We write songs, and we perform them, and sometimes the songs are about really personal stuff and make us vulnerable every time we share them. We drive to the next town, or we take a train, or we fly. We pour out so much of ourselves every time we appear in "public" that when we finally get home again, we sometimes have to just go and lie down for a week to recover from the constant outward pouring of self.
(This isn't a pity party, relax. Just an explanation.)
I don't know how much truth there is in the notion that musicians and artists suffer any more than other people; but because we draw upon lessons from our life's experiences to create, our struggles are simply more present.
When this resonates with people, I know it's because something I've experiences and written about overlaps in some way with someone else's experience. Occasionally, this has happened in ways I can see right away, while I sing; other times, someone will approach me after a show to tell me how a song affected them.
I am grateful for these moments, because they remind and reassure me that I somehow make a difference in the world with my music.
But there's a part of the trip that musicians seldome speak frankly about, and that.s the struggle to earn a living in a culture that values other jobs and professions far more highly than it values music and art. To be real about that struggle is to risk sounding ungrateful.
I am as grateful as can be. I was tapped to do this, called to do this. I tried to ignore that calling at various times in my life, until I realized I couldn't outrun it and gave up and gave in.
That's what a calling is like. I do this because I can't NOT do it.
However, I also struggle with having enough energy to earn my living this way, to scratch and to scrape because lets face it, there are easier ways to make money than to create music and art. Scratch below the famous One Percent and you'll find thousands of us who never get famous, who never earn enough to feel stable, who bury themselves to do what they do with no hope that it will ever come to anything resembling a typical "career". I'm one of those thousands.
I live with multiple health issues that make my calling challenging. The overlap of those health issues causes me to struggle with serious fatigue on a regular basis. I'll play a gig somewhere, come home and collapse for several days because I haven't got anything left to give. So I sleep a lot. And when I try to "be productive" -- whether by chasing down future gigs or writing new music -- I'll sometimes "bonk" -- hit a wall -- and have to stop again.
This is not being merely tired, it's being fatigued, a kind of tired that is like tired times a hundred or a thousand.
I write to share this with you because it's important for our fans and friends to remember that, even though we may seem like rock stars or something to you when we make music, the truth is we're as human as anyone else, and just as much in need of downtime and rest and renewal. Those of us who have the support of our communities at home are blessed. Those of us who don't struggle alone and hopefully find other musicians with whom to create networks of support. But in the end, we all need time to breathe, and rest and dream.
So if you contact your favorite unknown, unsigned, unrepresented local artist and they don't respond within mere hours, don't be offended. We WILL get back to you, because we really want to know what you think of our music and we really do want to hear with you and engage with you!
AND we're human beings who have families and need to empty the litter box and make dinner and take out the trash and get some sleep, just like you. So hang in there, thanks for your patience, and know that we are grateful that you've noticed us. We cherish every email and text and card and we love doing what we do for all of you.
And now, time for a little nap.