I’m sad today. Maybe it’s the snow that’s falling when my body wants it to be spring. Maybe it’s being alone for six days straight, a gift in many ways but also boring after a while. Maybe it’s that I was in Woodstock last week and I feel more and more distant from my life there, as if it’s gone from me forever. It’s not, of course, but it’s changed its place in my heart. Maybe it’s that I’m transitioning from writing music that others will hear soon, to writing for myself because doing concerts regularly is harder and harder. There’s relief in that but also loss. I’ve been struggling with this transition for several years now. I often think of Annie Haslam when I get in this particular funk. She’s the lead singer of the band Renaissance and someone I did concerts with years ago. I remember when she was going through this herself. Much of her identity was wrapped up in being a singer that people knew. When she began to retire, she started to paint in earnest. I admired her then and am inspired by her now because of her graceful transition. But then I wonder if it was as graceful as it looked or whether she was out of sorts the way I am now. My guess is that it was tricky terrain for her too.
In fact, my trip to Woodstock was filled with good stuff. The Writers’ Festival was dense with compelling stories, the workshop I led was excellent: the writing was inspiring and the people who attended were wonderful. I saw lots of old friends and places that filled me up with love. The reading I did with Abigail Thomas was well received and made me wish we could do it more often. People seemed genuinely moved by the combination of her work and mine. She’s so raw, and I suppose I am too. But the differences in the way we live and write seemed good for people to witness. After we read people asked questions. One of the things that came out of that was the fact that neither Abby nor I write everyday in any sort of disciplined way. We’re both erratic when it comes to creativity. Most writing advice says that a person should write at least an hour a day, once a day, every day. I don’t subscribe to that, although I probably would be better off if I did. But creativity is happening inside of me all the time. When I finally sit down to write or play the piano in a productive way, I’ve built up so much steam that I have to get it out. Even then it doesn’t flow easily. I have to work on it. When it starts to roll, that’s when I write or play every day, sometimes all day. I guess the point is that we’re all different in the way we do things. Our culture demands that we achieve things. It’s tiring and unnecessary. I’m not saying we should sit around doing nothing, but I sure wish the pressure to become something were less intense.
Today is a day for playing. Abby often reminds me that on days when I’m sad or lost I should make something. She’s right. It always works.