Despite coming home from work every night feeling like this (is full-time work supposed to be this tiring, or am I just abnormally lethargic?), I’ve finally, very slowly, been moving in the right direction with my music projects recently.
I’m currently 1/3rd of the way through The Artist’s Way, a 12-week programme that teaches one how to be creative, and how to maintain a healthy attitude towards art and creativity. I did the programme for the first time back in 2007, and wrote more in those 12 weeks than I had done for about 2 years! I’m hoping for similar results this time round, as I’ve been stuck in a bit of a writing rut this year. It’s going well so far – I feel much more inspired and clear-minded at the moment, though I’ve yet to break through the wall of my writer’s block. I’m sure that will happen soon.
A little while ago I recorded some piano, vocals, and bass for my friend Dan on his upcoming EP. I had a good time writing and recording my parts, and he was really happy with everything I did, which was so nice to hear.
I also played at the recent Swansea Feminist Network music fundraiser a few weeks ago, and it went really well! People made some lovely comments about my performance; I think it was my best so far.
I’ve spent years doubting my abilities, and it’s only really in the last 3 months or so that I’ve stopped underestimating and demeaning myself, and started to give myself credit for what I can do. I’ve always struggled to judge my own abilities accurately – I veer from thinking I’m useless and that people only compliment me to be polite, to thinking that I can take on anything, any song, any band. I’m so indecisive, and that extends to how I feel about myself. It can be hard to feel secure when it comes to music – in such an oversaturated scene (particularly oversaturated with acoustic singer/songwriters), it’s easy to dismiss yourself as a nobody.
I really need to book more gigs, but I still feel too nervous and worried about it all. I go through this phase every few months – I’ll play a gig and it’ll go really well, and for a few days I’ll remember that I need to play live more often and decide that as soon as I get the time, I will actually arrange to play somewhere else. But once the buzz has disappeared, all my doubts and insecurities creep back in – what if no one shows up? what if people feel uncomfortable because my music is a bit unusual? What if my friends can’t make it that night and I have to go alone? What if the sound engineer looks down on me because I don’t know my way around a PA? It’s difficult to get past those doubts when they all feel so realistic.
It’s an awkward combination, being both a musician and a naturally quiet person. As a musician, I am a bit of an extrovert – I want to share my music with people, to play live and entertain, to feel the roar of applause and supportive pats on the back from people congratulating me on my bravery (regardless of how good my performance was, there’s something to be said about just having the guts to get up there and do it). And yet, at heart I am also quite reserved and cautious. I’m not great around people (new people in particular). I do get flustered, and trip over my words, and forget my lines, and embarrass myself easily. Singing before a room full of people is scary for anyone, but especially so for someone who is already nervous in front of people…
I’m going to take it one step at a time though – I try to remind myself that I don’t need to play ALL the gigs right now, that I don’t need to come down so hard on myself for not being able to muster up the courage to do something that is actually very frightening. It’s okay to spend some time finding my feet.