One of my current projects is writing the music and lyrics for a new show. The producer has decreed that in exchange for the privilege of my being paid in gumballs, delivery of a complete first draft is expected in about ten minutes – and I started in March. Impossible? Yes. Happening anyway? Of course. But right now I’m temporarily stuck, and in a great big lady panic over it.
The great thing about being what they call an up-and-coming composer is that you can be bought – cheap. Let me clarify: this is a great thing if you happen to be a producer, but maybe not so much if you are you. (Or me.) Still, I’ve been around way too long to buy into the idea that the people finding/spending the money to make art happen are the enemy. Making the actual art hurts and it’s hard and it sucks and it blows. Work, they call it. I’m lucky to have it, and I know that. It only sounds like I’m complaining because this is a blog, and that is apparently what blogs like to do.
And get this: whenever I talk to my dad on the phone, and he mentions something about my perseverance (as if I have a choice – I nailed that coffin shut long ago), or expresses the hope that my “big break” arrives sometime soon, I find myself actually getting a little defensive. “I’m a full-time musician in New York City; that’s a pretty big break right there,” goes one of my sample pitches. But it’s true. I may not have my beach house yet (and by the time I do, I hope I don’t have to buy one with the ramps already installed), but I do work regularly, and usually on challenging, interesting and rewarding projects. Including this one. My collaborator is a hoot, and our Skype sessions are the stuff of future legend. And that producer? A real-live, nice guy, whom I genuinely like.
Things could be worse (and have been [and will]). So when I get frustrated after Day 3 of staring at a blank piece of manuscript paper, or panicked about a looming deadline, or fed up with fielding inane suggestions from my cats (like they even know theory), all I have to do is picture Little Baby Michael Holland, whom I’m told I resemble, and who once dreamed of moving to New York, to “do music.” And now he gets to.
Thanks for the gumball, Mickey.*
*not his real name