I walked away.
There was a time when I was deep in it. Playing solo shows every month, playing out a couple times a week. Writing, learning, staying out late for the Rockwood hang.
And then the well dried up. Whatever was driving me, whatever need I had to make something of my musical career to validate myself - just up and disappeared. And with it my writing.
I kept trying for a while. Kept doing shows, trying on new faces on the same old characters - Something Beautiful with solo upright bass, Maybe with a Brasilian feel, We Ride on the guitar... That kept me going for a year or two. Then I got bit by the improvisational bug: I wanted to create totally new musical moments every time I got on stage. That turned out to have some real power to it.
It lasted me another year.
But ultimately, I was just racing against time. Something that used to be there - the passion, driven mostly by fear of obscurity, that propelled me through my 20's - just wasn't there anymore. And under it, I found something that had always been there.
Uncertainty. The questions I'd been asking myself for so long about who I was musically, what I should be doing, what I could be doing, and how I should do it. What am I thinking? Is this any good? What's the point? And without the drive, those questions were all that was left. Those questions became crippling, and so I walked away.
It's been about a year since I played a set of my own stuff, about two since I did it for my own fans, and about five since I wrote anything new.
It's funny what happens when you stop doing something for a while. Your skills get worse, while your taste gets better. The longer you've been away, the harder it is when you finally sit down in the studio again.
And that's what it's been like these past few months. Because I want to come back. Desperately. There's still passion in me, there's still a voice in me; it's just different. It's not as urgent as it once was, but I can still hear it asking: "hey, what about me?"
The thing is - I have no idea what to do next. I've been messing around with making beats again, I've reached out to a talented composer friend about working together, I even wrote and recorded a proposal song none of you will ever hear. And all of it's been decent. There are traces of the magic I used to be able to find, but it's all buried under that uncertainty.
You know, I used to have a lot of time. Just endless swaths of time in my mid-late 20's - I organized my entire life around the principle of having as much time to myself as possible. And given enough time, obstacles like uncertainty, self-doubt, constant inner questioning... well, you just keep working until you make something great anyway. You can spend days on chorus harmonies, hours on a single line.
But that life was impossible. Live like that for too long, and you end up lonely, broke, and depressed. So I walked away from that too.
So what now? The thing is, I still have plenty of time. Just none to waste. And I don't know how to use it. There's that uncertainty again - what should I be doing? Practicing? Playing out? Writing with other people? Making beats? Recording and releasing stuff? What kind of stuff? How will I know when it's ready?
Sometime in the past few years, I walked away. How do I get back?