I think I did it. I think I've got the first draft of one of my commission songs ready to go. I finished it yesterday after working on it for at least three weeks.
Things I learned:
- I like inserting myself into the story (as a first person narrator, not really me) but if you're hired to tell someone else's story, you have to challenge yourself to take the harder road and consider whether first person is the right choice. (I did choose first person for this one)
- When the story doesn't match up with your own reality, you need to stop talking and start listening and observing. Be the shape shifter. Get out of your own head and spend some time in someone else's. I learned "write what you don't know" means having to work for it. Be the actor. Go method (that's a phrase I heard in a movie once- namely, "Kate & Leopold").
Also I learned I am out of practice. It's time for songwriting boot camp. Hopie lazy. Hopie need to write more songs.
Thanksgiving. We missed it last year. This year we're headed up to Camp Luther after evening services tomorrow night and I can't wait. I'm in charge of the bird. Other people get dressed up and bring out the fancy china. The Dunbars go the opposite direction and wear warm camping clothes, sleep in sleeping bags and bum around on Thanksgiving. It's the best retreat ever and I know I need it. Songwriting boot camp is going to take place there. So will walks, puzzles, games, fires, and hymn sings. I'm reading this book called, "Finish" and it talks about secret rules we all have that keep us from getting where we really want to go. For example, I have a secret rule that Christmas time is a holiday for everyone else but not me so I have to be Cinderella and work my ass off because I don't deserve to have a nice holiday. I've decided to break that rule this year. Secret rules. We all have them. Maybe you have a secret rule about working out like you're not allowed to be goofy or have fun if you exercise. You've invented the rule that exercise is supposed to suck- so you don't do it because who wants to change shoes and put on a sports bra for something that sucks?
You might have a secret rule that Thanksgiving can only be Thanksgiving if it looks a certain way. That's rubbish. Going to Camp Luther was an impulse one year that became a tradition and helped me learn that "breaking" the rules and finding the rest you really need is possible for all of us. Secret rules are just the devil's way of keeping you chained up. Don't let him win, man. He's THE WORST.
Advent. It's on. The meetings, the program, the songs, the practices. It's starting. If I could quite my day job and hang out at church for a few hours each day, that'd be cool. I could shape it all, make the calls, do the rehearsals. Instead, it's early mornings and late at nights and when I get a few hours here and there. It's still cool. But not as cool as Emily's Christmas program for this year that she wrote herself titled, "Highway to the Manger Zone." It's incredible and magnificent.
Passion. My passion is music. You might know I've got this record that just came out. It's getting airplay from people I don't personally know in places in the U.S. I've never been. That's a big step forward for me. I've got friends and new friends who are helping to get the songs heard and I am in amazement. On a side note, I've quit my day job three times in the last 4 years and I've asked for it back every time. I beg for it back because I need the money. Ya know, for groceries and tennis shoes and haircuts. Some might say it's safety. Some might say it's a hiding place.
So what is it? Is it the responsible thing to do or is it the thing keeping me from upping my hustle and working harder at the gigging? It definitely keeps me from doing the real work I wish to do all the time. But it also makes it so that I'm not gone every weekend.
So the future looks confusing. Yes, I want to gig gig gig. I love it. It feels like me. And also I want to be present here at home and have money for my kids college. I'm confused. I don't know what to do. One day I'm resolved to retire and the next I get offers to play gigs and I impulsively say YES.
For now I'm thankful for a finished (almost) song, a long weekend, a trip to State Football for our Centennial Broncos, daring to break the rules, passion that has purpose and knowing I'm not alone even if the future is scary. I'm thankful for your reading this. Be encouraged. Know that you encourage me. Happy Thanksgiving.