Friday, January 16, 2015

I was thinking about some of my goals from when I started this whole process and it made feel that my progress has been craaaaawling by. I've accomplished a few of my objectives, but my most important ones are yet a long way off, though they shouldn't be as far off as I am making them.

I've always had a bit of a problem with being a jack-of-all-trades type of person. I know a good deal about a fair number of subjects and have experiences with many of them. I can draw decently. I can paint okay. I can play guitar alright. I can have basic conversations in a couple of other languages. I'm not a terrible rock climber, I'm somewhat talented at Aikido, etc. I find all of that satisfying in some ways, yet at the same time, I would love to be simply incredible at something. I'm interested in so many topics that I want to dip my toes into all of them, often forgetting that my life - as far as I'm aware - is finite and I probably need to have more focus.

I was discussing a favorite author of mine today and how in his podcasts about writing he constantly recites the importance of a motto that you may have heard, "BICHOK", which simply means "butts in chair, hands on keyboard." Likely this is obvious to you, but it's the idea that, as a writer or someone who wants to be a writer, you need to always be writing. You don't talk about it or don't think about or say "maybe when I'm in the mood." You just do it. He always stresses how it's almost more important to write when you don't feel like it than it is when you are inspired to do so.
This concept sums up some of my problems/limitations. No one who has had great success in any of my areas of interest have done it by doing it my way. "My way" being to extensively read and discuss a topic but rarely getting around to actually putting the time into practicing a given craft. If I spent the amount of time at practice as I do researching "how to", I would probably have mastered several skills and talents by now.

We can take one of my goals stated on my first entry as a prime example. I've always wanted to write a song, and writing a complete one was an aspiration when I started getting back into music. That was a year and a half ago. Guess how many songs I've written? Actually, guess the percent of a single song I've written? Either question you answer, the number is the same. Zero, if that wasn't obvious.

This is even after I was challenged by my vocal instructor to write one "no matter how terrible it ends up." Which is honestly a great way to start, probably. I always wonder, "how does someone even start writing a song" and the key probably is very simply, "they just do it" and there's no real magic to it. Any musician I admire surely started out writing terrible songs, despite their talent level, and they continued writing terrible songs until they started writing less terrible songs, and then they started writing amazing songs. And likely the secret to all those amazing ones is that they started out as terrible songs that slowly became amazing songs as they tweaked them, not unlike how a painting starts as a bunch of colored shapes and blobs and then suddenly you have a beautiful landscape or portrait.

I'm sure part of my problem is that I'm scared of making something terrible and then becoming disheartened. The obvious issue here is that if I never try, I'll never even get that far. Besides, I've made plenty of terrible things in my day, what's one more thing? I can't start improving on it if I never make it happen in the first place.

Dave Grohl has a great quote that sort of relates (though it's overall in reference to how ridiculous music reality shows are):

“Musicians should go to a yard sale and buy an old drum set and get in their garage and just suck. And get their friends to come in and they’ll suck, too. And then they’ll start playing and they’ll have the best time they’ve ever had in their lives and then all of a sudden they’ll become Nirvana. Because that’s exactly what happened with Nirvana. Just a bunch of guys that had some shitty old instruments and they got together and started playing some noisy-ass shit, and they became the biggest band in the world. That can happen again! You don’t need a f'ing computer or the internet or The Voice or American Idol.”

Maybe this will be the year I can really display how much I suck and maybe by the end I'll suck a little less.