"Do the best you can until you know better.
Then when you know better, do better.”
As I write this I have to resist the urge to slap my hand to my forehead. Come on, we're already here at 26 weeks, halfway through a year-long project of recording music. I’ve been very careful about walking this out one step at a time, so as not to get overwhelmed, but I feel comfortable enough with taking a step back at this halfway point to find my perspective again. If you know me, you know I have a hard time finishing what I start. And an even harder time with deadlines and time limits. I like the big picture, an idea and a goal to accomplish, so I’ve always struggled with the day to day of walking a project out.
I remember chewing my bottom lip anxiously wondering whether or not I should really try to commit to something like weekly recordings, not only because I wasn’t good at following through but also because I had no experience recording anything. I asked myself over and over again if I really believed I was made for music, if I really wanted to give singing the full spotlight it deserved and risk any kind of failure. I really thought if I tried to be a singer and failed then I would lose music.
Well, okay, I admit that was a little dramatic. I know better now, that I can’t actually lose music unless I give it up (and that’s really not in my plan, you know?). I’d love to go back to October and give silly, sweet Past Greta a big hug and reassure her that everything really is going to be okay. I’d tell her it was the right decision. And I’d thank her because she had the courage to take the steps that led to where I am right now.
Although I still feel like a producing baby, I've learned so many things that I didn't even know I needed to know. If you're just joining us and have no idea what I'm talking about, head on back to my first couple of weeks and you'll understand what I'm talking about. My first tracks are served with a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ because I really had no clue what I was doing. I remember scratching my head during those first couple of weeks, sitting in my bedroom (where I was recording at the time...incredible) and shrugging. I pressed POST with a "yeah that sounds good, I guess..." and I’m smiling now because I can't do that anymore. I can't just sing and post with a shrug, and I think that’s a really good place to be at the halfway point. As my ear slowly gets better, I spend more time working with mixes and different recording setups and as a result my tracks are growing bigger, deeper, more complex. They take longer, but with that complexity comes a deeper fondness for the songs I'm working on. I keep thinking about something C.S. Lewis said, about how reading children’s stories as an adult is unique because you “put more into them, and as a result you get more out of them”. I think music is the same way; the more you have experienced, the more you naturally put into what you’re working on, the more you get out of the finished product.
I’ve sufficiently shocked myself with my willingness to go back and listen to my first tracks with a laugh. Whenever I performed in any musical theater productions, I refused to watch any DVDs of my performances, simply because I didn't like the feeling that I could have or should have done anything differently. I’ve since learned not to take myself or this project quite so seriously. Even though I have a better program, better equipment, and a better ear than when I started, I love that I’m still feeling my way through the process day by day, week by week, mix by mix.
Still though, I feel better. Do I sound better? Are my mixes better? Is my voice better? I'm really asking. These are the questions I ask my family every week (sometimes every day…sorry, Eva). Because this project has rules for me (one song every week), I've had to learn how to let go of songs that are not perfect or ready to post, that may not be good enough for my standards, with the understanding that “sure, this may not be perfect but next week will be better." Every week I post a song with that assumption: next week will be better. I think that's a really hard lesson to learn, especially if you, like me, have incredibly high personal standards. It’s tempting to hold on to something until it’s perfect just so that no one sees the unfinished, unpolished parts of who we are. That kind of connection is scary, sometimes embarrassing. But I think we as humans crave connection on that kind of level, and that's why I've found myself loving digging my hands into the dirt of this project and pulling out all kinds of rocks to show you guys. They're not all pretty, but they're all a piece of my workflow.
Besides. I feel like if you never really let your project go, it can never be the step it was supposed to be. It's been such a blast to make music for you, here's to another bright 26 weeks!