Crossroads

It’s been a very long time since I’ve written a real blog entry. Sure, it’s technically only been a little over a month since I wrote my “This Blog Has Moved to Blogspot” entry, but that was only a housekeeping blog. I wrote it mainly so anyone who’d been reading my blogs on MySpace would know to look elsewhere for future entries. I’d intended to write a year-end blog the next day, or maybe a New Year blog a few days later, but I never quite got started.

My most recent blog entry before that was back in early April 2010, entitled “Virartech Interview Now in English”. However, I’m not considering that a real blog, either. While its Blogspot form actually makes it the longest blog I’ve ever written, and perhaps my most insightful for anyone interested in my background and outlook as a songwriter and musician, the original MySpace version of the blog really only provided a link to an interview I’d done separately, answering questions asked of me by a music and technology interviewer from Russia. Answering questions, even probing questions, is a lot easier than starting with a blank page, trying to figure out where to begin.

The one before that was really just a link to a review of my Love Holds On album. My last real blog, entitled simply “Love Holds On”, was written back in early August of 2009, almost a year and a half ago. It covered some background leading up to the release of the album that took me over a decade to record and release, albeit with some shorter releases’ coming out en route. Now here we are at the first day of February 2011, and I’m finally sitting down to write another real blog entry.

It’s not that I haven’t been thinking about writing a real blog entry during the last year and a half. In fact, I even started on at least one occasion I can recall. That aborted entry, which I hope to get around to writing one of these days, would have told the story behind There’s a Chair”, a song I co-wrote early last year and recorded and released as a single last summer. Though I’ve told an abbreviated version of the story’s genesis (see the link in the previous sentence), the actual evolution of the song through its writing process is likely much more interesting — my co-writer, Al Lowry, actually suggested it might provide enough material for a book, though I’m highly skeptical on that. The problem on that particular prospective entry was a combination of time pressures and having too much to say, but not really knowing where I wanted to go with it. I could cop out by suggesting it was the proverbial not seeing the forest for the trees, but I think it was actually more like sitting at a crossroads with too many different potential directions and no clue as to which one was most likely to lead to the optimal destination.

In fact, at the higher level, I think perhaps that analogy may be the best explanation of my lack of real blog entries over the last year and a half. There have been multiple ideas for blog entries on my mind at any given time, but which one would be the right one to start writing, and where would it lead?

Don’t get me wrong; too many ideas and indecision aren’t the only reasons for my blog writing absence. My 26-year marriage came to an official end in May 2010, but it had been rapidly winding down since approximately November 2008, progressing through a trial separation beginning in July 2009 and the divorce process beginning in late October of that same year. Even if you discount the emotional upheaval that comes along with being told the person who’d promised to spend her life with you is no longer interested in being married to you, there is a lot of time and effort that goes into trying to separate out 26 years of “stuff” into his and hers. It’s not even so much the “stuff” itself as it is trying to ensure that there can be some reasonable way forward into new lives in light of all the practicalities the “stuff” implies in light of careers, financial situations, family obligations, and so on. Between revelation, marriage counseling, separation logistics, the divorce process itself, and post-divorce logistics, we’re talking about a significant drain of not only time, but also mental and emotional energy. That was on top of being involved in helping a daughter through her college selection process and in her moving away to college, alongside placing even more urgency on trying to establish some sort of career path forward in light of the fact that the route I’d taken over the last decade plus had not, and to date has not, paid off financially.

Of course, all this “life gets in the way” stuff might well have been fodder for numerous real blog entries had I not tried to maintain some fairly rigid boundaries between my professional and personal lives. I started my blog back in May 2006 with the idea of using it both as a promotional vehicle for my songwriting and recordings and to give me a vehicle for expressing background thoughts and experience that didn’t suit the 3-minute pop (or country or rock) song format. I more or less rigidly defined myself as a songwriter and sometimes recording artist, and I tried keeping my blogs relevant to that focus. Needless to say, when “life is getting in the way”, pulling in multiple directions at the same time, it can be tough to maintain a rigid, narrow focus.

The thing is, though, pursuing any sort of artistic focus, be it songwriting, singing, acting, painting, dancing, or some other field, tends to blur the lines between the personal and the professional. Not only do the emotional, mental, and physical impacts of life have a bearing on creative energy, but life often serves as the research lab for creative output. Sure, it’s tough to focus on writing a blog to promote the latest recording if you’re worrying about where you’ll be living, and how you’ll pay for it, in 3-6 months, but perhaps there is a song, or blog entry, to come from the heart of that real life concern? Perhaps too rigidly defining how a blog will be used acts as a roadblock to writing real blog entries?

I’m not entirely clear where I’m going with this. I sat down today to write this blog, knowing only that the title of “Crossroads” seemed appropriate for where I sit in life right now. I know where I’ve been, and I know that, despite successes of various types I’ve had along the roads I’ve traveled, and despite there having been a number of indirect benefits to taking the path I’ve taken, I have not yet succeeded in making a living as a songwriter, recording artist, performer, musician, music producer, or any of the other roles I’ve played over the last dozen or so years. This was not a practical financial issue when I was married, as my ex-wife’s career grew strongly, significantly surpassing the financial success I’d had in the computer industry prior to pursuing the music industry full-time alongside taking the primary role in raising our children, cooking family dinners, and so on. However, it is a significant practical issue in my present day reality of having to cover my costs of living and contribute toward my daughter’s college expenses, all from the rapidly dwindling savings I had left after my divorce.

I guess you could say I know where I’ve been, and I know where I am now, but I am at a significant crossroads, with no clear roadmap to show the way forward. A part of me knows that I simply have to start down some road, not so much worrying about where it will lead as long as I keep my instincts sharp and remain flexible to changing directions down the line as roadblocks and opportunities arise. Another part of me wants to thoroughly research all the options to make sure I am choosing the optimal path.

Then there is the risk-averse side of me that keeps nagging in my ear to get a mercenary day job and treat “this music stuff” as a hobby “like everyone else”. (He often adds, “what makes you think you’re so special?!”) Sometimes I want to slap that side of me silly. Still, what if he’s right? The road I’ve traveled to get to this crossroads has provided many benefits, but making a living wasn’t one of those, or at least it hasn’t been yet. As for the day job route, to quote Lennon and McCartney, “I’ve seen that road before.” It was a relatively “safe” one, though finding my way back to it is by no means guaranteed, especially in today’s economy and after thirteen years away from it. All of the other roads I see in front of me, including the one I’ve been on recently, are much riskier, but potentially much more satisfying to travel. Can they get me anywhere beyond going around in circles back to this point, though? And can any of them do it quickly enough, before I run out of gas?

Who knows? At any rate, I guess I’ve just written my first real blog entry in a year and a half.