I subscribe to a blog created by a publishing company run by and for women writers called SheWrites Press. Every week or so I get an email with a bunch of links to articles I hardly ever read, but one last week caught my eye. The title was “Don’t Quit Your Day Job.” That phrase has always irritated me. What I think when I hear it is You’re not good enough to do the thing you love so don’t fool yourself. I might also think the person who just said that thinks the grind of a 9 to 5 job is more virtuous, more responsible and mature than the person who commits everything to their art. As far as I know, no one has ever said these words to me directly, but it’s become a cliché thing to say to or about artists who are struggling with the business side of their work.
I recently read a book on Finding Vocation written by a Quaker named Parker Palmer. Some of what he writes about describes my current struggle exactly. He talks about a time in his life when he felt lost and frustrated. He thought he should have been more successful by then (he was in his mid-thirties). When he went
This morning I got a message from someone who’s been reading my emails and blogs since 2000 when they started. He wondered why he hadn’t heard from me for a while. Was I well? Unwell? Happy? Too busy to write? I was glad to tell him I was happy, busy, not too busy to write, just too busy to have anything real to offer. His nudge, a note from my dad this morning, a conversation with my husband yesterday, and a concert I did Saturday night got me thinking about what’s worth writing about so here I am again.
On Sunday, my husband Brent and I went with our dogs up to some land he owns south of town. To get to his place you need a 4-wheel drive vehicle. It’s a challenging ride. There’s a lot of bumping and swaying to get to the first gate, then even more to get to the second. You have to hold on tight. He and the dogs love it and so do I, but I’m not always willing to endure the trek. Often I’d rather sit in my studio and play or write.
Brent’s 45 acres are adjacent to The San Isabel National Forest. Westcliffe, the town we live in, is
Once a week my friends Doris and Nicole and I meet by phone or in person to do some writing together. One or more of us offers a prompt then we take 20 minutes to write quickly in response to that prompt. This morning was our writing day. Sometimes what I write could be developed into something more, sometimes what I write is a disaster, sometimes I learn something without realizing I needed to learn it. This morning was one of those times. The prompt was:
Keeping your shaky hand steady
Here's what I wrote:
One of the things artists like me deal with on a daily basis is the question of what am I doing, and why am I doing it. Add to that the need to do whatever it is we can do to make a buck, get noticed, or be heard. I’m so used to it that although it wears me out, I don’t question whether it could be any other way. I know it could be if only I got a regular job that involved a time clock, a job description, and a hierarchy within which to
Every week my friends Nicole and Doris and I meet by phone or in person to do some writing together. This week all three of us are physically here, and we have time to meet each morning for 90 minutes. Lucky, lucky us! This morning was our third in a row and tomorrow will be our fourth.
We meet at 8:00, pour tea, then one of us offers a prompt to which we each respond in writing for 20 minutes (timed). Quick writing without an agenda, or time to think too much, can access different ideas and perspectives – often the writing sparkles because we haven't tried too hard.
Eight days ago I sent vocal tracks via the internet to a guy named Paul Opalach in Connecticut. He and my drummer friend Mike Marble were setting up to re-record four of my songs that I wanted to hear differently just for the fun of it. I sent them the exact same vocals I used for "I'm in Love," a song I released 18 months ago on an album called Journey. This afternoon I am smiling all kinds of joy because of what Paul sent back. He had a free night in his studio, he says, so he had fun with my song, and wow, is it great. Enjoy it! He's playing everything. I'm just the singer. VERY fun.
Below is a piece I recently wrote that describes "Grace", a song I wrote in the late '80s and which has had many incarnations. I've been writing about some of my songs over the last six months and submitted this story last week to a publisher who is putting together a book of stories about music. Many of you know this song so I thought you might enjoy reading it. A copy of one of many recorded versions is attached. This one was recorded in Woodstock, New York in June, 2002. Grace, from Sweets for the Soul mp3(Just click on the link. This is from the album called Sweets for the Soul)
We talk about Facebook a lot: whether to be on it or not, what to post, and what not to post. A friend of mine gets herself in trouble by posting political comments that are offensive to the people she loves most – like her children and siblings, many of which are on the other side of the political fence.
What I worry about is the demise of the word ‘friend.’ To friend or not to friend, as though ‘friend’ were a verb rather than a person you know, love, and trust with secrets and intimate conversation. And the new word ‘unfriend': another verb that removes the possibility of reconciliation, resolution, and forgiveness between two people. You say something I don’t agree with – as though that’s a measure of friendship – and, click, you’re not my friend anymore.