I've been thinking over 2015 as I come up with goals for 2016, and one thing that happened over and over again in 2015 was getting rejected. My music got turned down by contest after contest, my input was pointedly ignored by the two younger women I was paired with to write a song at a "women's flash co-write" event, I submitted work for all sorts of ReverbNation "opportunities" that didn't pan out, I had a few promising contacts that never materialized into anything, etc., etc. It would be easy to focus on those events and outcomes and believe that overall 2015 was not a good year.
On the contrary, 2015 was MARVELOUS! All the baby steps that I've taken musically began to take me farther from home in 2015, as I played my original music in six states, put myself through a "boot camp" of 10 Open Mics in 10 Days, had my first paid gigs, participated in a festival for the first time (and even got my name on the t-shirt!), and recorded and began selling my first "starting line" EP. I FINALLY, after much agonizing, came up with the perfect performance name, set up this FB page, and then put together my website, www.graciousmemusic.com. I was a finalist in a songwriting contest for the first time, and at the related festival I performed one of my songs from memory for the first time! That got that particular monkey off my back, so I repeatedly challenged myself to keep stretching, going from a single memorized song, to a 15 minute set, to a 40-minute set. When I first signed up to play a 40-minute set from memory, I was only beginning to be able to play a 15-minute one, but there's nothing like impending embarrassment in front of a crowd to focus the faculties! smile emoticon I had a wonderful time getting to sing accompanied by two excellent musicians for the EP release show hosted by the great folks at the Epicure Cafe.
Paging through my songwriting journal, I was surprised to see that I wrote full drafts of 31 songs in 2015, along with numerous fragments and pages of ideas that may get turned into songs soon. I greatly expanded my songwriting tribe through getting to know and learn from SUCH talented folks at camps and seminars, as well as through going out and listening to live music as often as I could to support other musicians. I beat my goal of recording and putting out a CD by nearly a year by bringing alongside me fabulous instrumentalists and a great producer who could bring my vision to fruition. I had no idea what I was doing for marketing, but I've gotten airplay on numerous internet radio stations and shows, sold a few CDs via CD Baby and a few more in person, and gained the confidence that comes with having other people hear excellently recorded versions of my songs and say "Hey, these are really good!"
I've been making all the mistakes and feints and stumbles that anyone beginning something new will make. I learned a lot from all the performances I did this year, and plenty of what I learned was simply that I'm not anywhere near where I want to be. I have been wallowing in the period of a creative effort that Ari Shapiro describes as the time when your taste far surpasses your skills, so I am painfully aware of my weaknesses as I try to work past them to align my output with my imagination. It's been delightful, though, to savor the milestones and to experience the encouragement of so many people who have caught the vision of doing something new just to see where it takes me, and I'm so appreciative for their support. I am especially thankful to all the people who have provided me with opportunities to play, I've learned from every experience and, I hope, provided some entertainment along the way. I am beyond excited to see what 2016 has in store! I'm beginning lessons focused on specific singer-songwriter skills on the guitar, I'm lining up attending some camps and seminars to keep learning, and I'm working hard on reaching out to performing opportunities to keep myself motivated. Many thanks to you for keeping up with the journey, and may we all have a healthy, positive, creative, and energetic 2016!