The 1 Rule of this year is: release a song a month, no matter what. Already I’ve missed the mark. I’ve had plenty of time this month, and even started with a head start by having the lyrics basically finished last month. That preparedness led me into a false sense of security. I spent about 10 – 15 days this month putting off getting started, thinking that because the lyrics and melody were basically established, that everything would be a total breeze. As you can tell, the end of January came and went, and I still wasn’t finished.
I wanted to beat myself up for it. It’s the 1 Rule after all. The whole point of this yearlong exercise is too use the 1 Rule as a motivation that frees me from all the other arbitrary rules I’ve accumulated in the past in order to actually release music. Historically this is the type of thing that would have caused me to just abandon an endeavor like this. “Already fucked it up. Why finish?”
But then I realized: no one fucking cares. I’m not at a level (I could honestly end this sentence here) where people are anxiously waiting the next installment. If I never posted another song, no one except friends and family would even notice. All of this sounds very disheartening. But it’s just the truth. I have not done the work to establish a fan base that creates a sense of actual accountability.
I think in the past that would have caused me to freeze. I would have sullenly lamented the tragedy of my unrecognized genius (r/iamverysmart) and then proven my genius by doing nothing.
I’m no longer about that life.
A dirth of fans and social reach should actually be liberating this early in a career. It opens the door to fail publicly without a lot of consequences. I’m not saying I don’t want a ton of people to listen to and enjoy my music, but the reality is, I’m not actually prepared to handle all the bad that comes along with that good. My skin is thick but I know I would miss the callouses that come with a slow start rather than currently occupying my dream station in life.
(I’m struggling to find a way to say this next part without conjuring connotations of a Sunday service or New Age guru bullshit, but it’s impossible.) I realized in order to move forward, I have to forgive myself for my mistakes and recalibrate my self image and expectations to something that more closely resembles reality.
So, what lessons can I take from this month to help balance the disappointment in not finishing on schedule and make future attempts more successful? Deadlines will be missed. I will fail to meet certain goals. But I can do better than I have been for the past decade by quickly reestablishing those goals and not sweating needing a grace period to finish something up. That’s not really a lesson though. It’s too easy to turn that into a post-hoc rationalization that only serves to provide an excuse for not accomplishing what I want to. And maybe that’s what this is, but I feel like, in moderation, it’s a good outlook.
The frustrating thing looking back on this past month is that I probably could have taken all those days off from working on the song, if only I taken them throughout the month instead of all together. So, perhaps that’s the digestible, practical lesson of January: take breaks when I need them, not when I want them.
Slings and Arrows will be up in the next few days.