End of Year Thoughts I

As with everyone else, I too have had a bit of a weird 2020, pandemic notwithstanding. I started the year in a foul mood due to a Former Day Job situation, a distinct lack of productivity in my writing (partly due to said situation), and on top of that, I was finally letting myself process a lot of personal issues so I could move on. We flew to New England to visit friends and family on one of the coldest late winter weeks in March. The pandemic did play a significant role in my leaving the FDJ at the end of that month, setting me off on a long stretch of unemployment on the one hand, but a renewed burst of creativity as well as a much needed mental and emotional clarity on the other.

I listened to a lot of music during that time, surprising absolutely no one. The internet radio dial (so to speak) has been permanently stuck at kexp.org, causing any commercial radio listening in the car to feel pathetic and bland in response. I’ve listened to new music on Fridays occasionally downloaded the albums I wanted. I gave my writing process — and the listening habits that often go along with it — a critical rethink as well, spending some time not writing or worrying about productivity. And after a few months, I finally allowed myself to return to the music and creativity with almost no strings attached.

It’s been a long year, and of course I’ve started this month by looking back on all the albums, EPs and singles that have dropped since January. So many release dates changed, tours cancelled or postponed, performances livestreamed. The music industry changed a hell of a lot because of the pandemic. Some of it for the worse, but some of it for the better; it caused a lot of bands and clubs to do a massive rethink in order to survive. A number of bands like Crowded House, Elbow, and even Seatbelts, utilized communications platforms normally used for business to synchronize themselves and perform in the safety of their own homes. In a dark and uncertain time, there was a cloud of determination and creativity that kept things going.

I’m not sure when this uncertainty is going to end, or the pandemic for that matter, but with certain changes in the air, some of them long-awaited and positive, we can move on and even evolve. I’m very curious as to how 2021 will treat us, creatively and productively. Things are definitely different now. The pandemic (and the election, let’s be fair) changed things just enough that I think it gave society a bit of a nudge out of its complacency and stasis. Will it continue in this manner? Who knows, but I’m pretty sure it will at least have inspired enough people to make the next couple of years interesting in a good way.

Looking for a Song

song writing

Recently I’ve been thinking about my creative output.  I mean, yeah, I write novels and all that, but that’s over at my other blog.  I’m talking about my music and my artwork.

I’ve been focusing on my writing for ages — mainly due to the Great Trilogy Completion and Edit Project Wot Took FAR Too Long — that my love of drawing and playing music fell by the wayside.  Ages ago I used to draw maps in my spare time, and I used to write songs for the few bands I’d started.  I even added both of them to my whiteboard schedule some years back.  But somewhere down the line I chose to focus solely on my writing, ultimately to get better at it and make something of it.

But now that the Trilogy is done and released, and now that I’m working on much smaller projects that aren’t eating up all my time, I find myself itching to return to those two loves.  I’ve been wanting to do so for a while (yes, I know I’ve blogged about it before), and now I have the time and the inclination.

So how do I go about it?

Well, I’m thinking that I should do the same thing that I’ve been doing for my writing: open up a playground for it somewhere.

For my writing, I use the 750 Words site to write outtakes and come up with new ideas.  I call it my word playground for that purpose; it’s there for me to hit a simple word count goal and try out a few things.  So I started thinking: maybe it’s time I do that for the music and the artwork again.  Select a few days a week, and dedicate some time — say, a half hour or so — to do nothing but draw or practice on one of my guitars.  And as an extra incentive, I can use the mp3 recorder app on my phone to record some of the song demos.  [For those playing along: it’s the Hi-Q mp3 recorder app available at the Google store.  The free version records up to 10 minutes, and the sound quality is pretty good considering.]  The aim is to either finish a completed song or piece of art, or make headway on a possible future project.

It’s not much to ask, and it’ll get me back into the habit of working on such things with more frequency, which is the whole point.