To be someone else for a day
365 days of writing, prompt: if you could be someone else for a day, who would it be?
If I could be someone else for a day, it would be my musical hero, Tori Amos. I know that many of you may think her weird, or strange, but she is out there doing her thing, and that’s why I would be her.
I saw a snippet of an interview about her most recent album (due out next month), and she said something that really got me to thinking. I won’t quote her, because I can’t find the interview on YouTube, but here is what she said, in summary. We are trained throughout our school years to turn in art for a grade. It is something that has to be judged and validated by our teacher, so perhaps we all take this mindset into creating art later in our lives.
Well, I will be the first to admit that I am always worried about what someone thinks of my writing. Several times, I have asked my husband to read and critique something I have written, after I have posted it. You may not be surprised that he usually has some thoughts on things I could have done differently, things that could be improved upon. He, without fail, compares my post to another blogger whom he really thinks is great. Well, “so and so” would have told more of a story than I did. Rather than just tell the facts, he would have told an in-depth and comprehensive story, and it would have been hilarious.
While I initially welcome the constructive criticism, I usually think, eventually, that it doesn’t matter what my husband thought of it. I most always write my posts in one sitting, review them, make obvious edits, and then hit “publish”. I always hope that someone likes what I have written, but in the end, I’m not that concerned over what I did wrong. It is my work, and I tried to do my best job, but all I am looking for, honestly, is validation. It’s not perfect?! Well, I wasn’t really going for perfection – I was going for the conclusion of the thought I was following, and the hope that someone can relate.
But why do I even want the validation? Afterall, I am submitting something that I feel worthy, else I would never publish it. There are plenty of new posts sitting in my draft queue, waiting for the day that the content might fit something that has struck my fancy. Of course I love when someone likes my posts or leaves a nice comment, but would I stop posting if no one responded? Hmmm. I guess I might.
But back to Tori Amos, I would be her because she is extremely talented. Not that she doesn’t work at it, because she does. “Sometimes you have to write so much to get so little that works.” She is a genius who can play most songs off the cuff, based on a request from a fan in the audience. But she can only do this because she works very hard at what she does.
Perhaps what I am envious most about her is her work ethic. She must practice, or at least play for her own enjoyment, for hours a day. Even if you are a virtuoso, you still must practice your instrument to keep it in top working order. Our hands, when unused, become tired and less able to remember what keys our fingers are supposed to play. When you practice enough, you know what notes go where, and your fingers remember the melody without your brain having to think about what comes next. But I would love to be able to experience what she feels when she sits down. Is she fully committed? Does she know what note comes next? Does she have to think about it like I do? Does she overthink it, or just let the notes come out, wrong ones and all?
I would love to be able to sit at the piano and play anything. I can play by ear, but I have to work at it, because I am usually out of practice. If I practiced every day, my brain would recognize the music, and know instantly whether a chord were a fourth, fifth, or seventh. My left hand would instantly know the correct progression of accompaniament for my right hand.
I know all this, and yet I do nothing to make it happen. For now, my focus is on my writing, which, as I think I’ve just stated, is in your hands to validate. Opposite to what Tori Amos would expect if she were putting it out there. Maybe this means that I am simply not that committed. I don’t know. But I will wait for the accollades (or cricket-chirping silence) that follow this post to see what grade I will get. I will surely measure my worth as an artist upon this feedback, because that is how I learned what is considered to be valuable art. I wish I could change my mindset about this, but I haven’t been at it for long enough. The feedback still matters. For now.