Welcome to the most uncomfortable world in my personal universe: the world of imperfect completion.
It’s nothing like the world where I feel safest: on stage, performing live, incorporating anything unexpected into the performance itself, bouncing off glitches, having fun with technical problems.
If you were at my sold-out “Lose Your Blues” show or the livestream on Jan. 26th you know what I mean. I walked onto stage, played my first note and … had no sound. I’d been playing up a storm in sound-check – nothing had changed … but there was no sound.
Aside from finding a solution — which took a good 10 minutes, it almost immediately turned into an opportunity: a moment you can’t plan, but that you can share.
I switched into Q&A mode, asked the audience for questions, and answered them, basically getting to be my own opening act.
So that audience ended up knowing way more about me and my background before that show started than any other audience has – and it was a real moment (or 10) that we shared, and that we got to share only because everything wasn’t going perfectly.
As much as I work to train and prepare for shows, I love those moments. The unexpected. The imperfect. The window into a unique, unexpected shared experience.
I love those!!!
But not on a recording.
And this is a huge problem for me. And the reason why I haven’t released any new recordings since my live Invention & Alchemy project almost 7 years ago.
This is my big challenge. My personal struggle. To release my own imperfect work — and of course, all my work is imperfect!
But over the years I’ve gotten more and more sensitive to this – in recording, while in some ways less and less sensitive to it on the live stage.
So I’m having to force myself to release my recorded work. I swear, it’s like having to drink cod liver oil, which, yes, my grandmother made me drink! To do it I have to come up with tricks and plans and strategies to make myself do it.
My new operations manager, James, came up with a halfway house for me, a way to post my works-in-progress where people on my enews-list can listen to them, but where they’re not downloadable or sharable, and where I can remove them if necessary.
It’s like getting to invite people to my house and saying: “Hey, can I play something for you? This is something I’m working on and I’d love to see what you think of the basic idea.”
James helped me build that safe-room for experimentation and the essential private sharing that’s part of developing new work. We do it via SoundCloud where I can post the files, set them to be private, nonsharable, nondownloable – and then embed them in blogs where I can explain what I’m trying to do and what kind of feedback I’d like and what kind of feedback the project isn’t ready for.
And I really do make those work-in-progress recordings specifically for the people on my e-list – and because I send an e-newsletter once a week, I have a deadline for making those recordings – and when I do, they’ve helped me take one more step on the road to imperfect completion.
And for that, I’m so grateful.
(Even though it’s soooooooo uncomfortable!)