Hey. I write music (part 2)

This site used to be for my creative writing, but I’ve since moved that to another location, but it’s probably going to be updated as sporadically as this one. Just like my SoundCloud page, and just like my music.

I remember reading, years ago, an interview with Raymond Carver in which he talked about his writing process. The interviewer asked Carver about the brief nature of most of his stories, and his reply was something along the lines of, “I’m busy, and I write when I can, so the stories are short.” That makes perfect sense to me. I have two young children, and with everyone learning and working from home (myself included) I don’t have oodles of free time.

But even if I did–and here’s where I’m sure I differ from Carver and other writers who had dedicated writing time–I wouldn’t spend that free time writing. I’d probably start a song. Note that I didn’t say, “I’d finish a song,” or “continue working on a song.” That rarely happens. I fire up my DAW (Reason Studios, which I’ve been using for nearly 13 years) and I’m faced with a blank project template. In the past, I’ve set Reason to open to my last project, but even if I end up listening to it, I open a blank project and start fresh.

The ideas are plentiful as ever (unlike with prose or poetry these days). Because I teach English online, I’m at my computer for a few hours in the morning, and that’s when I work on song ideas. I do it between teaching sessions, or if it’s a really easy lesson and the student is self-motivated enough to need only periodic correction and support (I teach English to Chinese students), I may fiddle with a song as the student reads. I might try out a few chord progressions or tweak a setting, all of which I can do without having to look at Reason too much. I can play the idea of a theme with my right hand, use the mouse with my left, and the student has no idea because I’m looking into my web cam and responding.

When my teaching time is over, I hastily name the project and shut every thing down. And if I return to the project, it’s to listen and say, “Huh, that’s pretty cool.” But that’s it. The idea is rarely, if ever, expanded. The same goes for all my creative projects lately.

To a large extent, I’ve always done this with creative projects, but our house fire last year intensified the tendency, and the lockdown has made it even worse. Every day, I force myself to accept where I am as an artist, and the truth is, I just create. Period. I don’t finish, promote, or market (ha! that’s always a disaster) or even edit things I’ve done.

For example, I wrote this track some weeks ago and then completely forgot about it. I like it well enough…could it have been better? Probably. Does it matter? Ultimately, no. So I uploaded it and maybe someone will listen.

I had other things to say, but I have to get ready to teach. While I teach, I’ll probably work on a song idea that will go nowhere. So it is.

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