terrible mood. Cranky as all get out. Thinking terrible things to myself, like, "No one wants to book me for a paying gig" and "I'm pathetic". 

And then I got up on stage and the love just poured out. I love playing my songs on stage. Just LOVE it. 

I hadn't done it for a while. I hadn't been up on stage since the magical gig we had in West Dublin at the end of January. 

When I get up on stage and sing to a listening audience, the energy of love just pours through me and I'm exactly where I need and want to be.

It's not the musician part of being a musician that's not fun for me, it's the other stuff

My music is good. I was taping an episode of The Bluenose Opera House yesterday and we played a few of the songs from my new CD, Blackbirds. I probably looked like a bit of a narcissistic jerk, because I hadn't heard those songs in a while and they sounded really good to me. I was just grooving along to them. 

Making music, live or recorded, is fun. 
Collaborating with great players is fun. 
Designing album art is fun. 

Booking shows is not fun.
Selling CDs is not fun.
Having to step over the boxes of CDs in my apartment is not fun (I know, I could put them in a corner, but just see the start of this blog post to know that I am not an orderly person).

So, this is the challenge I face - how do I navigate the business side without it becoming so UN-fun and resented that I don't want to do the music part anymore? What do you do with the parts of your life or business that feel like chores? Grit your teeth? Skip them? Should I just call it a day? Or keep going; doing as much of the parts that I hate that I can stand at any one time? I'd love your advice.


  1. Oh, Alex, those are such great questions! I wish I had great answers.

    In my business I have started to outsource some of the un-fun, and in doing so, realized that I do kinda like doing most of that stuff. I thought that computer time was draining me, now I'm not so sure. It's an ongoing unfolding of what works and what doesn't. I don't think there's an end point to this, just more re-jigging all the time. "Balance is not about standing still"...

    I did make a list once with "things I procrastinate" on one side and "things I jump to" on the other, and then worked slowly on shifting my time towards the things on list 2, by either outsourcing or just phasing out whatever was on list 1. It was helpful.

    Yet, the disconnect between what you love and what you DON'T love sounds more distinct in your case. I think there are more shades of grey in my example.

    What strikes me most about all this is how *totally magical* playing music is for you. It busts through all the grey and the shadows. It's so damn beautiful! So full of life and love. So alchemical.

    I wish you gig after gig this summer, so much that you're excited to come home and blog about it, or that you are planted in different soil, and you don't feel the need to blog at all. Maybe your writing wants to go in another direction. Maybe right now (and maybe from now on) the blog is more draining than nourishing.

    Musicians don't NEED blogs. You don't NEED to keep in touch with us this way. You do need to play though. And play and play and play.

    Glad to be a witness to your journey!

    1. Yes, what Chris says.

    2. Dear CKF,
      Thank you very much for this thoughtful reply. I love the idea of making a procrastinate vs. thrill list. I've been trying to track the procrastination in the rest of my life - certain volunteer work I put off and put off while other volunteer work I leap to. I am trying to weed out the things I don't want to do and stick with the thrills!

      I actually really like writing in my blog, I just didn't like writing in it regularly and keeping it tidy. I hate tidiness. It actually bothers me. Sometimes, I feel a huge societal judgment around that, but I think I need to shrug that off. I am like what I'm like.

      Thanks for the wishes of gigs. I hope. <3!

    3. "I hate tidiness. It actually bothers me." <---this feels like a residual "UK" thing? Like Hobbits? :) No worries, you'd fit into plenty of households that I know!!! (I love this string of thought. I had to jump in. )

  2. Hey woman, sending so much love from our little patch of swamp down here - because man do I get this. On so many levels. (Our house currently contains the majority of 3 CD releases scattered about various corners - because we got tired of tripping over the boxes.)

    I have one piece of advice, and if I can ever learn to follow it, I feel I will have mastered my most diligent lesson yet - find professional help. :)

    I know - the money thing. That's usually my block at any rate, but I've been doing a lot of calculating recently and discovered how much time (effort and time have a great deal of value, in my book anyways) I've wasted because I thought, "Oh, that's not too complicated/difficult/, I'll just go ahead and do that myself!" But I've spent the last 13 years doing just that, and in all of my calculating I realized that the effort of doing things that were 'challenging' but not impossible only turned out to be distractions (for me) and great reasons for procrastinating :) keeping me from getting deeper, or getting 'actual' work done on dance, choreography, music, whatever.

    I was convinced I had to do it all myself. And that actually changed *THIS* week. I think it settled into my body yesterday. I'm going to hire someone to *DO* my website.

    Again, money, but I'm convinced it'll just 'work out.' I've become convinced that in the midst of me acknowledging that other people have the skillsets I need and I have the skillsets that other people need, we will meet in the middle, somewhere, somehow. We will make it happen. Money, trade, whatever. I know this is how it can work - everyone doing what they love, and each of us helping the other do what they love.

    Obviously my advice is not personally tested, but it's what I've got. And from one "do it yourself-er" to another, please consider letting someone who loves the stuff that you don't, do that, while you get on with the doing of the stuff that you do love. ♥ Given with absolute respect. Now to go follow my advice ;-)

    1. Dear Charlie,

      Thank you MILLIONS for this reply (and for buying my cd on Bandcamp and recommending my music on Facebook). I feel very gifted by your kindness, generosity and understanding this afternoon.

      Your advice is well-timed. I've actually been considering some out-sourcing and wondering what to do and how to do it... It is both difficult and exhilarating to accept that one doesn't have to do everything...

      I hope that your web project works out in the right way for you (I'm excited to see it, when it's done!) And I wish for both of us that we find the right way to embrace our strengths and find the right help in the areas where we need it.

      <3 !!!!

    2. AH! Totally welcome! On all counts - I did you a great disservice that you'd never know about otherwise, but I'll confess here - I first listened to your music when I was in a "not so personal-great place." I believe this affected my hearing of your music. Because today, I came back here with new fresh ears and was like, "why didn't I buy this?" and when I shared your link, it was totally because I could see those people sitting in their cars or houses really groovin to your voice and energy. So, yeah. All of it! True stories from the sometimes-brain-dead. :) Good luck and all kinds of having our cakes and eating them too! ♥

    3. Thanks, Charlie! I know what you mean - state of mind can affect how I hear music, too. I generally have to hear something 3 times - or live - before I know whether I like it or not. So glad you liked mine when you listened to it this time. <3