How do you become a writer?
The tough questions I've been asked. And my answer, not just mine but many others agree, is easy: bands make music, and writers write. That simple.
* You want to be a band: grab some friends and bash away until it works. You want to write: all you need is pen and paper. So what stops us (even me sometimes)? I guess the half-asked question wasn't really honest... what we really want to know is:
How do we become a money-making band? How do we make money as a writer?
That answer is hazier. I'm still not sure, though I'm looking - Maybe I'll write the answer in a post if I ever find out, let you guys know.
Most writers and musicians who are successful have a unique voice, perspective, to set themselves apart. Being, or doing something new can you get buzz. I think that's a great, but the flip-side is that all the buzz building won't do any good if the substance is weak. You can get everybody's attention: perfect. Now what are you going to do with it? You have to have meaning. Something to give to your audience. I find that heavy buzzed often comes with light substance. Maybe that's what some people feel is lacking from big selling music.
A prospective, a plot, an opinion, anything, but it has to be something you believe in. Conviction is real inspiration. To feel something deeply. Maybe that's what tragedy gives. It's a fire. A burning understanding. The work burns away pain. The more you give to it, the more the fire will take. Let the flame take it all away. Give to it completely, be completely transformed, and it will give back something new.
The questions of success may never be answered. There is only you and the words. The thoughts you have incubated. The life you carry waiting to be heard, to be read, to escape.
I have grieved. Am grieving. And with every song try to burn more of that away. I sing about the places I knew, and my trying to re-build. That was Shakedown. The match being lit. That is writing. Audiences are fickle, fame and money are a delusion. Writing can be real if you let it.
It took me a long time to be comfortable with being a writer. Saying it. I always wanted to see one of my poems in print, but I've learned that being printed doesn't make writer. Being recognized doesn't either, by news or people.
The words, the work, that gives me the title. It gives me everything I need. No one else can. No record deal. No publishing company. Let everything else burn away. Sure, I take the opportunities that come, work them hard. Unafraid to chase, to game, put myself on the line, but never need it. Never depend on it. Never make it the purpose, or else substance will fail. And empty words, quick words, never last.
PS. this is a special post. the reason: 11/13/13 Ulysses R. Villanueva
For you are all-things
All around the fire light, the feel pound
giving us freak ambition, feverish pulse.
All around, in every body, hidden sounds
flash morning. Your little light. Your lighting form.
Do you know what's waiting?
Who made you your crucible?
Can you see the hammer dreams the anvil?
The time of fire is gone, let the bell ring all
bouncing against my own forgotten tones.
The signal, the warning, a beautiful song.
* Image: http://houselist.bowerypresents.com/files/2010/08/hacienda-25-495x330.jpg