It’s been a little over a year since I’ve played even 5 minutes of trumpet. After 17 years of focused playing, I was silenced by serious chest pain due to inflamed cartilage brought on by who the hell knows what—most likely a combination of several factors. I still have some pain, but I believe it’s getting better as time goes on—if not just more bearable.
I hesitate to even put this up on here, due to my own standards of performance, but I wanted to share the experience. Tonight I picked up my dusty old horn and gave it a blow. By no means am I ready to start playing a lot, but here is audio evidence that folks will hear me play again. Be it another year or however long it takes, I’ll get back what I had and more—you heard it from me.
You turn off your inner critic. You do not listen to your inner police force. You ignore the little voices that tell you that it’s all stupid, and you keep going.
Your grade isn’t suffering because your writing is bad, it’s suffering because you aren’t finishing things and handing them in.
So, finish them and hand them in. Even if a story’s lousy, you’ll learn something from it that will be useful as a writer, even if it’s just “don’t do that again”.
You’re always going to be dissatisfied with what you write. That’s part of being human. In our heads, stories are perfect, flawless, glittering, magical. Then we start to put them down on paper, one unsatisfactory word at a time. And our inner critics tell us that it’s a rotten idea and we should abandon it.
If you’re going to write, ignore your inner critic, while you’re writing. Do whatever you can to finish. Know that anything can be fixed later.
Remember: you don’t have to brilliant when you start out. You just have to write. Every story you finish puts you closer to being a writer, and makes you a better writer.
Blaming “Writer’s Block” is wonderful. It removes any responsibility from the person with the “block”. It gives you something to blame, and it sounds fancy.
But it’s probably more honest to think of it as a combination of laziness, perfectionism and Getting Stuck. If you’re being lazy, don’t be. If you’re being a perfectionist, don’t be. And if you’re stuck, figure out where the story went off the rails, or what you got wrong, or where you need to go deeper, or what you need to add to make it work, and then start writing again.
”— Neil Gaiman on how to get past writer’s block. (via yearoftheedit)
Here’s a little sneak peek of a project I’ve been working on. I’m still working out some ideas for it, but I figured I’d share a little bit.
As time goes on I find myself missing dear friends that I haven’t had the chance to see for a while. Paths diverge, life necessitates change, but shared experience accounts for more than just memories.
So without getting any sappier, I’ll leave it at that.
“Letter to an old friend”
ps. I recorded the whole project using the internal mic on my ipod touch and the garageband app. Best $5 I’ve spent in a little while.
See that false burrito. See it swaddled in tinfoil on the desk in the bowels of that great tower, a bundle of meat and sauce in a place long ago ceded to silicone and copper. The stooped man eating that peasant food as if in consuming it he can escape to a farmfield in a verdant valley and look down and see blood running from his blisters and say, yes this is work. This is work. Instead his hands are clawlike and ruined by the keyboard and the mouse for he is a thing of bone and sinew in a sprawling contraption electric and of man’s creation but not of man at all. And were he to saw his breast open with that plastic knife and soak the carpet black with his hot blood and were he to look ceilingward like some stigmatic enraptured and with the bellows of his lungs let forth a soaring wail in that subbasement his screams would be swallowed by the acoustic panels and repulsed by the good steel door as if he had made no sound and spilled no blood at all.