not too inspired at the moment

Yeah, not too inspired right now, for no particular reason, just spent the day trying to make some sense out of all the stuff in my bedroom, finish a song, get organized for a trip, catch up on emails & phone calls, and tidy up the kitchen which was difficult because the kitchen sink decided quite firmly it was going to be plugged up (and no, Drano didn't help). Arggh. Gotta call the landlord in the morning but there's no time tomorrow for a plumber visit. Plus I had a somewhat irritating telephone conversation with an exboyfriend who is a good friend but just kinda rubbed me the wrong way. That's about the third irritating conversation I've had with different people over the last week. Makes me wonder. Why am I now irritated with stuff that normally washes over me. I kept breathing, concentrating on my breath, trying to bring myself into this moment, right now... and let go. I'm a little down, like I said in my last post. Having a clean bedroom helps a little, though, ha ha. Looking forward to this little trip with my mom, should be fun. And then my Dad is coming for a visit, and for that I am very grateful... the gift of time with him is something I cherish.

up and down

Sunday morning... I felt, with the good reactions to my music over the last few weeks, that my goal of composing and producing to the level required by film & televsion is becoming closer. So I decided to take the plunge and contact a music publisher who signed one of my instrumentals last year. Up to now I've always submitted through an organization like Taxi or SongU or Sonicbids, etc. I've never approached a publisher on my own. I knew I had one chance to make a good impression, that's why, even though I made the deal last June, I didn't use that connection to try to market anything else. I had to wait until I had the skills, and the tools, to consistently produce effectively for film & tv. In February, I cracked it. I got several forwards to publishers/libraries thru Taxi, a little composing job with a internet tv show which also wants to use a couple of my existing pieces, and great feedback. I knew that I had stepped up a rung. So I composed the email, included links to the 3 best pieces I have in my cataloque (but also said I'd be happy to send MP3s or a CD if they preferred), and pressed "send". I knew it could take weeks or months to hear back from any submission, if at all. An hour later, I got an email - they want to sign all 3. Got the contract, mailing it shortly.

Monday morning... had coffee with a former student who I worked with for the last couple of years. He had to stop lessons a few weeks ago. He had not felt that great in his last couple of sessions. Went to the doctor, he has cancer. Very bad. His last test gives him perhaps 4 or 5 months. He might not see summer. We had a good long chat, came out to find he'd been given a parking ticket. He laughed. Friday, my trio and I are going to go over to his place & jam. He says when he's playing music, he's in the now and the future is the future. The now is all any of us have. Yesterday is gone, we can't go back, even if we wish we could. Tomorrow is tomorrow, and we can't say what will happen, for any of us. All we have is today. Live for today, this moment, for in this moment, life is in you, and you are life.

Tuesday morning... I finally finished drafting a lyric I'd been working on for the last few days. A producer in Europe had been looking for country lyrics for an artist he's producing. I, along with some other lyricists, were given the music for the song & asked to write a lyric to fit. I sent in my lyric. A couple of hours later, I got an email back. Several lyrics had been considered, and the two best were going to be made into demos to present to the artist next week, and she will pick one. Mine is one of the two to be demo'd.

As for spring cleaning... didn't get nearly as far as I wanted. Better knuckle down, eh?

walking slowly towards spring

Sometimes songwriting is like pulling teeth. I have this fun music track composed by a new collaborator, and I’m trying to write lyrics for it. I have come up with what I think is a real jumpin’ chorus, and I have a couple of half verses… and I swear, I got two lines last night and a couple today… but it’s so slow and painful. It seems to be more natural to me to write words first, and then add music -- although in past I have improvised my way through a new song, both lyrically & melodically.

As I learned more about songwriting I realized that (as the feedback kept saying) my melodies ‘meandered’ and lacked structure. So I began to write the lyrics first, looking for good form, contrast between sections, interesting rhyme schemes, stuff like that. And that’s become my way of doing things. Because if the lyrics have good structure, then the music tends to follow.

So here I am trying to write lyrics to someone else’s already existing music. I don’t know if it’s just a creative down time or whether it’s doing it ‘backwards’ that’s holding me up. But I’ll just keep reading & singing what I have over the next few days and hope that inspiration will strike.

I did a fair bit of music writing this week too – came up with a couple of :30 action instrumentals to pitch to an opportunity. Also heard a short dramatic indie film was looking for a composer, so I sent in a couple of pieces for consideration. And a tv show was looking for some exotic electronica & I submitted to that as well. I have another piece ready to submit tomorrow… ambient electronica for a compilation album – just want to listen to it with ‘fresh ears’ before I submit it. And I heard about a neat musical event that is looking for 60 sec long electroacoustic pieces for the event, radio play, etc. You have to write the piece specifically for the show. So I started one tonight. I will try to write at least two, I have a week to get them in.

I also have been working on my idea for the “Script Frenzy” challenge in April. I’ve got an idea for a screenplay that’s kinda a cross between ‘As Good as It Gets’ and ‘The Goodbye Girl’. I’ve been reading a book on screenwriting that I had in my library from a while ago. I even found a place I could submit the thing to… if it’s any good in the end. I don’t know how it will turn out – I’ve never done anything like it before. In preparation for your script writing, you are supposed to write the “two minute movie” – meaning you have to summarize the beginning, middle & end of your story on exactly two pages. Well, my beginning (which is supposed to be about 10 minutes of film (that means 10 pages of script & about 1/2 a page of the 'two minute movie' outline)), took all the first page. I think I put in too much detail. And afterwards I realized a lot of the ‘action’ takes place in the character’s ‘heads’. Which doesn’t translate well to film, ha ha.

This is the third week I’ve had organic fruits & vegetables delivered. I believe it is making a difference in how and what I eat. I had a great dinner tonight with carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, celery, green pepper, garlic. I got some lovely mangos, pears, bananas & oranges in the box this week. There have been too many days in the past where I got tied up with work and neglected to get groceries and ended up eating sandwiches or porridge for meals. Just walking into the kitchen and seeing a big bowl of fruit, or opening the fridge and seeing lots of veg, makes me feel good.

The other thing I’ve been doing is reading Eckhart Tolle’s most recent book, “The New Earth”. I have one of his other books, “Stillness Speaks”, my girlfriend gave it to me a while ago. The same girlfriend said I should pick up the newest book. Oprah is also doing an on-line thing with Eckhart every Monday night, I’ve managed to catch some of it a couple of times.

A lot of the book resonates with me, but I feel like I’d have to read it ten more times to really get it, ha ha. But some of the things he talks about, I’ve talked about with my students in my own small way. About being aware of our programming when we can, and observing our reactions to things. It seems to me that the first thing that has to happen for anything to change, is that we become aware of it. This is very true in voice. Part of the job of the mentoring teacher is to encourage the student to become aware of how they do things in the moment, and then gently suggest new thoughts and have them try again. Hopefully, if what you said made sense, they feel a difference. And it’s those little differences between before and after that, over time, show them ‘how it should be’. Anyway, the whole Eckhart thing is pretty deep. I will keep trying to get my brain around it.

Something unexpected happened in my life a few days ago, and this past week has been like a cherry tree, blossoming in spring. Something you hope for during the cold winter, bowed down by your memories. Suddenly there is a little warmth, a little sun. And your spirits rise. You move forward, a little hesitant, your feet unsure, hoping you will not trip and fall, hoping you will do things right.

Just a block away from me there is a street lined with cherry trees in full bloom. I will go stand beneath them, lifting my face to the scented canopy, my heart glad :)

of March drawers and April frenzy

CALL ME CRAZY but I’ve decided to sign up for yet another challenge. This one is called “Script Frenzy” and it happens during the month of April. You challenge yourself to write 100 pages of a script or screenplay. Now, before you confirm with a shake of your head that I am indeed crazy… this is something I’ve thought about doing more than once.

I’ve done just about everything you can do on a stage show in my time… I’ve been the props manager, the stage manager, in charge of lights & sound, I’ve acted, I’ve produced and I’ve even directed. One of the original plays I directed won an award a while back. If you’ve been reading my blog you know that I’ve got some half-finished novel manuscripts around too.

I heard about Script Frenzy through NaNoWriMo (November is Novel Writing Month), another challenge I’ve done 3 times now… never finished it, but definitely wrote more than I would have without the challenge.

It’s good Script Frenzy doesn’t start til April because I’ve got that spring cleaning I’m supposed to be doing over the long weekend in March. It will be good to get things sorted so there is room for creative flow. I also have to do my taxes in April… well, doing my taxes is the easy part, it’s doing the books that’s the hard part. But if I collect all the receipts into one place when I’m spring cleaning then the job will be sorting through them & adding them up & getting the totals into spreadsheets & exciting stuff like that.

Confession: I’m a funny sort of person. Funnier than you think. I have this thing with drawers. I discovered this a while ago when I did a trade with someone who was starting a business doing feng shui decorating. I helped with her website, and she was to give me some pointers on organizing my stuff. After talking to her for awhile and visualizing my place, I realized that my drawers do not function correctly.

See, drawers are supposed to be tools that you use to put stuff in and get stuff out of. But in my house, they just end up being depositories for stuff. Stuff gets in my drawers and stays there. Forever and ever. So I got this bright idea that I would buy a big cupboard for the bedroom. The idea was I could put my bits in little baskets on the shelves, or fold things up and put them on the shelves, so that they would visible to my eyes when I opened the door. Drawers close, and what’s in them is hidden. Open a cupboard, and your stuff is visible. Easy to organize. That was my logic.

So I got this nice big cupboard on sale at Zellers, had a friend help me put it together. I carefully put some stuff in it… and now there are totes piled in front of it, and a coat hanger in front of it, and an old TV tray with my old TV in front of it. What do I live out of? The laundry basket, of course!

Anyway, I have no idea what I will write about for the Script Frenzy challenge. I’m reading a book on screenwriting and thinking about it. I’m thinking I’d like to try to write something like ‘Notting Hill’ or ‘When Harry Met Sally’ or ‘Pretty Woman’ or something like that. A romantic comedy. That would be fun. We’ll see. Maybe there’s an idea buried in my cupboard somewhere, lol. We’ll find out next week… when spring cleaning officially begins. Hum Beethoven’s 5th….

I'm not struck with stars

I admit it. Sometimes I discriminate and that’s not right.

Sometimes I look at the rich & famous and shrug my shoulders. The incessant news about every little thing they do and every relationship… even who they had sex with… it all seems so shallow. Not their lives, necessarily, but our hunger to be flies on the wall as they struggle like any other human being to find some peace and meaning in their lives.

Angelina Jolie, Christina Aguilera, poor Britney Spears, strange Michael Jackson, etc. etc. Sometimes their lives are like those car crashes you see on the highway. Some people slow down to look, I avert my eyes and say a prayer hoping no one was seriously hurt. And yet I watch the Oscars and the Grammy’s and the Juno’s. American Idol, Canadian Idol. What can I say, I’m a contradiction.

Still I often feel that this unhealthy obsession with stars affects us more than we realize. Our news is plastered with items on who did what today, who is pregnant, who got arrested for speeding, who stubbed their toe. We compare ourselves to them, and usually find ourselves wanting. Or our children aspire to be just like them, and forget to find themselves. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? No, it’s a lack of identity.

I see nothing wrong with deeply respecting any artist in any medium for the work, the training, the accomplishments, the dedication. But I don’t see why their broken marriages, or struggles with addiction, or holiday photos are any of our business – unless they care to share their experiences and the knowledge they have gained. But hiding in the bushes taking pictures of someone’s private life is just what it sounds like. An invasion. Distasteful. Slightly creepy, even.

All this attention on superstars IMHO breeds a dissatisfaction with our own lives and a deep seated wish to win the lottery, or be discovered, or wake up and be someone else. We forget to turn off the TV and radio and iPod and computer and walk in the sunshine listening to the birds. We forget that we too have talent and skill. That we too are beautiful. That it’s our job not to imitate others, but look quietly within and discover our own self, see our own programming, and strive to move beyond it. We need to take the risk to see ourselves clearly as rightfully deserving life, and time, and joy, and music. Otherwise we are breeding unhappiness and discontent. And surely we have more than enough of that in this word.

I think many of us feel powerless to do much about the state of the world today, and so the stars and their doings offer a distraction from our sometimes mundane lives.

But I have this belief that if each one of us worked to discover what lies within us and worked to grow our personal potential… to examine what we think and why we think it, question our programming, re-write our operating system… that we would each send a ripple effect into the world. If we looked around and encouraged our friends, spouse, children, parents, to write, sing, play, create… participate in music and in art… we would each be lifted. Not because we are dictating belief systems to each other, but because we are loving each other, plain and simple, without condition. But the whole thing has to start with each of us looking within, becoming aware of our own potential, and working to water our own creative souls.

So whatever it is that you wish you had time for… whatever it is that you began and then stopped… how about starting? Draft that book you keep talking about. Gather the songs for the album. Go buy some paints & canvas at the art store. Allow yourself to play. In playing, you are childlike… doing with joy… being in the moment… lifting your spirit.

Me? I’m going to work on appreciating the journey of stars like Angelina Jolie, for how far she’s come, and for what she gives back to the world. But I don’t want to be a voyeur peeping over the window sill of her life. Yuck. I’ll try to learn from the wisdom she & others like her willingly share…. But other than that, I need to focus on my own growth, my own journey.

okayyyy… but can I still watch AI?