Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Redefining, Reinventing, and Reframing—Or, A Temporary Case of ADD

Note: From the git-go, I probably need to say this: this title doesn’t indicate in any way a flippant attitude toward ADD. Yes, we do call Gilbert our “cat with ADD;" but my husband has it, and we’re coping with it with varying degrees of success, and we realize it's serious. So I have a right to make a wisecrack about it if I like, and there’s no intention of getting anybody's feathers in a twist. Capisce? Capisce. That being said, I do feel somewhat like a temporary case of ADD has taken over my brain. I’m feeling pulled in multiple directions, not necessarily in a bad way, but just in a way that’s making it very, very hard to focus on one thing at a time and Actually Get Started on something, or Actually Make Progress. Why? Day gig stuff, lots of it. Things are going on. I'm applying for a different position at the day gig, I've got some additional responsibilities laid on me...it's enough to make your head spin. I did write a bit about it earlier, but have elected to set it aside here for the moment. After all, I promised to chatter a bit about some things that have become clear around the time of the Great Writer Retreat/Break Time that we just experienced, and immediately afterward. So here’s what’s surfacing; see if any of these thoughts provoke a little serious thought of your own about the writing universe and your place in it. 1. I write “woo-woo” extremely well. I’ve been told it more than once. So that’s what I aim to write. The other details will come as I find some good creepy Gothic sorts of stories to tell. Give me a moody, misty town, give me a tortured hero, give me several juicy secrets and a scandal in the past, a little supernatural stuff if the mood hits, and some very real and present danger…and I’ll be able to run with it. I hope. (!) 2. Dearly and muchly as I love romantic comedy, chick lit, traditional romance, a touch of historical, Regency, and inspirational material, I don’t believe that’s where my primary talents lie. It bites, because I’ve spent so much of my life wanting to do nothing more than write a whole bunch of “those little paperback romances.” But after over fifteen years of trying to break into that niche, I’m discovering the niche is fast sinking into territory I never intended to go into. So maybe it’s just as well I’ve never “made it” there. 3. Most important of all, however, I have to realize something. Much as a New Age guru (or even a really smart Christian) will tell you that we’re spiritual beings having a physical experience—rather than the other way around—I have to face up to a fact that I forgot: namely, that I’m not a writer who happens to sing, but a singer who writes. That may not seem like a big difference. But it is. Trust me, it is. You see, I’ve been spending the last twenty years or so of my life being a Failed Musician Who’d Rather Write Anyway. And for awhile, that’s worked pretty well—amazingly so, when you consider the first word of that self-defining label. Failed. Why would anyone want to label herself that? Don’t know. Don’t even exactly know how it happened. Just know after several dozen auditions for things I didn’t get, several singing gigs I thought were mine but which weren’t, and several years of singing catch as catch can church stuff and church choir, and getting caught up with raising a family and keeping wolves from the door…I laid aside the dream of being a musician in light of having tried, and failed. Now, I could call myself a “talented amateur,” if you like. Only I’ve always despised that term. Because, you see, if you’re really that talented…you shouldn’t be an amateur. Someone should be paying you for that level of work. You should be able to go pro. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve always written, all the way through music school. Music school, in effect, fed my writing. But in my heart, as the years went by, I came to “know” that one was…lesser than the other. Less important. Less “mine.” Something I deserved “less.” Only what I “knew”—what I decided was the mature grownup reality of the way things were—was wrong. But I came to this realization only now, after a long road through several things that aren’t even about writing…but which impacted me anyway. Those, I’ll talk about next time. But just know this. Know that sometimes what you see yourself as…isn’t what you are at the core. And sometimes you lock yourself up in a prison with that distorted vision. And sometimes it takes a long, long time to break back out. More later, when I can elaborate on how I finally seem to have laid my hands on the key again…. Thoughts? Janny

1 comment:

Deb said...

Whoa. A lot to digest, here.

It seems this post tells of your attempts to put labels on what you're doing, rather than going out and doing it. I know, I know--our temperaments are not wired together the same way, so of course I don't really "get" it.

Truth is, I don't. You're not a failed anything. You're a singer because you sing. Okay, so you're not a pro--that's not a certainty for anyone no matter how talented they are. You're a writer because you write. I'll never stop calling myself a writer even if/when my books stop selling, start selling bigger, stay safe in the desk drawer. Capisce?

"Failed" is not a word Christ uses when He looks at us. "In progress" maybe, or "precious child" or "work of My hands." That, yeah. Not "failed."