Long before I decided to call myself a writer, I was a choir geek. Still am, though the focus of my energy has shifted. Other than my weekend church cantor gig and the occasional guest spot at a wedding or a funeral, I’m all about writing, and while you can take the girl out of the choir, you can’t entirely take the choir out of the girl.
Even so, I want to point out a couple cultural differences I see between music and writing. Now, I’m going to make a generalization here, keeping in mind that my husband and my closest friends are all musicians. I don’t mean to insult anyone, but of the two groups, I find writers to be way more inclusive.
There. I said it.
In music, you audition. For the band or the choir or the solo. In writing, you submit. To agents, or editors, or whoever. In music, if you don’t get the gig you want, you can always do your own thing and put your creation up on YouTube. In writing, if you don’t get the gig you want, you can now self-publish and put your stuff up on Amazon. In both worlds, networking is as important as learning your craft.
Despite these similarities, writers seem to have adopted an attitude of “we’re all in this together” that is different from what I experienced as a musician. In the last month, I made a run at a couple of pitch contests – Pitch Madness and GUTGAA (Gearing Up To Get An Agent) – and while neither has (so far) resulted in a contract, I still consider them both to be great experiences. You know why? I saw old friends and made new ones, right here on the internet. There was a sense of camaraderie, of supporting each other, even though we were competing for the same thing.
And my memories of similar audition situations in the world of music? Shuttered faces, nerves, condolences, and did I mention nerves? People getting asked to participate in things on the down low, while the rest are left wondering “why not me?” I’m probably just splatting my own baggage across the internet, but when you’ve got twenty women trying for ONE solo spot, there are going to be hurt feelings, and possibly some catty whispering whenever the Diva leaves the room.
I’m sure writers would never behave like that.
Well, actually, we’re all human, and so probably, if I knew where to look, I’d find bad behavior in the writing world, too. To an extent I’m protected by the distance created by participating on-line instead of in person. (I was going to type “in real life” but the internet is real life, with more space involved.) The voice is such an integral part of who I am that whenever I audition for something and don’t get it, I feel the rejection is about me, personally, physically, and not the sound I can create. When I’m writing, it’s all about the editing, so if someone doesn’t like a particular combination of words, I simply rearrange them. And if one agent doesn’t like my query, I send it to someone else. And instead of worrying about what’s wrong with me and constantly battling nerves, I have people cheering me on just because I showed up. Instead of everyone aiming for ONE spot in a choir or band or show, there’s a sense that EVERYONE can have a place or a contract or an Amazon author’s page.
I truly hope we all reach the goals we’re aiming for.
To an extent the title of this post is a lie, because there are clearly things I want that I haven’t got. Yet. But honestly, I wouldn’t trade my experiences – both as a musician and a writer – and the community of writers that I’ve found, for anything. You guys rock. Thanks for making this ride so much fun!
…and since I stole the title from a Sinead O’Connor album, I’m finishing off with her video for the song Mandinka. It’s not technically from that album, but it’s my favorite Sinead song (and haven’t we all heard Nothing Compares To U once or twice already?).