I was taking a break in the afternoon from writing songs and packaging up Chandler orders to get outside and grab some pork belly tacos at Nick's work. I've always chosen solitary, creative careers. Sometimes I need to surround myself with happy strangers eating tacos and sipping on cappuccinos to get my creative juices flowing again.
"So, what have you been up to today?" asked Nick's co-worker as he wiped off a coffee-stained counter top.
"Oh, you know," I replied, "I'm busy writing all my bad songs."
"My bad songs. I've got to get all of my bad songs out of me so that the good ones can come through."
He silently navigated away from my reply, and asked me how I liked my coffee and the weather. I think the prospect of somebody making bad art on purpose made him feel a little uncomfortable.
Let me tell you a secret, artist to artist: Not EVERYTHING you make is going to be amazing.
Ugh oh. Cat's out of the bag.
Where do you go from here? My opinion: simply keep going. Keep writing songs. Keep writing chapters. Keep cooking up your latest creations. While you're working, don't focus on all the things that you are doing wrong. Focus on all that you are learning and all the ways you can improve. These ideas will make your next project that much more awesome!
Yesterday, I wrote a bad song. I wrote a string arrangement coupled with a hacked-up drum loop. Then I wrote a mediocre melody with mediocre lyrics on top. Instead of wallowing in how bad it was and how the universe was out to get me, I stopped to eat a taco, grab some caffeine, and got right back to work on the next song, implementing improvements I learned from what didn't work on the previous song.
Something beautiful is going to fall out in between all the not-so-good stuff. Trust me. Don't be afraid to make crap. It's a good thing!
It's been awhile since, I've released new music. After going through a bunch of garage band files that have been cluttering up my laptop, suddenly I realized I had the bare bones of a record, or at least a solid EP!
Yesterday, I received a timely email with the subject: "hey, I really love your music!!!"
It wasn't for my old band "Meg and Dia". It was in regards to my last project, "The Khaki Scouts".
The email read:
I just wanted to say that I just found you on band camp, and I really enjoy your music! Are there any new tracks coming from you soon? :)
From Sweden with love,
I thought Nick and I had taken our band camp page down, so I was very surprised to get this email. It was just the ammunition I needed to start working on these new songs.
And I think this just illuminates that even when you aren't sure that you are making a difference, or that anyone is connecting with the stuff you are making, there's always somebody out there who is eating up everything you are doing.
Maybe they are not as vocal as you wish they were. Maybe you can't see them. Maybe you'll never meet them, but maybe, just maybe you are making them smile and stirring their soul behind the soft glow of a computer screen.
We hear you.