The tension between creating for creativity’s sake and using creativity to create a product for other people to engage with is constantly present for me. The rigidity of setting deadlines and grinding to bring something to completion is at odds with the feeling of flow that exists when I am creating for fun.
I do a lot of my music writing alone. Oftentimes, I don’t have control over the moments when inspiration comes, but I will enter this out of body state where I see the world as art instead of a mundane experience. It can happen in my car, or when I am running—I will see the world around me like raw crystals and try to gather as many as possible. These days I usually only have time to do the gathering and storing for later processing, but there have been instances when I was able to begin the cutting and polishing process in the same time and space.
That’s what happened with a song called “Hard to Bare”. I made the initial recording of “Hard to Bare” when I was staying at my college roommate’s parents house in Pennsylvania for a month one summer about six years ago. I was home alone one day and felt the pull to create and do some recording. I had the time, but my resources were lacking. I only had my MacBook with no recording gear except for the built-in microphone and Garage Band. Most of the time when you record, it is done in a space with some sound proofing that keeps background sounds from leaking into the recording. Since I didn’t have the proper equipment, but felt myself entering this zone, I improvised.
I placed a comforter over the laptop and myself like a blanket fort. This transported me back to building forts out in the woods with my dad as a kid, allowing me to freely create without judgment. It lead to hitting drumsticks against pillows and books for percussion and incorporating a bird call that I learned from my father as a background noise.
Entering this fugue state/beginner’s mind, though I am not always in control of the process, is the easy part. Since the first recording of “Hard to Bare” I’ve written at least 50 songs. The tension remains even as I get ready to release that song, while I work on turning my music into products to share with others. My intention with this blog is to share my experience as I work through this tension to try and create not only completed songs, but a whole career, centered around my art, that can sustain me.