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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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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Limitations Vs. Boundaries

When existing with a disability or chronic pain and illness, one is constantly aware of one’s limitations. The word ‘limitation’ has a negative connotation. I, suppose, I am perceived as a pretty negative person.

Cynical, perhaps. In a very real way, broken and defeated. But, I’m not what I’d call negative but, rather, realistic. Some might call that delusion. Again, I see it differently. And, I’m beginning to see the hindrances I suffer as boundaries rather than limitations. There. A positive spin.

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The Best Friend Boundary
Other people have “besties”, “BFFs”, whatever. I can’t seem to get and keep one of these. It can bother me. Make me feel like I’m not good or lovable enough to have one of these. I know, intellectually, it’s a problem with life and other people (but, mostly just life being the bastard it is), and not because I’m somehow unworthy to have a best friend. It’s just a boundary, with a high wall that can’t be scaled. No answers. No solutions. It is what it is.

The Success Boundary
If success was measured by producing good music, writing brilliant songs and having a beautiful voice, then I’d be extremely successful. But, we all know, success, when it comes to any talent and art, is measured by fame and money. Here lies the boundary I cannot cross. I take comfort in the beauty and virtue of the music I make. It doesn’t pay my bills, however.

There are other boundaries, of course. The Physical Health Boundary, the Mental Health Boundary. These edges I cannot cross. These confinements I must work within.

I do the best I can. And, any small victory is a huge triumph.

One day, life will stop its twisted game with me…death may be longer in coming than I want it to be, but it will have the last word. Until then…like adventurers before me, I explore the boundaries.

By Any Other Name (a big decision to make)

wpid-20140719_163024_20140720144052585.jpgI remember a long time ago when a publishing company wanted my mother (author and artist Ginilou DeMarco) to write her books under a non de plume (for the slightly less aware, an alias; for the just plain stupid, another name), she didn’t want to do it, and I couldn’t blame her. Part of having talent and sharing it is getting the credit for it as yourself. But, more and more I’m thinking that maybe, just perhaps, that is our ego talking: our bodies have these names, but our souls do not. And, so… I am considering releasing my next album under another name.

I love my name.  I always have.  My name is cool. It used to be very unique.  It isn’t anymore.  Unique, that is.  It is still cool (but, of course, I am biased).  I was proud of my name even back when people never got it right because only a very small handful of people had named their child “Autumn” (much less “Autumn Dawn” – I believe, I was the first…I may be wrong.  But, of all the Autumn Dawns I have subsuequently found out about, I am the oldest…making me the original since 1974) and I got called every other name starting with A instead of my name. Or, worse (and this still annoys me to this day, because I still get it occassionally), they would call me only by my middle name.  Ugh.  My name is Autumn Dawn.  Or just Autumn. It is NEVER “Dawn”!!!

In learning soul consciousness versus body consciousness (the internal and eternal as opposed to the external and temporary), I know that while this is my present name, it is not, however, who I am. This body’s name is Autumn Dawn, but I am a soul. And, the thing is, my music has never been successful under this name.

Now, the talent maybe associated with my body, I know.  But, creativity is a spiritual quality, an aspect of the eternal identity, the being or soul. And, specifically, music is definitely a spiritual thing.

So, these are my reasons for considering a release in another name.  Authors do it all the time (when they want to), and look at Prince, or the artist formally known as, Symbol, or whatever he is calling himself and releasing his music under these days.  And, many musical artists chose from the first to go by another name.  Of course, I know, Prince may not be a perfect example here, because he was successful as Prince…  but, yeah… anywho. Hopefully, you see my point.

While I am proud of my lovely name and proud of my gift (music), it isn’t much of a gift if it isn’t getting the exposure and getting out there.  A gift should be giving.  I have tried.  I have failed and failed and failed.  Well, “Autumn Dawn” has failed and failed anyway.

Thus, this serious consideration to release an album under another name (not sure what just yet).  I would really very much like to hear what other people (you, my readers) think about this.  Talk to me.  I’d appreciate some feedback here.  It’s a big decision.

 

 

 

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.