This is what's in the back of my mind now: what to do next?
I have every option open to me.
I feel that way.
But there is only one good step to take I feel.
Trial and error has certainly been my modus operandi.
I have been telling people lately that in my case I'm not the artist who insisted on never having a Plan B, I'm the artist who has done every conceivable Plan B and only has Plan A left to do.
I have avoided Plan A all my life.
Among other pursuits, I was a designer on HGTV for five years.
Did you know that?
My house was on the cover of Better Homes And Gardens magazine and there was an eight page spread about me and my artistry as a young mother with a big old house and a lot of creativity.
I had sewn all the curtains, and done all the decorating and gardening.
The article said that I was a songwriter and prose writer too.
The decorating was something people loved to pay me to do.
The more I didn't really want to do it, the more money they threw at me.
I could make $120 an hour, for hour after hour, helping young suburbanites with massive new homes try to feel cozy...and cool..in their houses.
It was sort of fun.
But most of the time was spent giving them pep talks about their marriages and their habits and their own creativity.
I'd say, "Look, you two should have fun going to the furniture store and picking out a cool sofa. You have the money, the time. It's a privilege to be able to furnish your home this way. It isn't about what someone's mother likes, what the neighbors just bought. It's just for you. Pick out what makes you happy."
Of course there were a million pitfalls.
The husband who couldn't abide floral prints...because he was afraid of what that might say about his sexuality...or something.
The wife who wanted only the most expensive one with the huge price tag because the designer name made her feel confident in her choice...but honestly it was dumb to get that one because it wrecked the budget we had agreed to and there was another one just as nice for half the cost.
I saw the troubles of marriages in the modern First World.
I was in a troubled marriage in the First World myself at the time.
What would have made all the teeth gnashing vanish and love blossom?
Humility and gratitude.
Humility and gratitude were always in short supply.
If you were hiring me to fix up your house, then you had little faith in yourselves as a couple to create a cozy and loving home that expressed your values, your aesthetics, your joy.
If you were hiring me you were successful enough to be making a good salary so you thought you needed to have a good looking house.
But somewhere along your way you had been taught that you didn't know how to buy your own goddamn sofa.
With humility you could go to the furniture store and humbly choose one that you both could love and you'd treat each other tenderly and you'd compromise, and your goal would be to please each other and to remember that each of you was having a very rare experience of getting to pick out their very own sofa.
Humility and tenderness would go hand in hand to the furniture store.
Gratitude would negate the fear of getting the wrong one.
Whatever one you chose would be so wonderful because you'd be grateful for it.
Gratitude dispels all fear.
To be fair, I was brought up by my mother and my grandmothers and my aunts, all of whom worked professionally in clothing design, interior design, and singing and musicianship.
These women were all over all of it.
I come from confident competent women.
The people who hired me to decorate often told me stories of discouragements in their creative efforts.
Sometimes they came from backgrounds that they thought were devoid of creativity or beauty.
These people often told me that they weren't creative.
Every human is creative, that's all there is to it.
If you have your faculties in tact, then you can use your heart and your brain to tap into the creative mindset of The Universe and get your groove on.
You can and I can.
If you've never decorated a room before it can be tricky, and in this sense I think the hiring of designers and decorators is great.
But to live in rooms set up by someone else only because you think you aren't creative enough to pick out curtains or blinds or whatever is dumb.
We really don't need to all have the current fashion of this year on our backs or in our homes.
We can have clothes and furniture that reflect where we've been and how long we've been around.
Anyway, I know about this kind of stuff.
And I don't mind exercising these parts of my creativity from time to time but this is not my way forward now.
Which leads me back to, what am I supposed to do next?
I have an idea that this blog posting that I'm doing every morning is some kind of work that's leading my creativity somewhere new.
To reveal these bits of my past in these posts is something new I'm exploring.
To talk about some metaphysical ideas about miracles and such is also somewhat new for me.
There's nothing I look forward to more than writing these posts right now.
I wake up and think, "Oh boy, what am I going to write about?"
When I work on linear prose manuscripts which I've done several times now, to varying degrees of success, (and of course, with one of these a published piece now) I get a bit more bogged down by the finish line mentality.
These posts are great for me because there's no one paying me to do this, I publish them immediately so I get feedback in the same day, and I can make them any length I want...without apology...however short or long.
Writing is great for me because I can do it anywhere and it's a silent pursuit so it doesn't affect anyone around me and it takes almost no effort for me.
Writing these blog posts is just like drinking a glass of clean clear water.
And you, dear reader, are not held captive.
You have to seek this out to read it and it certainly is not being trumpeted in your face.
But I don't yet know how to monetize this type of effortless writing for my survival.
Maybe it isn't possible.
Maybe it will become clear to me soon.
The man who started the photo blog The Sartorialist used to be one of my favorite success stories (until he became seemingly to me a pompous bore).
He took street style photos every day and posted them and made it all extremely high quality and fabulous in a way that no one else was achieving and he became rich and famous for it.
Anything is possible if you do something well that is rare.
Writing this series of meandering personal essays is what it is.
I can't judge it or improve it, I can only do it.
There are people every day who tell me they enjoy reading it.
But what of the singing and the songwriting and the touring?
I am tired from it right now.
This is why December has to be a month of miracles.
I have very little money coming in for this month, but I have time.
Time is precious.
Time is God.
If you are silent and patient Time is your friend.
I am going tonight to a silent meditation practice at a Lutheran church in Minneapolis, not far from our home.
It's being lead by a woman I consider to be a good friend and a great mind.
They're serving soup but there's no talking.
I guess that's how it goes.
I've never been to such a thing but it sounds quite perfect for my strange silent month of December and it's free.
More notably, it is being held at the exact time that I would have been performing my weekly residency for little or no pay.
This is being held at the same time, and for no cost to me I can do something new and enriching and soul discovering.
Singing is that for me too, when the conditions are good.
But the seeds of song can no longer be strewn without care onto unprepared soil.
I can't stand around singing the songs for people who think the songs are not to be listened to but are meant to be a white noise backdrop to their meal or their drinking, just an extra element to help dispel their discomfort with intimate interaction.
I am not going to participate in that part of our culture.
Put the music on and then be less awkward because the music takes the pressure off you to connect with undivided attention.
Put the music on and you are half in and half out and everybody's cool with that.
Count me out.
So the punchline of this post might be that I don't have my heart in booking more shows.
I don't feel lead as I've seen some religious people say.
I feel like the booking and the applying is another part of the rat race of monetizing a low acclaim folk rock music career.
If you don't have enough acclaim, people are not begging to hear you play.
If they aren't begging, then they could take it or leave it.
Then they aren't going to pay you very much to do it.
And there are many more humans clamoring for those paying spots.
This is where the feelings of scarcity arise.
This is where the scratching and clawing, the looking over one's shoulder, the competitive mindset sets in.
You can see it on the websites of these concert series, radio shows, festivals that I am thinking I should be applying to now.
The websites have these self important gate keeper phrases sprinkled throughout, phrases like, "we don't have time to respond to every one of the thousand of inquiries we receive".
Or the "please don't contact us more than once, by email only, and please do not call our office to follow up about your submission. If we want you you'll hear from us in the coming weeks."
Okay, well clearly, these people realize that Bob Dylan is not going to be writing them an email to ask to play.
And they know that they will be hearing from a whole bunch of people hoping to be the next Bob Dylan in a long line of next Bob Dylan's.
I am taking a different path now.
I am veering off the path of worldly scrambling and I'm stepping up onto the high road of spiritual rebirth.
Do you suffer and wilt and die on this path?
I don't know yet.
But after those last shows I did, driving all over tarnation for little pay, I wonder.
Two years ago when I washed dishes for the cheesecake bakery to make some Christmas money, I earned about $350 total.
The show I played last Saturday night gave me $420 total in one evening and the audience was appreciative.
I was invited to play that show by the booking person who had seen me play live at another place and liked me enough to ask me to perform at her venue.
That is serendipity.
Is serendipity too much to ask?
Day in and day out?
I don't know, but I'm trying it for the month of December.
I'm going to the meditation evenings on Tuesdays.
I'm going to church choir on Wednesdays and Sundays.
I'm meeting with some friends and some fellow songwriters, some of whom are paying me to consult about their newest works.
I don't know where this month will lead me.
I don't know what will happen.
I have an excellent invitation mid month to put on a private performance for some wonderful fans in their festively decorated and heated barn.
I have another wonderful house concert in January.
I have a series of shows up North in February.
I have a plan for several shows in Europe in August and September.
I want to be wanted, or I want to stay home.
Thank you for your continued support.
Love and Gratitude.