When I started writing songs it was like starting a wildfire. I remember writing all the time. In the first few months I had written dozens of crappy songs and I would not stop. 

Have you ever read that quote from Ira Glass about how our ability and taste don't match up when we first start writing or pursuing really anything we love? We have high standards for what we find beautiful and worthy, but when we're just starting out we can't create anything that passes muster. His words matched my experience perfectly. So I wrote and wrote and wrote in pursuit of a better version of what I had written previously.

Also it felt like a super power. Like I woke up one morning and could start fire and hold it in my hand. I was so afraid that if I let it linger, if I didn't pick up the pen, then I'd wake up one morning and it would be gone, so I never let too much time go by without writing because the thought of losing this new super power was terrifying.

Fast forward nine years. Now it's still me with a pen in my hand, but it's harder. I have these past songs breathing down my neck, it's harder to find that fire and hold it in the palm of my hand. I know where the mark the is. I know what the song should be and knowing that gets me a little scared and doubtful. 

I had a conversation with a successful songwriter a couple of summers back. We were eating off of cafeteria trays propped on our laps under a tent for shade at a BBQ where the beer was free. I call him "Professor" in my mind. The professor was expressing this very sentiment that I am feeling now. The words are out there, but they're harder to find and there's no point in digging if you don't know what you're mining for. The songs from the past can turn into stones around your neck so heavy that it's hard to climb up to the next peak. I get it. I see what he means. I'm not like him, he's cool and I'm not that cool, but at the time I didn't see what he meant. At the time I tried to help. I meant well. If I find myself talking to him again at a BBQ with free beer, I think I'll just let his words soak in and nod my head and eat my apple pie in silence.

Silence. It's everywhere. I'd like to break through it and that's what I'm trying to do. Nine years ago it was easy to break through. Now it feels heavier. Now it feels  like one line at a time is a good day. One line at a time reminds me that the fire's not out yet.

Comment