Compulsion, Obsession and Despair

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I am totally weary to the point of crying. My body aches, my eyes sting and I can’t swallow the lump in my throat. Life sucks and I hate it.

I should just sleep as much as I can, but I am compelled to get out of bed and try – in vain – to promote my music. Again.

Try this. That didn’t work, so try this instead. Try this again. Keep trying.

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Self-promotion is soul destroying. We are encouraged to “get ourselves out there and make it clear we’re here to do business” but, when we do, we’re made to feel like we are harassing our friends and family; we can’t win. We are told to ask for help by people like Amanda Palmer who have successfully crowdfunded their projects. We are told that if they can do it so can we. But, we find the cold truth that some people are simply charmed; they ask and get help, while the rest if us ask and receive nothing.

And here I am now, throwing more rose petals to the wind, ranting to the air in a blog post, feeling desperation and despair.

“I cannot sleep for all these dreams” – Marillion

I know now that I’m not alone in my woe.  I am acquainted with plenty other (excellent) artists in my sad, sinking boat. And, I also know that this situation is NOT an indicator of talent. The world misses out on some of the greatest artists of all time simply because some of those with the most massive talent weren’t blessed with the massive break they deserved.

I sit here in turmoil. Should I spend the energy uploading my stuff to this and that again, in hope that this time my efforts will be worth it? Or, do I take a deep breath and accept that nothing I ever do will work and go back to bed and, at the least, have sleep to show for it?

Gah!

I’m going to be a long time dead. Now is when I have bills to pay and children to feed. I have tried to comfort myself with knowledge that, by recording my music, I have left a legacy for after I’m gone. My kids can say, “Listen! My mum sounded like THIS”. My voice will still be able to be heard. And, on my gravestone they can write, “She tried. She failed. At last, she’s at rest.”

Because, I did try (and masochistically keep on trying); I did ask (and I keep asking) for help; I keep knocking, only to find success behind a locked and bolted door. Excluded. Discriminated against. “This isn’t for you!”

And, I want to not care anymore. I want to accept failure. I want to quit feeling this obsession to keep, sadistically, trying. But, the burning tears running down my face right now prove I’m not close to being in that gloriously apathetic place.

One more time, sitting here, I deliberate over uploading some new stuff to bbc introducing (maybe this time will be different) or just going to the toilet and heading back to bed. At this point, I don’t know which I’ll do. I’ll get back to you on it…or not.

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This Is EXACTLY How I Feel

“A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke.” – Vincent van Gogh

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This is exactly how I feel about my music. And, in general, I relate to this incredible artist very much. The anxiety. The bouts with mental illness. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all a part of the brilliantly artistically gifted: you can have the creativity and be able to produce works of marvellous beauty, but the pain, the torment, the feeling that you really don’t belong here, all go along with it. It is very, very sad. But, it is our existence. And, I suppose if you gave me the choice between being “happy” (whatever that is) and my ability to sing and make music, I would choose the latter. But, what I am writing specifically about in this post is this issue of obscurity rather than our shared mental health problems.

According to Wikipedia, during Vincent van Gogh’s life, his work was known only to a handful of people and appreciated by fewer still. Hmm, that certainly sounds all too familliar.

Of course, not all artists are doomed to live in this obscurity, only being appreciated and finding acclaim for their contributions posthumously. Not all of us are alike. There isn’t a great artistic brotherhood (just like there isn’t some great sisterhood of women, either…but, I digress – yes, again! – that’s a post for another time); we aren’t all cut out with cookie cutters. Some of us aren’t tortured as badly as others and some of us do get discovered (and appreciated) whether tortured greatly or not prior to leaving this ill-fitting world. I do wonder what it’s like to be in that category, but that has not been my lot.

Vincent van Gogh was 37 when he died. I am 38, nearly 39. I feel old. I feel passed it. And, my entire life – artistically speaking – has been this quote. When I saw it today, shared on another artist’s Facebook wall, it knocked the wind out of me. I felt like I had been struck. I physically hurt when I read it. Because, I know this experience, and it has been my experience for nearing four decades now.

And, so, this is simply my lament for myself (yes, another pity party for a pitiful nobody of a singer/songwriter), and it is my celebration of van Gogh – who was brilliant and sad and who painted the sky not on canvas only, but on the very fabric of our hearts. His work hangs, no longer belittled or thought of no worth, now admired, acclaimed, sung of, cherished and highly valued. I wonder what it would have been like if his paintings had been considered with such value when he was alive. One thing I can say – back to the mental health thing – it would not have changed his mental state, it would not have chased the demons away, but what it would have done is to provide validation to the living man and put bread on his table; it would have fed both spirit and body. 

How am I so certain of this? Because, that is what it would do for me.

Now, a last note must be made here. To the precious few who do support my music, I want to make sure you know how grateful I am for you. I would never want you to think that I’m ignoring you; I want you to know that you mean a great deal to me – you are a tiny, but beautiful, spark of validation in a black sky that would otherwise be solid darkness; I appreciate you very much. But I needed to write this post because of how this quote affected me. I needed to write it for me, and for him.

The Struggling Artist (Give Me A Chance)

The Struggling Artist (Give Me A Chance)

You get an eclectic mix in this blog, for sure. Because, I am an eclectic mix (and, those of you who follow my blog for pictures and/or witty quotes and/or thought-provoking messages, I ask you to forgive me for the shameless plugging; just wait a bit and I’m sure one or all of those things will make another appearance soon)… but, when it comes down to it, it all comes back to this here (and, so, I beg you to stay with me, please).

A couple of days ago, my husband decided to start a blog and begin posting some of his brilliant photography and artwork on WordPress because, he said, and I quote (hey, there’s your quote):

“There’s no point creating them if no one gets to see them.”

I feel that way about my music. And, in my struggle – and, in essence, my failure (I know, people dislike when I use that word, but get over it – call it what it is, dammit!) – to be heard, I have days when I just wonder why I continue to pay for a website that I really can’t afford if no one is discovering, enjoying and, yes, paying for my music. It is frustrating for the artist in me, and sometimes it’s downright so demoralising I cannot bear it. Today I stopped paying the $19.99 a month to ReverbNation for doing nothing for me (they’re supposed to promote me, distribute my music and gain me exposure…yeah). I still have my website (which I am loth to let go of at this time, but I wonder how long it will be… unless, oh, unless… sigh, it’s a dream, Autumn… no, Autumn, it’s not a dream, it’s a complete fantasyand yet, I still hope a fool’s hope). I know I’m not alone (not the only artist going through this). There is so much competition these days. It really isn’t anyone’s “fault” (or, if it is anyone’s, then it is everyone’s…); I am not placing blame and getting bitter (*twitch, twitch*), no, seriously and in complete honesty (having worked through those issues), I’m not trying to put a guilt trip on you (everyone) for not discovering my music and sharing it with the world (uh, yeah, more everyone).

So, this brings me to today and where I say with my husband, there’s no point in creating if we are not seen and heard. Ah, yes, notice I didn’t say, “if it isn’t seen and heard. For our art is the deepest expression of who WE ARE. To appreciate me is to appreciate my art; know me = know my music. And, so, I am giving people an opportunity to download one of my singles (Waterfall) and my album (Gloriously Autumnal) for FREE (that’s a whole album for free)! Now, when I say free, it is “name your price” – you can, if you choose, pay more than nothing for it (and, much appreciated if you do…it all goes to a good cause: paying my bills). Because, there they’ve been, just sitting on a virtual shelf, collecting virtual dust, and not being downloaded (and it breaks my heart and rips my soul to shreds…this is my very essence being ignored here). Why? Because people can’t be bothered and they are so spoiled for choice in the music world that my work gets completely lost in the mix. I’m asking for people to give it a chance. Like all music, it definitely won’t be EVERYONE’S cup of tea (I know and accept that). But, if you like it, you’ve discovered new music to speak to your heart. You have nothing to lose. And, we both have everything to gain. And, if you do like it, you may want to go ahead and purchase the single “Hope Breathing” (and, again, I would thank you muchly). So, over to you (everyone – and YOUI’m talking just to YOU – sitting there in front of your computer screen reading this, I see you); you can make a struggling artist’s day (week, month, year, really).  So, clickety-click that link at the top (which will take you to my Bandcamp site) and download some tunes. Thank you!

I now return you to your regularly scheduled blogdom (of pictures, witty and poetic nonsense, and everything from thought-provoking rants to inspirational devotions), already in progress.