I love concerts a lot.
For a pair of tickets to see a performer I really admire, I'd gladly give up
Last Saturday I had the pleasure of seeing Brandi Carlile live for the first time. I've attended hundreds of concerts in my 38 years on the planet, so you know it's a big deal when I say this one made my top five list.
Brandi charmed me not only with her passion and musical talent, but with the stories she told between songs. Stories about struggling to make it as an artist. About the roller coaster of creative successes and failures. About what it's like to perform at outdoor venues in the summertime and finally, finally be the one standing onstage when the sun goes down.
I wish I'd written down the precise words she spoke about the things people are willing to give up to chase their dreams, but I was too busy
But it struck a chord with me anyway. And it got me thinking about how many artists have that thread running through their words. Shawn Mullins is another one of my favorite performers, and though he's from the South, I've had the pleasure of seeing him several times in Oregon. He often opens with a song titled, "Twin Rocks, Oregon" about a chance meeting with a transient man offering a unique perspective on life.
The lyrics that always sock me in the gut are these ones:
I told him I, too, had been travelin' aroundI've thought more than once about having those last few words tattooed on my arm, particularly during the post-divorce struggles of this past year.
Living out of my van from town to town
Playing for tips and whatever records I could move
I said, "I don't reckon I'll be making it big
It's hard to get rich off a tour of coffeehouse gigs."
He said, "yeah, but ain't it a blessin' to do what you wanna do?"
I make it a policy not to share specifics of money when it comes to my life as an author, but I don't think it will surprise you to learn I don't travel around on book tour in a pink Leer jet with shirtless male flight attendants
In the years before I had a book deal, I worked full-time in marketing & communications earning surprisingly good money. I was laid off just weeks before my agent landed me my three-book romantic comedy deal with Sourcebooks, and when I went job-hunting after that, I opted to find a part-time job that allowed me more time for writing.
The pay cut stung, and it stung a lot harder when I suddenly found myself single with a mortgage to pay. Over and over, I asked myself if I'd be smart to swap those extra writing days for the paycheck of a full-time job.
That might have been the smart thing to do, but it wasn't what I chose. Even though I knew it meant a lot of life changes – taking in housemates to pay the mortgage, eventually selling the house – I was willing to make sacrifices to give myself the time I knew I needed to pursue this writing career as wholeheartedly as I could.
Will that choice pay off?
If you mean will I eventually acquire that pink Leer jet with shirtless male flight attendants
But that was never the payoff I expected anyway.
The thing I want most from my writing career is to wake up every morning knowing I'm doing what I want to do. Maybe not every moment of the day, and Lord knows there have been moments I wanted to stuff my laptop in the neighbor's septic tank and set fire to it.
But certainly I spend the bulk of my waking hours thinking I'm damn lucky to have the opportunities I've been given as an author. The fact that I've made a few sacrifices to achieve that only serves as a reminder how much I truly want to spend my time doing what I've chosen to do.
What are your thoughts on the subject? What struggles and sacrifices are you willing to endure to reach your goals? Please share.
I'll be over here