The One Thing

The one thing that I like about myself, the one and only thing I am good at, is the one thing I can’t get people to take notice of.

The discouragement is immense.

And, it makes a person question themselves. Terribly.

Yesterday, my youngest daughter (who also suffers from BPD and struggles with controlling her emotions and knowing her worth) came home from school in floods of tears. She was sobbing uncontrollably because she hadn’t received an award for anything when every one else in her group of best friends had received recognition for something. Many of the things the others had got an award for were things I have been told by her teachers are things in which she, herself, highly excels. She came out of the school yard, wailing, ‘I’m rubbish. There’s nothing I’m good at doing.’

I know it isn’t true. But, when everyone else in your circle has been publicly  recognised and you haven’t, one begins to doubt themselves, no matter how many times one has been told how great they are at something.

I took her home and showed her BBC Introducing, where I have submitted many of my best tracks. All of which they have refused to play, while other musicians with equal – or even less – talent get featured by them. I asked my daughter if she thought I was rubbish at singing and writing songs. She responded, ‘No! Of course not, Mummy.’ I pointed out that, by her logic, I must be rubbish. I hadn’t been played on the radio while these others had.

I made my point which ended up with her saying, ‘BBC Introducing is stupid!’

Just because others get the recognition you don’t doesn’t mean you’re not just as deserving, and it doesn’t mean that you aren’t just as good as the others (or, better). Life – and school and bloody BBC fucking Introducing – just isn’t fair. And, it sucks. But it doesn’t mean we’re rubbish.

But, it’s one thing to preach this to someone else and quite another to believe it yourself.

I’m struggling. So, thank you, Life, for once again being a bastard. Thank you, school, for overlooking my daughter’s achievements. Thank you, BBC Introducing, for not actually championing talented and unique independent musicians like you say you do. Thank you, all, for making people feel worse about themselves. You’re doing a great job!

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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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Managing Expectations

Fact: I am a nearly 41 year old woman with serious health issues. One could say my prime left a long time ago.

Another fact: while perhaps somewhat dimished by time, age and illness, I still have a voice worth hearing.

Contrary to some popular belief, I am confident of my ability to sing.  It’s never been in question. I greatly enjoy making music, and it is a wonderful feeling when others appreciate both the gift and hard work that has gone into a performance. The fact that I have had limited success has little to do with talent, and much more to do with wrong place, wrong time and various life situations that kept me from the right connections and being discovered on a bigger scale.

When I was young, I had a dream.  And, I believed that despite all odds and crappiness of life, I would be discovered and have a big musical career.

Decades passed.  Life continued to bombard. But, I also continued developing my craft, and I never stopped making music. Mostly because it is the fabric of who I am. As long as I am forced to live in this world, I will sing and play. And, I will always keep doing it professionally when and where I can. Since moving to the UK, I have been well received, overall. And, I’ve been given opportunities to be heard.  And, in almost every case, as I say, I’ve been very well received and the music has been appreciated.

I’ve done what I could to get the music out there.  Recording a couple of albums for download, and submitting my stuff to places like BBC Introducing.

I was heard by someone from BBC Radio when I played at a meditation centre in Leicester, and he gave me his personal e-mail to send him my stuff, telling me they champion local artists.  I sent him my stuff. Never heard back. Just like I never heard back from the BBC Introducing folks.

This is all to say, I am under no illusions. First, I am under no illusions that I am talented. Bloody well gifted, even. But, when I go on about that too much, I sound conceited.  If, on the other hand. I try to manage expectations about being heard by scouts from The Voice UK and urged to audition for the show, people begin to think I doubt myself. Believe me, I do not. I’m simply being realistic.

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The card I was handed from The Voice scouts.

Since announcing that I had been heard at the Loughborough Acoustic Club by said scouts, and that they told me I have a great voice and they would love me to audition for the show, I have been getting a steady stream of “Oh, I can’t wait to see you on the tele, Autumn; you’ll be great; we’ll vote for you!” comments.

I feel the love, people. And, genuinely, from the depths of my broken heart and contralto pipes, thank you! The support is lovely. Awesome. It makes me feel all warm and shiney. Let’s be clear: I really appreciate it. And, if by some miracle, I make it to the televised voting bit, I’ll hold you all to it.  But, let’s not count our chickens.

There was a time when I would have allowed my hopes to soar. I have learned never to do this again. Not after all these years. Not after all the attempts to “make it”.  Not after the disappointment ravaged my weary soul and left permanent marks I feel every waking moment of every single day.

I’m managing my own expectations, as well as other people’s. It’s all about perspective. Here’s what it is: I sang well (after all, I am good). I was heard and appreciated by a couple of official representitives from The Voice.  I was asked to apply to audition for the 5th series of the show. After giving it some thought (my first being, “this is like 20 years too late for me”), I’ve decided auditioning can’t hurt. Getting a day out in Birmingham and singing to some new people…well, that’s all good.  But, that’s where I expect it will end, as far as the show goes.  Other things may come out of it, or not.  But, I am not even in the slightest going to allow my mind to go to that place where I see myself on that show.  Because, if I do that, and nothing comes of it, it would be another devastating blow to an already destroyed soul.  No, I cannot afford to even entertain the notion.

It’s a day out in Birmingham. I get to sing to new people. And, it’s all good.

Compulsions

While success continues to elude me, I continue on because:

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It’s sort of like breathing. I’m a wreck at life. I don’t like it (life, that is). It annoys me (and that’s on a good day – the rest of the time I detest it). And, yet, I keep breathing… it’s that thing I do. But, unlike life, I am good at making music. Talent, I have. But, talent means so little in this business. I do this when there is no real reason to other than the compulsion to do it. If I could stop myself breathing, oh I would.  One day I may figure out the way to do that. Until then, apparently, I’m going to continue making music.

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At the moment, I’m getting in touch with the tribal; I’ve gone native. It feels right. It feels now. It feels ancient and now. Sometimes, I picture myself sitting against a tree in Queen’s Park or somewhere, with my hat off on the ground (to collect any stray change a kind passerby might give), playing my wooden flutes to the wind. I doubt that I will actually take up busking any time soon, but  that’s the visual in my imagination right now as I compose pieces layered with driving rhythym, accented by the haunting sound of my “second voice“.

I’m not releasing any more music (not putting out any more to sell, that is). What’s out there is out there (on bandcamp, cd baby, amazon and i-tunes). It is failing to fly off the virtual shelves. I will continue to share some of my new stuff online (and if and when gigging comes back into the picture), but it isn’t worth the amount of time (blood, sweat and literal tears) and money (I don’t get my money back, let alone make any on what I put out there) that it takes to produce and distribute if people aren’t going to buy it. It’s good stuff, but there’s too much competition and far too much apathy. I’m trying not to be bitter. Did I mention, life sucks?

I am always grateful for those who do enjoy my stuff. So, as I say, the stuff will still be there, but no new albums or singles.

I spent time this morning on another stab at an exercise in futility: uploading yet another song, one of my best (or so I’m told) to BBC Introducing. I’ll wait to hear that it’s been listened to…and then remain hopeful for a few days until I realise that, just like all the other times, they don’t want me.

Screw it. I’m breathing. And thus…I can’t escape it. I’m driven to do it, to make music whether anyone else is interested in what I have to offer. It’s beautiful. It just is. It allows me occupy the present moment and almost, nearly (as close as I get except maybe during orgasm), to enjoy it (the present, the moment, that is).

It used to be all about my voice. I finally realised, it’s bigger. I’m not just a vocalist. I’m a musician. I make music. I’m not a failure at making music. I successfully do the making thereof. I’m a failure at getting discovered/heard/famous. I’m a failure at making my passion and what I am good at pay my bills and contribute to the financial needs of myself and family. But, making music? At making clever, unique, versatile and pretty damn awesome music? At that… I’m a colossal success.

Perhaps, after I’m dead, my music will be discovered. Perhaps it never will and it will die with me. But, whatever the case, I’m making it because I don’t sing the song, it sings me. I don’t play the music, it plays me. And in it… in it is something pure and beautiful, something untainted, something that – for a moment – can make me feel like fucked-up-me is contributing something beautiful to this world…for a moment. And, I must do it. Like breathing, it’s a compulsion.

 

This is the piece that I composed as a thank you to the dear friend who sent me the gift of a second voice – my Native American wooden flutes. I have this set to play automatically so that, if you have the volume up on whatever circuity device you are reading this on, you can listen while you read. If you like what you hear, why not check out my other stuff? Thank you for reading and listening.