It’s almost six o’clock on the last day of 2016 and I’m just now starting my last blog post of the year. I’ve been pretty tired today due to getting in at three in the morning from last night’s gig and then not being able to fall asleep until four-ish. I had to be up at eight to get ready to teach one of my guitar students. A power nap did occur, but it was short, maybe twenty minutes of actual sleep, so coffee will have to carry me through until time for bed. Last night we hit at about 8:45 and finished our last tune at around 1:30. All in all we played well and kept a crowd there through the night. It was a decent way to finish out the year’s performances and we all made it home safely. Over the past few days I’ve been thinking about the positives of the year in review and haven’t taken a stab at the things that could use improvement. I think that it’s time that I do just that.
This past year kicked off with my being involved in one group, The Chicago Classical Guitarists Ensemble, essentially a sextet. We did some good work and performed at the Mid-American Guitar Ensemble Festival in Grand Rapids, Michigan in early April. We had a couple other performances, but I decided to leave the group in May because while it had been a very worthwhile experience it was not moving me closer to increasing my income as a musician. While this might seem to some to be a somewhat mercenary reason for moving on, one of my major goals for this year was to come closer to a livable income in my chosen profession, and this was not moving me forward in that direction. This left me entirely on my own through the summer, which yielded three pickup gigs with some local semi-pros between June, July and August.
After moving through eight months of the year, I hit the end of August and the realization that it had been a full year since I’d been involved in a regularly working group, which didn’t sit well with me. I obviously was not getting closer to one of my prime goals, so something had to change. I decided to load on the groups to try to boost the income potential. Theoretically, I thought, this would be likely to resolve the issue, so I dove in, committing to four bands and a heavy woodshedding workload. Since around October the gigs have started to come in through a couple, the workload is still pretty heavy, and the income is improving, but not anywhere near what it needs to be, and quite frankly I’m still not getting the level of personal satisfaction out of the game that I’m looking for either.
My writing practice has made solid improvements this year over the previous years. I have, as of this writing, successfully completed two writing challenges for a total of three months of daily writings of at least 750 words per day. I’ve generated a good number of essays that I’m pleased with and some fiction that I’m not sure what I’m going to do with. There were periods of lost time over the rest of the year and low productivity, but for the most part I’m starting to actually be the writer I want to grow into. I’m running two blogs and have been gaining followers on both as well as being read all over the world, twenty-seven countries and counting. This pleases me greatly, but I also need to look at formal publication submissions, particularly ones that pay. However, I do think that I’ve made much more progress this year in my writing work than I have in my musical work, and I’m going to stick to that perspective because I’ve actually accomplished some of the goals I set for myself in this arena quite well. The bar will need to be higher for 2017, but I am going into the next year in this area with some confidence.
One of the things that I have learned over the years is that as a creative person I have to be a creative person in order to have any chance of achieving either personal satisfaction in my life or a modicum of happiness. I must create; it’s something that I HAVE to do. When I’m not pursuing a creative bent, I lose my desire to be. My depressive periods become progressively more dangerous, last longer, and are much more devastating. I become increasingly difficult to live with and wall myself away. So, I have continued my pursuits and will do so, continuing to try different approaches until I find something that works and yields the results I desire. I’m finding my way, and will eventually get to where I want to be. Tomorrow I start 2017, and start brainstorming for a fresh approach to the conundrum which is making a living as a musician.