So how’m I doing in my quest to re-invent my life, follow my evolving Blisses and create the life I really, really want?
In all the hustle and bustle, I forgot I was a musician.
This is what happens when you’ve got multiple Blisses.
Or at least it’s what happens to me. I learned years ago (thank god) that trying to do all of my Blisses full-steam-ahead all the time doesn’t work, so instead I allow them to cycle around at will.
It’s really the only way to stay sane, if you’re me. But the downside is that when one of my Blisses is simmering on the back burner, sometimes I forget that, oh, yeah, I’m actually really good at this thing and totally in love with it!
That’s what gigs are for: to remind me.
Take last night. I performed with my 3 partners in crime, Cathi Walkup, Leanne Weatherly and Jennifer Lee, in what I think was the 5th of our Women of Song (formerly Ladies of Jazz) concerts. This time at an amazing house concert venue in Oakland called Avonova.
The Women of Song concerts are done not-quite “in the round”, each artist taking turns to sing a few songs at a time — 3 songs in the first set and 2 more after the break (all original material, by the way – we’re all singer/songwriters). At the very end the four of us do closing number together – so far it’s always been Bye, Bye Blackbird – where we each get a chance to stretch out in an improv solo, finishing up with some group harmony.
It’s a lot of fun, and with the four of us (and our four individual mailing lists) we have a lot more draw than I’d have doing a show on my own. Although my mailing list is over 550 people at this point, you’d be surprised how hard it is to fill a room.
Plus, although we’re all really more influenced by jazz than rock-and-roll, these women ROCK. I feel incredibly honored to be included among such talented musicians and songwriters. We’re all very different from each other, but with complementary styles.
In other words, it’s a solid show.
The response from attendees is always great. I get new fans at each concert – people coming up to give me heartfelt thanks, which always touches me; people raving about my “comedy act” and telling me I should get into the comedy club circuit; and last night one guy, who’s a songwriter himself and moving to Nashville, actually told me that my not being in Nashville is a travesty.
This does not suck.
I’m all for developing independence from external validation, but the fact is, when people respond enthusiastically to your work, it makes a difference.
It validates that what you’re doing is important. It encourages you to persevere. It reinforces that yes, you are supposed to be doing this thing.
This is one reason why I feel it’s so important for creatives to share what they do with the world.
For many of us, the majority of the time we spend doing our art is in isolation. We may get into the flow, feel deeply connected to our creativity, to Spirit, to… something.
But human beings are social creatures, and without a connection to other people, something is lost.
This is exactly why I started my not-quite Daily Artfix newsletter. I knew intuitively that sharing my work, getting responses from other people, was somehow important.
I was right. Just the act of creating the newsletter and sending my work out into the ether — even without knowing for sure if anyone would look at it — affected my sense of myself as an artist. And though nothing is as powerful as an in-person connection (as at a gig!) the emails I get in response to my not-quite Daily Artfix dispatches energize me to keep doing it.
I’ve made my living from my art for years, and still this is important!
Every new creative thing you try is like a fragile child you’re sending off to school for the first time. No, it’s like sending your own soul off to school for the first time.
What will it be like? Will anyone like me? Will people pick on me? Will I be safe?
Yes, I make my living from my art, but I still have these fears. Besides, the art I make my living from, my ketubah art, is a totally different form, different style, different everything. Plus it’s frequently created to the specifications of my clients — I know they’re going to like it before it’s even done, because it’s exactly what they’ve directed me to create.
Now I’m finally expressing what I want to create. And feedback from people who resonate with it helps my scared inner artist child know that it’s safe to keep putting it out there.
And it is scary. I know it’s scary. It’s scary for me every single time.
But it’s also important.
Artists must not only do; they must also share.
Well, of course they don’t have to, but what a loss when they don’t. Kathryn Siranosian recently wrote about an astonishing and tragic case of talent going unshared over at 365 Days of Genius, called Don’t Be A Lost Linchpin.
The title says it all.
Now, this is obviously not in danger of happening in my life — I love the limelight way too much for that! But even so, there was some block keeping me from putting my art out there in a big way. And busting that block, getting a newsletter out and my new artwork up for show and sale on my website was a powerful act.
Whether you’re a musician, a visual artist, an actor, a comedian, a writer or any other kind of creative, sharing your art with the world establishes to you that yes, you are an artist.
So what’s stopping you?