Challenging the Challenge

One member of my writing group is a guy named Rich – who writes an interesting, thought provoking blog that I follow here: New Day Rising
He commented on my last post with a challenge to write about what music means to me.
I have thought about this challenge since.
Initially, I thought I might write about my small blue plastic record player that I got when I was 13 years old that I listened over and over and over again to Meat Loaf: Bat out of Hell.  This album, I purchased multiple times – twice in vinyl, twice in 8 track, three times on cassette, then 3 CD’s and the last of which I downloaded on my computer as an MP3.  I sure wore old Meat Loaf out!
I thought too about writing about the multiple live shows I have seen.  Friends and famous people and famous friends, I must have seen live music thousands of times in my life.  Some are more memorable than others.  Some musicians are really talented and it has been breathtaking to see them and others I have to hold my breath when they ask how I enjoyed the show because I needed a moment to search for something positive to say.  I don’t always like what they play even if I like them, you understand?
I thought then I might write about the beautiful talented Joe Chithalen, who is one of Kingston’s most remembered and loved musicians owing to the fact that he was a magnificent talent who died suddenly, tragically and unexpectedly just as he was emerging to some level of fame.  His legacy of music  makes instruments available to the Kingston community in order so that the inspired can have access to tools, with nothing but ID with a local address.  He was a really wonderful man in life and in death he is honoured by those who support the library which is set up in his memory.
But in the back of my mind, I was quite bugged by the request.  It is not that I am annoyed with Rich but there is this niggling little bit of hurt that comes from the personal experience that I have with musician friends that I never have with other creatives.
Honestly, as a group they are just so obnoxiously self centred!  As a whole they have a singleminded expectation that writers will write about them, painters will paint them, friends will support them, family will endorse them and that we will drag ourselves out to see them play, no matter how awful the weather or how much we dislike the sort of music that they love.  Yet largely… they are absolutely non-reciprocal with other creatives.  Rarely, if ever, have I witnessed musicians promoting other creatives work, unless it is music.
For many years I have pulled people to shows, endorsed musicians on my blogs and Facebook accounts.  I have asked people to see them and invited them to buy their CD’s. I have written about them ad nauseum and donated to the causes that they are supporting.  Too, I myself bought so many crappy CD’s that I can’t even begin to tell you.  Yet, I have found that as a group (musicians that I know), do not post links to my writing, speak about my upcoming book, nor do they say something positive about my painting.  In fact, of the dozens of musicians who I have reached out for in all these years, I have never seen them, not a single one of them, post a single link, even too self obsessed to press a share button to tell others about what I do.
I am not suggesting that I am as talented as Emily Carr or Lawren Harris, nor am I suggesting that what I write about is as brilliant as Douglas Coupland.  I am also not suggesting that my words about life in a tiny house are as important as the news on CBC, be this a Russian meteor or whatever is going on in the world.  I am not even suggesting that they have to have the same interests, share similar beliefs or even like my work.  It is not necessary for me to have everyone like what I do and what I think.  What I am suggesting is that musicians should remember that they are not the only artists whose work is meaningful to them and they should get off their collective self-obsessed asses and do something for someone else who is also struggling to have creative outcomes.  Personally, I don’t think it would hurt them to hold their breath and say something nice.  Frankly, it is my belief that we writers do this more frequently than I myself can personally attest to.
So… do I want to write about dedicating yourself to music?  Do I wish to promote the one creative talent that almost certainly ensures that the person will become a self obsessed, smug and generally not very well rounded person?
Yes, I do!  Please do something, anything creative, but I warn you, if you are deciding on music I am hoping that you took my criticism to heart.  Please remember that the world does not revolve around you.  Other creative people also need a little high five now and again, even if you have to grit your teeth together until you find something something positive to say.
Categories: Art, Ontario, Open your eyes, View | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “Challenging the Challenge

  1. Good rant, I’m not a singer nor a writer (I do blog) I’m a knitter and a maker of things. But our daughter sings and my husband plays (piddles really) guitar and mandolin. We’ve been around musicians for years. I agree with your views of musicians. When our daughter was young she had a vocal coach who told her “God gave you a beautiful voice for you to share with others, he gave you ears to hear others also, use them both equally.” For her, singing in vocal competitions became something not so enjoyable because of the ruthlessness of the fellow singers (so many can be compared to Honey Boo Boo.) She quit the competition part of it. With my husband’s friends who pick and jam in groups I notice a ‘pecking order’ to the way they allow people to play in their groups. My husband encouraged me to take up the guitar, I took lessons but had no desire to be involved in being associated with such egotistic groups. I just stick with my knitting and when I hear something or someone I like I let them know. The same as I do with any person who shows a certain talent be it music, art, dance or poetry and writing. My father was a poet and story teller. I love stories, either audibly or written. When you understand how the human ego works it’s easy to see that ego working in others (and yourself.) When we appreciate what we have and the experiences that we have, we learn to appreciate what others do. The people that you speak of may not see that the fame and glory that they crave will come back to them as soon as they show appreciation for others. For you, don’t worry about getting their approval, you may never get it. If you approve and appreciate what they do let them know, and move on. Good luck to you.

    I found your blog VIA Tiny House News. I think I’m addicted….

  2. Elisa

    Laura, we do not know each other but I found you via and have become enamored of your blogging abilities… and your painting abilities… and your… well I am just loving reading your ideas and thoughts and experiences. Other creatives should certainly be sharing your blog and your works of art. I find you not only down to earth but also very thought provoking. While we share some similar interests, I must confess that you have opened my eyes to many new ideas I had never entertained before and for that, I thank you!

    • Thank you Elisa! I am always happy to meet another creative person. I am happy too that you agree. It is hard for creative people to make a living and at the very least, we should be able to expect that each of us does our share to promote and positively reinforce one another.
      Speaking of which, do you have a blog or website that I can peek at?

  3. I’m a musician who felt the way you do about writers. I’ve bought books of ‘friends/acquaintances’ but never a word from them about my music nor did they offer to buy my Cd.
    I didn’t finish reading their books. I didn’t write reviews that they asked for.
    I would’ve if I’d felt their writing was genuinely good.
    I don’t linger on these thoughts as they are harmful to me & there’s precious little time to have negative thoughts that are not constructive.

    • Hi Sapho0
      I am sorry that you too have had these experiences. I guess that you know how it feels to be involved with a non-reciprocal creatives too. My experiences, like this have unfortunately been mutually exclusive to musicians, so it is perhaps just that I have chosen a group of particularly self absorbed people to associate with. I am not sure? It has not been my experience with other writers, painters, jewellery makers, sewers, builders, film makers, cabinet makers, sculptors, carvers nor either have I had this with people who do not self-identify as a creative – so I don’t believe it to be connected to the friends that I make as much as it is connected to the choice as I outlined above.
      Like you I also don’t linger on the thoughts, when they come to me, I spit them out in a rant. Done.
      Keep making music and expect better of the writers in your life. They may very well need to hear a rant from you.

  4. Anonymous

    As one creative person to another…that needed to be said. I really enjoyed this post……., and am disappointed you didn’t mention how music moves and transports you……., and how music helps you to expand your large, deep heart to inspire people like me to continue to sing, even though the music inside had died………. and I had no words. Love you my friend. I’m still singing because of your encouragement!

    • Ms. Donna with the vocal cords of an angel. Raise your voice my friend! Raise your beautiful voice!

  5. I tend to agree with you. I have gritted my teeth many a time while listening to an untalented musician scream the loudest about how they don’t understand what people consider talent. While I agree with some of it, that is not an excuse for them to think that others should think their work is better than it actually is; and they certainly shouldn’t expect praise and support while they give none back (almost as if giving support to someone else will negate their own talent or creativity). However, nothing should stop them from being creative or from growing. But they could put down the ego, keep on loving what they do, and support other creatives in the process. I have found, the musicians that are the least talented (in my opinion, but also by their inability to hold a note or keep the beat) are the very ones who are so threatened by the work of others that they just can’t bring themselves to share it. I come from a talented musical family on my Mom’s side. We have natural talent, but I am no means an expert on music. I do know when someone is off key/beat, and I do know when someone overestimates their own abilities. Conversely, I also know when someone underestimates their abilities.

    As a visual artist, I am very much into what other artists are doing/creating. I often sing the praises of my fellow artists (musicians, visual artists, jewelry designers, etc.) on Facebook and in person. I know some amazing artists whose work I consider well above my own in ways, and I have no problem posting their work. Our work is all different. I am confident enough in my own work that it doesn’t make me feel like I have less talent when someone likes the work of other artists. I love it too; why wouldn’t they?

    When I first realized your talent for painting, I was blown away. I LOVE your work. Yes, my friends may want to buy YOUR work over buying my work; just because they like your style. Am I going to curl up in a ball in a corner and weep? Hell no! I celebrate everyone’s talent.

    It’s not just musicians that are afraid to post the work of others; I find a lot of people are afraid of competition. Many artists whose work I post regularly, never post mine. I can’t be offended because I truly admire these people, but it does make me wonder. Either they don’t think my work is up to par to post on their wall, or they are worried about it taking away from their own. I’m not sure; perhaps it is a bit of both in some cases. I will continue to admire their work and post their work on my wall. (I’m not referring to them posting my work on their website where they do their selling.)

    I have seen you support many, many creatives on your wall. I think there is growth in accepting the dreams and talents of others; whether or not they are popular with everyone. Indeed, we can find something positive to say about others who are creative on whatever level. You are a leader at that, Laura. Thank you for always supporting your fellow creative people. Your writing is wonderful and your artwork is amazing. I hope they will take it to heart, as well. Those with too much ego and not enough talent are never remembered for the ‘talent’ end of who they are. There is a balance, and people grow when they recognize and support others.

    • Thanks Colleen,
      I am happy that I inspired you into giving such a thought inspiring response. Thank you to for recognizing my interest in encouraging other artists. I really do try my best to share in this area. I came to believe a long time ago that in order to grow one must try to welcome and understand other creative people that they come across because it is the artists who are the voice of society. So for me, having you and other artists in my life is as important to me and my own growth as air or food. sharing is a way of collaborating and further a way to learn from the comments of others, something that I did not necessarily see or understand.
      I guess with this in hand, I should pity those who are unable to share with others because they will not grow in the way that sharing people do.

      • I’ll tell you one thing that does make me feel jealous…your replies are on that cool, crinkled paper background and mine aren’t. 😉 xo

      • It is clear that you should be blogging Colleen!
        I know you have a lot of interesting, clever things to speak to, and since you like the crinkly paper it is a no-brainer!

  6. Quite a rant there Laura 😉 I do understand what you mean I too have run into people like that in the music world but also in other creative outlets. They want so much to be promoted and grow both their base and their income they forget it’s a two way street. As for Meat Loaf, I too have worn out a few copies of Bat Out of Hell. The one that got me was Pink Floyd’s The wall. I bought it on 8 track 3 times, each time the window in my car was shattered to steal only that, not the expensive telescope in the hatch or anything else, just that 8 track. I swore I would never buy it again (and haven’t)

    • Ha! Lois! You are right, it is quite a rant.
      It is a funny thing – you know… those people who are super-duper-amazingly talented… the few and far between, they don’t really need to have promotion or a little high five – but regular people like me can use a little pat every now and again and I agree it is (or at least it should be) a two way street.
      Recently – I am feeling a little used and abused and appreciate that you stop in to let me know you are reading. More than you know, probably…
      I hope you have a great day!

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