"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Learning from all art forms

I just returned from a weekend of showing my horse and attending a jazz festival. The horse show will be discussed on Snoopy's blog as soon as I can, but I wanted to talk about what I learned at the jazz festival here.

Dale and I got to Mira Costa College in Oceanside just in time to see Marcus perform with Jazz N Tonic, then Marcus' old high school group, Valencia High School. We wanted to hear the other CSULB jazz group, Pacific Standard Time, who were performing after the clinic held by the evening's performers, Sixth Wave.

At the clinic, the six singers discussed where they got their early training and how they make their living today. The students had a lot of questions, from how they continue to train their "instruments" (their voices), to how they broke into session work.

As music and writing are both creative careers, I heard a couple of things from these professionals that really resonated with me.

1. If you don't have a fire in your belly to pursue your art as a career, don't do it. Music is a long hard road. Unless you are one of the VERY select who become a superstar, you will spend your life getting gigs where you can.

Writing is exactly the same. Unless you break out with that book or book series (think Harry Potter), you are going to scrap for every sale and dollar. If you're unwilling to get out and work the audience because you love writing so much, don't do it. Write for yourself and be content.

2. Your art is not all about you. One of the singers spoke about the detachment of her ego from the work. She doesn't sing so people will love her. She sings because she loves to do the work, then give the results as a gift to the audience.

As a professional writer, you develop your tools, you use them to craft stories, and you give those stories to the public (well, for a price). That they like what you've done or don't like what you've done is no reflection on you.

It was amazing to go to a music festival and be inspired about writing. And of course, it was great to hear my son sing. Here's a sample of what we heard (Marcus is the second solo):

1 comment:

Tameri Etherton said...

Ah, that Marcus has such a smooth voice! I really could listen to him all day.

Interesting what the singers had to say. It does come down to passion. If you don't have that fire in your belly, you're going to burn out. It won't be fun anymore or you'll get tired of being poor. I think too, if you don't have the passion for it, then the readers can sense that.

Sure I want to sell a bunch of books, but mostly, I want to get my words out there to entertain people.

I'm going to go listen to Marcus again.

Proud Member of ALA!

I support fair and equitable library access to ebooks and so should you.