Still not writing songs for so many reasons. I'm afraid the songs won't be that good. I'm afraid they won't sound the way the previous songs sound. I'm afraid of writing new songs when I've got so many songs waiting in the wings from past projects.

1. I'm afraid the songs won't be that good. I'm always afraid of that before I write a song. These days I feel like I don't know where to start. Like my ears need something new and I need more time alone. Are those excuses? Yes and no. If I really wanted to, I could crank out something in 20 minutes and then make myself crank out something else in the meantime. But I'm not doing that either. Ok, fine. I'll crank something out. There's no shame in a bad, finished song if it leads to a better finished song.

2. I'm afraid they won't sound like the previous songs of mine. And that's very likely. Different days, different thoughts, different place in life all lend themselves to different work. But people liked the old work. What if they don't like it when I go "electric"? (That's just a turn of phrase. I'm not going electric.)

3. I can't write new songs because I've got this back log of old songs that need my attention. Now this one feels kinda true also. You guys, I have a HUGE back log of songs. Do I let them disappear? Do I pick my first string players and let the rest be working material never meant for public performance? If I let them sit around long enough then I've made my decision. They'll fade away and be gone. If I take a minute to go through the stacks and find the keepers and clean up the rough ones, I'll be saving some of them forever. But looking back feels like a cop out.

Which reminds me of the other breakthrough I had in my "Next Best Self" group a couple of weeks ago.

In an effort to try and articulate what my problem is, I finally said, "I need to graduate from needing someone else's stamp of approval." 

And it's totally true. Even when it comes to writing songs. 

Like a dog begging for scraps I sit right beside the table where the cool kids are all gathered and pray they might send something good my way. Song contests, showcases, elder statesmen, concert series, radio DJs, music publications, I am just sitting here desperately hoping someone will tell me I'm good enough. I've spent all those years patiently toiling and praying I get my card stamped with just the right thing to give me assurance that I'm permitted to continue. 

Dudes, that is a losing battle and the best thing I can think of is taking my toys and going home. Who isn't playing that game? Who isn't exhausted by trying to get validation from peers and friends and colleagues that will put an end to the bad thoughts, the negative self-talk, the doubts that creep in right after all those likes and shares and playlists start to fade away?

And the only person who can give me that diploma is me. The only person who can burn all the gold stars and temporary stamps of approval is me. That's what I'd like to do. I'd like to write whatever I want to write, say whatever I want to say, build this half-assed, hobbling, hopeful music career however I want and stop looking around for someone cooler or more connected to talk to in the lobby of Folk Alliance. 

So tomorrow I'm starting a life coaching course. I feel unworthy and unprepared, but I'm jumping in anyway. Today I'm going for a run and waiting tables and I'm going to pray on this idea of boldly doing what I feel called to do. If my next album comes out of Duluth, MN or Alliance, NE or wherever, it's gonna be cool because I know it to be. Not because it's wearing the right clothes or living in the right town or thanking the right people in the liner notes.

Fudge that sugar. You can't be a beggar and a badass at the same time. You just can't. Or at least I can't. So I will very imperfectly and poorly cobble together something cool. Like in "Pretty in Pink" when Molly Ringwald makes a stunner of a prom dress out of two old second hand prom dresses. Only it'll take longer and I can't sew. That's what I got, my friends. Be excellent to each other. Love, Hope