Here I am staring at a blank screen, wondering. What do you want to hear from me? What do you want me to write about? What can I do for you? Tell you a little about my writing process? (I feel a little 'ding' in my tummy) Ok.
It's something I've been working on for a couple of years now. It all started when I realized that I had hardly written a new song in ages. Daddy would ask me about my latest song and for the longest time I'd have no good answer. Jamie and I would be jamming on some new band songs and he'd be contributing left and right but I would feel like I had nothing to offer.
C'mon, I'm busy! With work, with just trying to keep up with the normal demands of an adult who feels the 'normal' obligations to pay my bills, do my job well, keep the house from falling apart and remember to call my mother every day or so. All of those things are not necessarily easy for me. ( And I don't even have kids! I can't even imagine how you parents begin to cope.) Hell, it wasn't until the advent of online bill paying that I really started to get my financial life under control (hallelujah!) but that's another story for another time.
So I was shuffling along, getting the normal things done. But at some point you have to remember who you are - what is it that you're supposed to do. And among other things, I know that I'm a songwriter. I write and perform songs. Have done since I was knee high to a grasshopper. And when I go for a long time without doing it, I get this low angry hum in the pit of my stomach, like a ball of bees. As Rosanne Cash put it "If I ignore my work, I start having anxiety attacks."
So I finally started focusing on at least doing a little each day (or so). First thing in the morning, I sit to meditate for a few minutes and then write at least one lyric down. Often times, my pen keeps moving - sometimes it doesn't. But by taking that first required action, sometimes the machine kicks in and wheels start turning. Or more lyrics and snatches of music will flow through my head throughout the day (hold on, hold on a sec! where's my friggen pen?!!) And so I'll just keep working on songs even if I'm not sure they're any good. It's a snail's pace, but it keeps me moving forward.
The flip side is that when I stop ignoring my work, and start working on new songs and writing again (even for this blog!) I get a different kind of anxiety: am I ever going to write a good song again? is this song stupid? what do I have to say? is it stupid? (lots of variations on whether or not what I'm doing at the moment is stupid)
But it's temporary because at some point I get to the end of the song or the story and when it's done - whether or not it's any good - I get some kind of dopamine hit. A healthier junkie's high. And anyway, at least I'm trying. At least I'm holding the bad bees at bay. At least I'm taking another step toward my dharma.
And that one new step is good enough. As long as I take another one tomorrow. And the next day. And the next...