I’m a terrified musician.
Some of you may have seen the music video I posted a few weeks ago. My first music video! Some of the best of you have even been listening to my stuff on Spotify. But I couldn’t post proof of my launch as an on-the-side musician if I didn’t also tell my story. Why I don’t want to be one. At all.
When I recorded my album, Restoring My Soul, I went downtown. I played at a professional studio and got seven songs done in the first session. I got back to my car and had a mental breakdown and a two-day anxiety attack.
Those of you who know me well know that, yes, I’m emotional, but the dramatic, gleeful kind. I’m not prone to depression/anxiety. Panic attacks stay pretty far away from me. For two days, I was in terror, a figurative ball of self-loathing on the floor of a locked closet. I was positive I was ruining my life.
I think I’m a joke of musician. That I have no right to do this. That my music is horrible. For months I couldn’t listen to the finished recordings without cringing and going into hot-all-over panic mode.
When I was seven, I got a violin. I was excited—I was sure it was something God wanted me to do. God wanted me to play the violin. I was going to grow up to play hippie, gorgeous violin music that made people want to cry.
When I’d had it for about a week, cheerfully tromping around the house making some noise, when I hadn’t had a single lesson and it was just a kid’s violin in a case that I didn’t even have tuned—an adult friend of my parents came over. They heard I had a violin. “Play something!” they said.
I didn’t know a darn thing, of course, but I put it on my shoulder and played a bit just so they could hear the sound of the violin.
“Oh!” the adult said, in a disgusted tone, face pinched. “That sounds awful!”
I was crushed. I had never heard an adult speak to me like that before. For months after that, I got a hot feeling, like I wanted to run, inside my chest. I hid the violin behind a chair in my family’s house and never touched it again.
Seven years later, I started to fiddle around with piano songs—I’m self-taught, can’t read music to save my life (I can play four bars after I decode it for ten minutes—does that count?), and I know absolutely no theory. Still, when I sat down at the piano, songs happened. But they were for me. Just for me. I was a lousy musician, and I knew it. Scratch that, I wasn’t a musician. I’m a writer who oodles around with piano keys.
I want to be a writer. I want to be a New York Times best-selling, Newberry Medal winning MG and YA author who writes books that delight and challenge the soul. I didn’t want to be a musician.
God dragged me into this dream kicking and screaming. I surrendered and said, “Fine, everyone will think my music is a joke and I’ll be a humiliation, but I’ll do it.” Do it for what you believe in, He said. I realized I could give every cent of profit towards fighting sex trafficking, and then I had a reason. That reason, that I could actually do something to change life for my world, was the only reason I had the guts to do this.
I could do it for them. I couldn’t do it for me.
I haven’t written songs in four years. I stopped in high school after my relationship with God staled and went south. After posting that music video, after becoming a public musician, after stepping out and saying, God has something to say through me, and I’m going to do this for them whether I have the courage or not– I’ve written two songs. The best songs I’ve ever written, to date. In three weeks. One of them in three days.
I’m meant to do this. I always was.
So my story as a musician isn’t about me trying to be awesome, trying to get ahead in a world of millions of other “trying” performers. This is about me facing myself. This is about being brave enough to produce even when I want to vomit, to go to my grave knowing that I did it. That I looked that beast in the eye and displayed my art anyway.
There you go. That’s the truth.
Thanks for listening. Thanks for watching. Share this crazy music video, now that you know the story. Tell people where the profit goes and tag them. I’d love help.