(Allow Me To Provide You With) A Visual 

An artistic vlog post from moi.

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For Better & Worse (NOT About Marriage)

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This is one of my favourite photos from the recent photoshoot that was done for the new band I’m in with fellow singer/songwriter Steve Cartwright, called ‘The Way Out‘. We travelled out to Charnwood Water and, there, this dreamy, romantic visual of me serenading the ducks was captured.  It’s like something out of faery…and, there I am in the midst of it… The Songmistress, after all. This image fills me with a sense of otherwordliness… and, of melancholy…of longing.

Things are better in so many ways.  I’m making more music now than ever, and it’s being recognised and appreciated, at least to a degree.  No, it’s not nearly as much as I’d like it to be or even NEED it to be in order to contribute to the paying of my own bills and support of my family.  But, whilst still firmly in the Land of Obscurity, there is now a map for people to follow and find me.

Things are worse, however.  I am exhausted.  I wonder how long I can push myself to perform like this, when my body and mind are as weak as they are.  People who would have assumed that I would ‘perk up’ if I was given a few more gigs, were sadly mistaken. My health issues haven’t magically gone away with this limited success.  If anything, I have to fight all the harder…and, sometimes, I am failing miserably in trying to cope.

I’m scared.  Scared that this little taste is all I’ll get before life kicks me in the teeth again with my deteriorating health and leave me unable to even do this little bit of what I’m doing to get my music out there.

To be honest, this would be my ideal:  once every couple of months, have a large, paid gig where I get to perform all my own songs to an appreciative, adoring audience.  The rest of the time being able to rest, write a bit, while having enough fans to support this down time by buying my albums and singles. Go to the ocassional folk club and acoustic open mic, just to stay sharp for those bigger gigs and to socialise with other musician friends.

Sounds lovely.  WAKE UP!  It’s a dream, and the reality is I’m old and sick and tired, and in order to get seen (and, subsequently, heard) I have to go hither and yon and play covers in pubs late at night in order to get paid, because I just can’t seem to reach that fanbase to sell my music.  I know they’re out there…but it’s reaching them. I can’t seem to reach them online.

Oh, what am I sitting here writing this for? I should be in bed resting..or rehearsing.  I feel the weight of futility here.  I’m talking to a wall again.  Oh, to travel to that place, that place of faery, where I AM The Songmistress, and to never more return from there.

 

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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A Thriving Imagination

I recently rediscovered Instagram and, in doing so, the world of “micro videos”. It’s keeping me creatively occupied during this particularly trying time, offering bursts of talent, like shops giving out tiny samples of perfume or food.

It’s the creative flavour of the month, a needful outlet; a challenge, to encapsulate, in a mere 15 seconds, the essence of a song and/or performance.  A calling card, of sorts. Maybe these bite-sized music videos will catch the right ear, or maybe they’ll collect virtual dust like so much of what I do…but, for now, they’re a fun way for me to express.

I say challenge up there, like it’s a good thing. In artistic and (specifically) musical endeavours, this is so. In general, however, I don’t like a challenge. Life overwhelms me at the best of times; I’m just not good at it…this living thing. I struggle. But, art…

I may not be able to handle the struggle, but what I can do is make things of beauty and value in answer to the struggle…not an answer for, but in answer to.

Life is cruel. I hurt. I cry. And then, I create.

Maybe, just maybe, I win after all.

Creative Recycling

Years ago I wrote a poem that I’ve ended up using quite a lot on social website profiles in the ‘about you’ section. It was sufficiently mysterious while also being perfectly autobiographical, and it was easier to copy and paste the poem rather than to think of something else witty and interesting to say about myself. How better to represent myself as the arty ol’ farty I am than to describe myself with a poem? Even so, it’s been a long time since I revisited that poem or even considered it in passing.

Poets aren’t always songwriters and songwriters aren’t always poets. Occasionally, however, the two do meet together in the one, and you end up with Leonard Cohen…and me. Sometimes there are too many words and not enough music, while other times the words are not enough and there must be music to carry the few that are there. Ah, but now, I really do wax poetic. 😉

But, please, indulge me.

And, where do the lost and forgotten poems go? Is there a graveyard for the written and discarded rhyme? You may not remember those scribbled lines. But, rest assured, they remember you. You may forget the words, but the words never forget. And, if you’re quiet enough, you can hear their whispered echoes, reverberating beyond time.

And, this is what it is to be a poet.

And, this is what it is to be a poet who is also a songwriter…and, what it is to be me.