Why is it that when people read my scripts, I am not terribly threatened by their response? I write as much lousy dialogue and description as anybody, and the fact that people point it out to me in the process is fine with me. It’s the nature of the work. It wasn’t really true in the beginning, but I got used to it. Obviously, you have to live it with it if your work is ever going to grow.
But music has been a different thing. I don’t know why, which is why I’m taking a minute to reflect on it. I once wrote a Christmas musical for church that a friend told me later he hated. Well, he didn’t say hated. But he did say that there was nothing in it, save one character, that he liked. The music, he said was derivative (terrible thing to tell a writer, as if the vast majority of things weren’t in some measure derivative–can anyone say Shakespeare? But it hurts our pride. Hah…) I didn’t write anything for over six months. Spun into a pretty deep depression, and to this day, I’d kill the desire to write music if I could. And sad to say, I’ve been more successful at killing that impulse than is probably good.
But I always end up rolling back around to it. Since trombone in the sixth grade and singing “500 miles” in the third, I’ve been doing music. Picked up a guitar as a sophomore in high school and have been bumming around with one ever since. But still, when I trot out a song, it’s one of the most terrifying things I do. Not that I think my music is particularly strong or insightful–I’m pretty sure they’re average, run-of-the-mill kinds of songs. But for some reason, when I think that, or worse, when someone tells me that, I default to the notion that I’m average, run-of-the-mill, or probably worse.
Pride. Drives me nuts.
But it makes me sensitive to all the making we do. Again, the creative urge lived out connects something of our hearts to a material something we offer the world. And inevitably, it means we are parading something of our invisible selves for the world to react to, enjoy, or despise. We trade in “goods” that we make and are making, and that commerce is called relationship. It’s easy to see why acceptance means so much.
I’ll keep making songs here and there. Can’t help it, really. Just like you can’t help making whatever you make. Truth is, God’s called us to it, according to the gifts we have.
Takes faith to keep going.
2 Replies to “Making, and Making Music”
I have always considered it a cruelty to have the drive within to create music, but not the ability to create great music. My words are trite, my melodies simplistic, and every time I stand in front of an audience to try and show them what I have done, my knees knock and my mind cannot focus on nor remember the words. I cannot even watch American Idol because my stage fright occurs every time I’m watching someone else stumble through an audition. Sometimes I feel like God has given me a gift of mediocrity, yet my pride wants so much more, and it feels like a constant, irritating humiliation from which I learn nothing but meloncholy.
While I am no expert, I remember that Christmas play well, and remember it was the music that drew me…it drew me to meet you, to sing for you, and, later, to sing it’s beautiful melodies. “Snow on the Hilltop” haunted me then as it haunts me now, with its pictures of a cold winter and the light of Christ’s hope and love within the cabin of our Christmas dreams. If that much imagery can be contained in something “derivative”, then I’ll take it, any day! None of us in that production ever agreed with your friend’s opinion, and we don’t now. Though, that is likely pride on our parts. If the musical suffered, it was in our execution, NOT your writing…or your music.