I like the idea of the 30-day whatever challenge. Remember those 30-day music challenges that were going around a few years ago on Facebook? Every day you had to post a song. Then there’s the 30-day poetry challenge, which I have been participating in every year since it started in 2011, but I only actually wrote 30 poems last year. (The first two years, I gave up around day 5 or 6, I think.) Once, I decided for 30 days, I would have to submit something a poem, story, song, etc. for publicaition every day and post about it on my Livejournal (yes, I still have a Livejournal. I’ve had it since 2001!). These challenges actually force me to quit talking and do some of the things I’m always talking about. I’d like to be more active in the blogosphere so I decided that I would post a blog every day for the next 30 days. (I will split up the blogs between my personal blog and my writing blog so that I don’t post a lot of stuff that’s not writing related on my writing blog.)
Anyway. So today, I’d like to write about how I’ve reconnected with my love of music.
Many of you may have read my little “I’m giving up music” post that I wrote last June. In it, I said that I was taking an indefinite break from music to pursue my writing career. While this was true, the part that I didn’t really expand on was that I was just burnt out with music. I had gotten to a point where I felt incredibly disconnected from my songs and from my audience. I felt like no one wanted to hear my music, no one cared about my songs, my songs were too sad, etc. etc. And the thought of playing my music in front of people again filled me with so much anxiety. I just couldn’t do it anymore.
Honestly, I was feeling pretty depressed about it. I just didn’t want to sing anymore. Because it made me think of how I essentially failed at music. (Or at least, that’s how I saw it.)
Ironically, I poured all of my energy into my novel, The Muses, which is all about music. Sylvia (the protagonist) is a musician, her father is a musician, her boyfriend is a musician. She is obsessed with music and music shapes how she sees much of the world. So I was taking a break from music, and yet, I wasn’t at all. Because music is as much a part of me as it is Sylvia (that aspect of the novel is very autobiographical).
But it wasn’t really writing about music that made me re-discover my own voice as a musician. A couple of days ago, I sang in a women’s trio at my spiritual home, Unity North Atlanta. I often sing in the worship team there, which is always fun, but something was different this time. I also started going to ukulele class at Unity and learning to play the uke, which led to my friend, Julie (the worship team leader at Unity) and me to write a chant called “God is Here” on our ukuleles. We performed it before service on Sunday, and it was so much fun. Then, we sang two songs in our women’s trio with some really fun harmonies, and I was feeling so joyful the whole service.
I’m not sure if it was playing a new instrument, writing a fun chant, singing complex harmonies with two incredibly talented singers, or my determination to be more positive in 2014, but I am feeling good about singing again, about playing music. And when I was singing on Sunday, it was just about the joy of singing, connecting with the audience, and expressing something bigger than myself through music… which is what singing used to be about for me. I feel like I was missing that for a while, but it has come back.
One of the songs we sang on Sunday was “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz. While the song is typically interpreted to be about a romantic relationship, Julie remarked that for her, it was about not giving up on her inner child… not giving up on herself. For me, as I was singing, I found myself thinking about not giving up on myself as a musician–on myself as an artist.
One of the joys of being an artist/musician/writer, though, for me is how amazing it is when my attitude towards art changes–when I learn something or grow as artist and how that often leads to my growth as a person. But then, I’m not sure how to separate the two. Sara, the person and Sara, the artist are one in the same.
Well, I guarantee you not all of my blogs for the next 30 days will be this long or this deep, but I thought it was a good way to start. I will leave you with a poem from my collection of poems, Driving Downtown to the Show (2012). This poem is a demonstration of not only my love for music but my love for writing about music.
What are you doing Saturday night?
Cancel your plans!
You need to go to the abandoned
house on North Booth Road
for the ghost party.
It starts around 10,
I heard about it from Sherman after the Bitter End show.
Bring your own booze.
Janis will pull a harpoon
out of her dirty red bandanna.
Jim will show you
the way to the next
whiskey bar – don’t ask why.
John will take you down
when he’s going to
strawberry fields. Jimi will give you
that purple haze – all in your brain.
George will be there, too, while
his guitar gently weeps.
Johnny will be there, but he’ll
still miss someone. Freddy
will tell you that nothing really matters. (Anyone
can see.) Sid will try to start
anarchy in the UK.
Michael will be avoiding
Billie Jean who can’t stop
telling everyone he’s the one.
Bob will be jammin’ of course.
(I hope you like jammin’ too.)
Kurt will get so high, he’ll scratch
til he bleeds.
And Jeff will whisper to you his last