Came down with something early last week and it derailed my podcasting plans. Feeling a bit better, so here’s this week’s show a few days late!
On this one I’m talking to myself about being accommodating to my awesome friends/collaborators, the perils of shifting expectations, and once again, project no budget setbacks. You know, the stuff working class creatives have to deal with.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to get out of my head. New songs help. As we all know, the year has wreaked havoc and has us punching ourselves in the head from the inside as we wrassle with fight or flight. Anyone? Maybe it’s just me.
Fortunately, I’ve been having great creative sessions with one of my dear friends. I’m sharing project details on The Writing Record, so check it out! So much creative progress has occurred in recent weeks, that our skype calls have become a temporary escape from the anxiety of our new normal. Our world on fire. A pandemic of real cost and consequence for half the country, and a farce labeled as such by the other half. Our orange president speaking in tongues and soaking with incoherence those of us in the front row. Uncertain times, for sure. Fatalistic? Most definitely. That’s my primary setting.
Nonetheless, world aflame and all that shit, I am now left with a clarity of joy and purpose I had forgotten about. I remembered what it was like to get out of my head. I’ve been working with my friend Dane on a mini-musical that we hope to finish by the end of September. One song a week. Four songs. Incidental music and a small helping of dialogue to strengthen the through-line, and then voila! We will have something new. But already, collaborating has led me to this obvious revelation: Bootstrapping your way through life is fun and all, but have you ever bootstrapped your way through life without boots? Boots aren’t for me. My feet sweat at the thought of helping myself, I suppose. What’s better than finding hope and drive and dignity at the bottom of your worn boots? Helping your friends find their boots, and reaching out in case they need a hand with their straps.
Is that so goddamn hard to ask?
I ask this of myself first. Because why should I chastise anyone without confronting my own bootstrapped feet? (not to mention, I have boots for days at home)…
I just don’t want to keep thinking about bootstraps and giving my neighbors the finger when I can lend the whole hand. Few working class people are having a grand old time right now. These feelings of panic and distress are only escalated by our collective scarcity mindset. Speaking for myself, I find I have a scarcity mindset that at times permeates into my emotions as well. I feel as if I don’t have enough to give. But what can we do when scarcity is the only song we were ever taught? It was the only song we learned, because it doesn’t have many notes and it’s easy to remember by ear. We sing it to anyone who will listen, and its melody is simple and contagious and so everyone picks it up and continues to propagate it. What the fuck are we doing? The wealthiest nation in the world is an orchestra and it loves to play Mary Had a Little Lamb. I’d like to hear that orchestra at its full potential someday.
And as I try to grapple, once again, time and again, with the magnitude of the issues we face as a country, and the fact I feel helpless in the slung heaps of injustice and hurt and sickness of our American everyday, I must remind myself I am not the orchestra, but the stray clarinet player doing the best he can. Indeed, I have my part to play, but so do the rest of us.
So this is where the clarity of joy and purpose found me. I felt it guiding me to a better place, emotionally. I felt the hurt and heartbreak leave my body for a brief time. I forgot about the fires, and the injustices, and the goddamned pandemic, and the horsemen’s additional bag of pending plagues. Thanks to a friend who took the time to reach out and offer a temporary diversion, I put my panic attacks on hold and stepped into a familiar pool of light: One of hope and possibility. Sweet wounded Jesus and the heavens above, we all need that right now. Hope and possibility.
I’m not a doctor or a health services professional. I’m not a fireman or a nurse. I can’t kill the fires with my bare hands and I sure as hell can’t step into an emergency room and clobber COVID with roundhouse kicks. I’m barely an essential worker. But what I can do, is bring hope and levity to the people I care about. I miss my Mother and Father, my sisters too. I miss my friends, and the times when we made each other laugh in person. I miss so many things and I know you do too. I’m not in a position of power; I can’t fight the pandemic with executive orders or legislation. I’m just a guy who writes and records. But no matter what my jaded self tells me, I know there’s new songs out there for us to play. I’m pretty sure you can find one too. All ears on deck.
…I think I found mine. I think it’s true. And if I play this hopeful part on the clarinet just right, maybe the bassoons and oboes will join in, enticing the woodwinds, and then the brass and the strings and even the fella who dings the triangle is welcome to join in. Maybe it’ll just be me and my friends, but at least we won’t be bootstrapping on our own.
All I wanted to say is I am feeling better, optimistic, and bearing a lighter emotional tone. So I will be consolidating a few things in the coming weeks on idlewy.blog, and prepare for a new chapter of collaboration by sharing this blog and this space with my creative allies to make great shit, and to promote joy. Let’s see what sticks.
I saw that bag from the American Beauty movie, and it is still as magical as ever. And when I felt my breath disappear in one hard gasp, I couldn’t tell if I was crying because of how beautiful it was, or because I live in a landfill.
Come along as I discuss a few attempts at self care this past week, as well as the tangle of projects in need of problem solving. So in a nutshell:
It’s okay to read your work and be proud of it. Doing that got me through the beginning of a busy week.
The creative life is plentiful with stories and projects to get done: a children’s book, a songwriting collaboration, podcasting, a new story idea, and a master list of pending projects waiting for me! But what else is new? Prioritize!
We all have a lot going on, in work, life, and the creative pursuit: Sometimes, chilling out with your friends and loved ones is ok.
If you’re a creative with a day-job, I’d love to hear about your projects! Say hi at @idlewy Visit idlewy.blog for more content by and for working class creatives!
I talked it out at lunchtime and recorded the third episode of The Writing Record! It’s not so much a podcast, but me documenting my writing process to better examine what my approach is. The first project I’m discussing on it is my children’s book named Charlie Bird. I found the theme and it was the best! Subscribe to check out this confessional style writing podcast/journal about the writing process, thoughts on creativity, and other emotional notes. It’s insanely liberating to be open about my writing progress, shortcomings, and victories. Welcome!
Finished the Charlie Bird Draft. Left a little in the tank to fix it up tomorrow.
The value of the pocket notebook is starting to make its way into the work. The act of gathering is one of my favorites. Do you carry a notebook everywhere you go?
I put my phone away at 9pm. My loved ones in bed and resting. I roamed my house in darkness and felt the comfort of each floor as the roar of the wind was only heard, like a hum. I cataloged my blank journals, and admired the paper quality, like a nerd. I anticipated what I would write in their pages; a script on the larger notepads, lyrics on the A5 spiral notebooks for accessibility, short stories on the case bound journals, etc. It was wonderful. Then I went to my desk, and made a list of my dream projects I want to complete.
Then I started working on the first one.
I wasn’t distracted. The scant energy in my heart and soul from a long day were just enough for me to write, and make real progress on something.
I went to bed at 11pm. Overjoyed, and renewed, and eager to do the same thing tonight.
Two minute journaling is kind of nice when most of your brain cells are shut down. I’m finding hope in it! Trying these three questions to keep it simple:
What am I grateful for today?
What did you accomplish today?
How I can I improve?
I wrote poetry this week. It isn’t much during this busy time, but it’s something. I celebrate that. Short journal entries and haiku writing is becoming a good source of motivation for me, as I am able to finish the work in one sitting. Usually that’s about all I get right now to write. Baby steps.
There’s so much poetry out there. I’m out of the loop on contemporary poets that I decided to start educating myself and reading what’s current (I’ll give the dead ones a break). So many wonderful practitioners today that I don’t know where to start! Found a good list of poets I want to look into. Saving for later…
The Creative Drive Podcast will keep me active this weekend as I try to record my first submissions! I can’t wait to get this project going to provide a showcase for the folks in the #writingcommunity on Twitter and beyond!
Overall, my head is not in the right place. I’m overwhelmed. I’m exhausted. A combination of work stress and lack of time for family and creative life. I need sleep. Anytime I try to stay up to make stuff, it ends up derailing the week. It’s okay to accept there’s only so many hours in the day. There’s only so much that can be done. The paperwork at the office can often wait a just little. Just breathe. The script, with its aggressive, unrealistic deadline, can be postponed a day or so. Go easy on yourself, because after all, we’re in the middle of a pandemic that is indiscriminately upending our society’s norms. Work and life expectations are not the same, and as we are dragged in the riptide of this wave of anxiety and uncertainty, we must believe: We deserve a moment of rest.