It seems like I’m asking that rhetorical question on an almost daily basis. I ask it when hearing about the latest victimization fad or while watching society becoming more and more brittle. I ask it as we combat racism, intolerance, and fascism by using racism, intolerance, and fascism without a hint of irony or self-awareness. I ask it every time I come across the general bitching by every tribe about how bad things are in what is, by almost any objective measurement, the best time in human history to be alive.
So given that opening paragraph, you might be surprised that I’m really doing my best to not dwell on the negative. Since last February, I’ve become increasingly stoic, maybe even borderline nihilistic, about both the state and path of humanity. I have a firmer grasp, both intellectually and emotionally, on the fact that we are all simply tiny ripples in a vast ocean; that even the largest splashes will dissipate into nothing but refractions and footnotes. I worry for future generations, but they will make their way as I made mine. Or maybe they won’t. But by that point it won’t be my problem or anything I could have changed.
I’ve toyed with what my constraints for this year will be and, while I have a few that might be implemented here or there, I think I’m mostly going to go where the music takes me and see what happens. I’m a bit more firmly in, “I’m writing for me and nobody else” territory. If people find something to like in whatever I create, then that’s a bonus.
This round of Song-A-Day has me in an interesting mental state. It’s still one of the high points of my year, but this year feels a bit more like I’m just getting on the treadmill to do my daily workout. I know I need to do it, that I will be better for it, but it’s not something I’m looking forward to: a self-imposed obligation. Like my treadmill, though, as I get into each day’s musical workout, I know I’ll enjoy the exercise and struggle, deriving a sense of accomplishment each time I click “Submit” and release another work into the wild.
Something I’ve realized in the past year is that I repeat myself. A lot. I tell the same stories and jokes. I worry about the same things. I make the same mistakes over and over. As a former coworker said to another when she thought I couldn’t hear, I do tend to “witter on.” That’s not always bad – lots of people have had successful careers doing little more than wittering on – but I often have J.R.R. Tolkien whispering in my ear: “I warn you, if you bore me, I shall take my revenge.”
As I’ve read over past Song-A-Day entries, I routinely lamented the same insecurities and hurdles. yet created a collection of works that I am proud of – even the fundamentally flawed ones. They all represent a moment in time and whether it was a good moment or a bad one, that particular moment led to this one and I learned something from it. Or I didn’t learn from it, which becomes its own lesson.
I warn you, if you bore me, I shall take my revenge.J.R.R. Tolkien
I was already aware of the repetition and wittering – it’s been mentioned to me by others, normally in a politely joking way to spare my feelings. But awareness is not the same as understanding and, in vulgar terms, I finally caught a whiff of my need for a shower.
As a result, I may have fewer entries this year that diverge off into woolgathering or contextual storytelling from a long-winded memory. I’m not positive about that – there are some things that I repeat primarily because I think it’s unlikely anyone will read all of this. If the contextual anecdote is relevant to the moment at hand, I shouldn’t assume that anyone already read that story. But I’m trying to limit that as much as possible.
I have a new plugin for the site that allows me to create footnotes, and that’s probably where a lot of the tangential quips and lame jokes will end up. Additionally, there are only so many ways you can describe creating a deep ambient track. There’s normally no narrative; these aren’t tone poems. Sometimes they’re just experiments in craft, other times they’re a snapshot of an emotional state. Often, though, they’re simply explorations in sound and, unlike a picture, not worth a full 1,000 words.
At the same time, I’ve received feedback from other Song-A-Day participants that my blogging is helpful to them, even the mundane or disconnected bits, because it helps them to realize that they’re not the only one struggling with [$PROBLEM]. And that shouldn’t surprise me since I’ve similarly benefited when reading accounts by others, especially people who have become successful at what they do. For at least a few minutes, my imposter syndrome and insecurities don’t seem so overwhelming.
So there may be constraints to my writing this month. Or not. The articles may be more concise. Or not. There may be less repetition.
Once more into the breach…