There are so many elements of my time away that have been exactly what I needed. This weekend's Songwriter's Retreat at the Grünewald Guild was one of them.
I scavenged my last $100, birthday money from family, to pay for my portion of the Workshop fee. (Artists in Residence get to take workshops for half-price.) I questioned whether I should join the workshop because I was already writing songs, but I am SO glad I got to join in.
I may not have learned the 'secret' to songwriting, but I fell in love with music again. No, seriously.
As a group, the 13 of us songwriters got to discuss the purposes and pursuit of songs and connect through covers of the likes of Pete Seger and Bob Dylan and more. These thirteen folks were the sweetest and kindest folks and NONE of them were there to 'make it' in the "industry of music" nor to compare their skills with the others in the group.
Instead, we were all in agreement - it was about the craft, the song, the art of sharing story through music.
You have no idea how badly I needed to be in that environment...
A Jaded Highway to Burnout
I've been driving fast down a highway to a jaded burn-out. My craft and my art has felt like a dried up raisin. The pursuit of paying my bills through self-employment via teaching cello lessons, recording sessions, gigs around town, etc., is great and all. I'm very proud of all that.
But sustaining it all sucks my creativity dry. & I don't have anything left for art at the end of the day.
And I know where that kind of lifestyle leads - a single, bitter, jaded, bitchy woman and a terrible cello teacher and musician.
THAT is the reason I found myself applying for Artist Residencies last summer. I had this inkling that something needed to shift and that something was gonna take a serious amount of protecting and comforting. I knew I needed to make sure "my artist" didn't get thrown on the altar to the gods of success.
I am eternally grateful to whoever is in charge 'out there' for placing me in such a nurturing location, as the Grünewald Guild. I am literally protected by mountains. MOUNTAINS!!! and find myself in the midst of such wonderful folks. They aren't asking me, as an artist, to do or be anyone else other than who I am and want to be.
Jan Krist and her musical biography...
Jan, was our workshop's facilitator and instructor. Phenomenal lady. She's done it all. and knows all the nooks and crannies of being a musician and most importantly, writing really good songs.
Saturday night, we moved the couches into a huge arc and she played for us her musical biography. Starting with tidbits of songs she first loved and then just continued on, playing one really fantastic song after another - prefacing each with a moment in her own life that related to each song. She could've played all night long and I wouldn't've cared. In fact, that's a great idea. ;-)
She gathered all the things I love about songs, tied them up in brown paper packaging tied up with string, sealed them with a kiss and then curtsied after I held them against my chest. Damn. I'm done for.
I am done for...
I am totally and completely done for.
I'm reminded over and over and over and over that I am an artist. I am first and foremost, an artist. I have to make art. If I don't make art, I'm screwed. If I don't make art, I'm actually doing the world a disservice by sucking it dry.
And if there's one thing I see everyday, it's that the world does not need any more problems - we need solutions, healing, instruction, and connection.