Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

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IcedNote
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Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by IcedNote » Thu Jun 16, 2016 6:35 pm

Thought I'd share this here since some of you might have a passing interest in my career. And I'm sure my previous thread makes a bit more sense now... ;)

http://garrettshatzer.com/2016/06/an-end-to-composing/
A different type of announcement today, one that’s troubled me for the past several months:

As soon as I’ve finished my two current commissions, I’m going to stop composing. Whether or not this will be a long break or something permanent, I truly don’t know.

I’m just so tired.

It’s difficult to say this. After all, Composer is a significant part of my identity. Composer is what I’ve been building toward since piano lessons. Composer is what I spent 14 years in universities trying to become. Composer is what I might be best at. Composer may very well be the most interesting thing about me.

But I don’t need to compose.

I’ve said this many times to many of you. I don’t have that burning desire to put notes on the page. I don’t feel like I’m going to burst if I don’t. It’s not My Calling. And for a while now I think the only reason I still put so much effort into composing is that I’ve found some success in it. That’s not a good enough reason anymore.

A story I like to tell dates to a few years ago when I impulsively bought a charcoal set. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and have never had a talent for the visual arts, but finishing those awful drawings (which are here on FB somewhere) gave me just as much satisfaction as finishing a piece of music. And in some cases they gave me more. I’ve had similar experiences with finishing poems. And what these non-musical artistic endeavors taught me about myself is that it’s not that I need to compose, it’s that I simply need to be creative. Cooking. Photography. Origami…? Anything, really. Who knows. But all I need is some type of creative outlet to be happy.

Composing is something I love, but it has become burdensome, and I refuse to allow that transformation to reach completion. It no longer feels like my favorite hobby; it feels like Work. I long – yearn! – for a time when I don’t have to work after getting home from work. I imagine all of the things I can do with that free time. I imagine all of the things I can choose not to do with that free time. To have my nights and weekends all to myself without any deadlines hanging over my head… There are so many other things I want to do in life, and composing consumes far too much of it. Yes, the rewards used to make those hours worth it. But no more.

Who’s to say that someday in the future I won’t want to compose again. But in order for me to truly reclaim myself, I need this to feel permanent. To be permanent. I emailed my current and [formerly] future collaborators this week informing them of my decision, and one used the word “hiatus” in her supportive and encouraging response. That shook me. It made me uneasy. But I’m glad she used that word, because it made me realize that a temporary leave of absence wasn’t enough for me. I need to say goodbye and move on.

Hopefully without sounding too sappy, I’d like to thank everyone who took this ride with me, especially the performers who drove the bus. Many of them are now my good friends. Thank you. And thank you to everyone who came out to hear my music or supported it in some other way. Thank you.

And with that, on to the next stage of my life…whatever that may be!
-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

diegobueno
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by diegobueno » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:31 pm

Do what you need to do, but only because it's something you need to do (or not do), not because of anything similar or dissimilar that The Great Composers did.

That being said, you could do as Paul Bowles did, and switch from composing to literary authorship mid-career.

Or not. It's all up to you.

IcedNote
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by IcedNote » Thu Jun 16, 2016 9:38 pm

Haha, I made this decision long before I thought about what the Greats did. Give me some credit -- I'm my own person, ya know. ;-)

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

jbuck919
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Jun 17, 2016 5:17 am

Garret, you know how I feel about this. Our common friend whose name I cannot mention also gave this up in a sense of futility. I'm not supposed to be saying these things in public, but here I am. I wish you the best. I am at your disposal at any time for friendship. Take care of yourself man.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

diegobueno
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by diegobueno » Fri Jun 17, 2016 8:08 am

IcedNote wrote:Haha, I made this decision long before I thought about what the Greats did. Give me some credit -- I'm my own person, ya know. ;-)

-G
That you are, and best of luck to you.

johnQpublic
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by johnQpublic » Fri Jun 17, 2016 8:26 am

Once again Garrett has caused me to come out of my CMG exile.

Your comment on not wanting to "work" after coming home from "work" is perfectly natural.

I composed quite frequently up to and including the first few years of marriage. I found it no problem to teach college by day and then compose at night. But once children entered our life, I had to increase income by playing more gigs, teaching more private students, etc. This meant not even to begin thinking about composing let alone actually do it. The end result was a 20 year period where few pieces were written and most were not that good.

But then something happened. Retirement. Now pieces flow from me nearly every day. Performances are picking up and it's fun, not work, to compose again.

So don't sweat it. There will be a time in the future when it will be a pleasure to write.
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maestrob
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by maestrob » Fri Jun 17, 2016 12:04 pm

Garrett:

When something no longer gives you satisfaction & joy, it is time to move on. You have made an intelligent decision here. BUT......don't rule out all of life's changes. Remember, the way to make God laugh is to tell Him your plans. If now you feel your done with it, let it be so. But don't try to predict the future. Leave that burden to the psychics :mrgreen: .

Good luck, and please stay around! :)

IcedNote
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by IcedNote » Fri Jun 17, 2016 12:06 pm

jbuck919 wrote:also gave this up in a sense of futility.
Your cynicism is so off the charts that I question if you're even aware of it. Good grief. Futility? Really? You know nothing, John B.* :roll:

-G

*Bonus points if any of you get that reference.
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by IcedNote » Fri Jun 17, 2016 12:11 pm

johnQpublic wrote:<stuff>
Thanks, Q! And glad to hear you're back at it. Is it too early for me to be envious of your retirement? :wink:

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by IcedNote » Fri Jun 17, 2016 12:15 pm

maestrob wrote:<stuff>
Thanks, B! I'm sure the door will never be locked, and I'll welcome the urge whenever/if-ever it returns. :)

But for now I'm happy, and that's all that matters.

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

jbuck919
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:02 pm

IcedNote wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:also gave this up in a sense of futility.
Your cynicism is so off the charts that I question if you're even aware of it. Good grief. Futility? Really? You know nothing, John B.* :roll:

-G

*Bonus points if any of you get that reference.
There could be no reference to anything you said, unless you mean Socrates as a character in Plato. I thought I was offering you a supportive post. Instead you turned around and loved the response from someone who never posts here anymore. You have decided to give up composing. I understand and support that It cannot be easy to make such a decision. The last thing you need is encouragement to take it up again from a laughable nobody who "came out of retirement" just to respond to your post.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

diegobueno
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by diegobueno » Fri Jun 17, 2016 6:48 pm

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!

Lance
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by Lance » Fri Jun 17, 2016 8:41 pm

Congratulations on making a difficult choice, Garrett. You already SOUND much happier, however, I get an inner feeling that one day you will return to the task of composing when you are good and ready. Perhaps you just need a long rest and become involved with all the exigencies of life itself. We hope your musical interests will continue to show here on CMG. I wish you the very best in your future endeavors.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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slofstra
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by slofstra » Sat Jun 18, 2016 9:51 am

IcedNote wrote:Thought I'd share this here since some of you might have a passing interest in my career. And I'm sure my previous thread makes a bit more sense now... ;)

http://garrettshatzer.com/2016/06/an-end-to-composing/
A different type of announcement today, one that’s troubled me for the past several months:

As soon as I’ve finished my two current commissions, I’m going to stop composing. Whether or not this will be a long break or something permanent, I truly don’t know.

I’m just so tired.

It’s difficult to say this. After all, Composer is a significant part of my identity. Composer is what I’ve been building toward since piano lessons. Composer is what I spent 14 years in universities trying to become. Composer is what I might be best at. Composer may very well be the most interesting thing about me.

But I don’t need to compose.

I’ve said this many times to many of you. I don’t have that burning desire to put notes on the page. I don’t feel like I’m going to burst if I don’t. It’s not My Calling. And for a while now I think the only reason I still put so much effort into composing is that I’ve found some success in it. That’s not a good enough reason anymore.

A story I like to tell dates to a few years ago when I impulsively bought a charcoal set. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and have never had a talent for the visual arts, but finishing those awful drawings (which are here on FB somewhere) gave me just as much satisfaction as finishing a piece of music. And in some cases they gave me more. I’ve had similar experiences with finishing poems. And what these non-musical artistic endeavors taught me about myself is that it’s not that I need to compose, it’s that I simply need to be creative. Cooking. Photography. Origami…? Anything, really. Who knows. But all I need is some type of creative outlet to be happy.

Composing is something I love, but it has become burdensome, and I refuse to allow that transformation to reach completion. It no longer feels like my favorite hobby; it feels like Work. I long – yearn! – for a time when I don’t have to work after getting home from work. I imagine all of the things I can do with that free time. I imagine all of the things I can choose not to do with that free time. To have my nights and weekends all to myself without any deadlines hanging over my head… There are so many other things I want to do in life, and composing consumes far too much of it. Yes, the rewards used to make those hours worth it. But no more.

Who’s to say that someday in the future I won’t want to compose again. But in order for me to truly reclaim myself, I need this to feel permanent. To be permanent. I emailed my current and [formerly] future collaborators this week informing them of my decision, and one used the word “hiatus” in her supportive and encouraging response. That shook me. It made me uneasy. But I’m glad she used that word, because it made me realize that a temporary leave of absence wasn’t enough for me. I need to say goodbye and move on.

Hopefully without sounding too sappy, I’d like to thank everyone who took this ride with me, especially the performers who drove the bus. Many of them are now my good friends. Thank you. And thank you to everyone who came out to hear my music or supported it in some other way. Thank you.

And with that, on to the next stage of my life…whatever that may be!
-G
Garrett, I have a question. Do you play an instrument?

IcedNote
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by IcedNote » Sat Jun 18, 2016 1:37 pm

jbuck919 wrote:There could be no reference to anything you said, unless you mean Socrates as a character in Plato. I thought I was offering you a supportive post. Instead you turned around and loved the response from someone who never posts here anymore. You have decided to give up composing. I understand and support that It cannot be easy to make such a decision. The last thing you need is encouragement to take it up again from a laughable nobody who "came out of retirement" just to respond to your post.
I have no idea what any of that means. But I will say it was a reference to Game of Thrones.

And FYI, Mr. Q and I have had email exchanges and have shared music with each other. You know what they say about assuming... :roll:

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by IcedNote » Sat Jun 18, 2016 1:39 pm

Lance wrote:<green stuff>
Thanks, Lance! You're absolutely right that I'm happier already. And sure, the door is open for me to return. But that's not how I'm going to approach it. We'll see where the cards fall. :)

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by IcedNote » Sat Jun 18, 2016 1:42 pm

slofstra wrote:Garrett, I have a question. Do you play an instrument?
I do! Studied both piano and guitar for years. I've kept both up, although I'm not going to mislead you into thinking I'm "performance-ready" on either. But I can still play both well enough to read through difficult music and still have it sound...musical. :mrgreen:

I think my first order of business will be to return to jazz guitar. Even this week I cleaned mine up and put new strings on it. (I have a custom 7-string from a boutique luthier that's itching to be used more!)

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by karlhenning » Sun Jun 19, 2016 5:37 am

IcedNote wrote:
slofstra wrote:Garrett, I have a question. Do you play an instrument?
I do! Studied both piano and guitar for years. I've kept both up, although I'm not going to mislead you into thinking I'm "performance-ready" on either. But I can still play both well enough to read through difficult music and still have it sound...musical. :mrgreen:

I think my first order of business will be to return to jazz guitar. Even this week I cleaned mine up and put new strings on it. (I have a custom 7-string from a boutique luthier that's itching to be used more!)

-G
Garrett, I have messaged you on FB : )

Cheers,
~k.
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
Published by Lux Nova Press
http://www.luxnova.com/

slofstra
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by slofstra » Sun Jun 19, 2016 2:58 pm

IcedNote wrote:
slofstra wrote:Garrett, I have a question. Do you play an instrument?
I do! Studied both piano and guitar for years. I've kept both up, although I'm not going to mislead you into thinking I'm "performance-ready" on either. But I can still play both well enough to read through difficult music and still have it sound...musical. :mrgreen:

I think my first order of business will be to return to jazz guitar. Even this week I cleaned mine up and put new strings on it. (I have a custom 7-string from a boutique luthier that's itching to be used more!)

-G
Okay, so it's not music you're tired of. That's good. Unfortunately, making a career of an activity you love often has the effect of taking all the joy out of it. I just watched the excellent documentary of Nina Simone, who, of course, loved to sing and perform to the point that it was a redemptive activity for her repressed background. But as she lamented in the documentary, once 37 people's livelihoods depended on the act of her performing that seemed to take all the joy out of it.
And this may or may not be relevant to your own situation. Perhaps the muse will come back, and if or when it does, hopefully, the occasion will restore whatever passion you once had for the activity. If not, then don't ever go back.

IcedNote
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by IcedNote » Sun Jun 19, 2016 5:48 pm

slofstra wrote:Okay, so it's not music you're tired of. That's good. Unfortunately, making a career of an activity you love often has the effect of taking all the joy out of it. I just watched the excellent documentary of Nina Simone, who, of course, loved to sing and perform to the point that it was a redemptive activity for her repressed background. But as she lamented in the documentary, once 37 people's livelihoods depended on the act of her performing that seemed to take all the joy out of it.
And this may or may not be relevant to your own situation. Perhaps the muse will come back, and if or when it does, hopefully, the occasion will restore whatever passion you once had for the activity. If not, then don't ever go back.
See, that's the thing -- I still enjoy composing. I still have things to say via music. I still enjoy working with performers and poets.

HOWEVER...

I'd just rather spend my time doing other things now.

Another way to say it is that I don't love composing *enough* to keep spending so much time at it. There are way too many things in life that I want to find out for myself if I love them as much...or even more. 8)

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

maestrob
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by maestrob » Mon Jun 20, 2016 12:58 am

IcedNote wrote:
slofstra wrote:Okay, so it's not music you're tired of. That's good. Unfortunately, making a career of an activity you love often has the effect of taking all the joy out of it. I just watched the excellent documentary of Nina Simone, who, of course, loved to sing and perform to the point that it was a redemptive activity for her repressed background. But as she lamented in the documentary, once 37 people's livelihoods depended on the act of her performing that seemed to take all the joy out of it.
And this may or may not be relevant to your own situation. Perhaps the muse will come back, and if or when it does, hopefully, the occasion will restore whatever passion you once had for the activity. If not, then don't ever go back.
See, that's the thing -- I still enjoy composing. I still have things to say via music. I still enjoy working with performers and poets.

HOWEVER...

I'd just rather spend my time doing other things now.

Another way to say it is that I don't love composing *enough* to keep spending so much time at it. There are way too many things in life that I want to find out for myself if I love them as much...or even more. 8)

-G
Garrett:

You are indeed a lucky person to have such a choice.

barney
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by barney » Mon Jun 20, 2016 10:40 am

IcedNote wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:also gave this up in a sense of futility.
Your cynicism is so off the charts that I question if you're even aware of it. Good grief. Futility? Really? You know nothing, John B.* :roll:

-G

*Bonus points if any of you get that reference.
It's Game of Thrones (I'm ashamed to say I get it - the red-haired wilding who fell in love with John snow.) But I read the books before I saw any of the TV series. Does that help?

barney
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by barney » Mon Jun 20, 2016 10:41 am

IcedNote wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:There could be no reference to anything you said, unless you mean Socrates as a character in Plato. I thought I was offering you a supportive post. Instead you turned around and loved the response from someone who never posts here anymore. You have decided to give up composing. I understand and support that It cannot be easy to make such a decision. The last thing you need is encouragement to take it up again from a laughable nobody who "came out of retirement" just to respond to your post.
I have no idea what any of that means. But I will say it was a reference to Game of Thrones.

And FYI, Mr. Q and I have had email exchanges and have shared music with each other. You know what they say about assuming... :roll:

-G
Ah, you stole my thunder. I wrote the post above before I saw this one.
Still it's trivial compared with giving up composing. All the best to you, however it works out.

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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by slofstra » Mon Jun 20, 2016 12:11 pm

IcedNote wrote:
slofstra wrote:Okay, so it's not music you're tired of. That's good. Unfortunately, making a career of an activity you love often has the effect of taking all the joy out of it. I just watched the excellent documentary of Nina Simone, who, of course, loved to sing and perform to the point that it was a redemptive activity for her repressed background. But as she lamented in the documentary, once 37 people's livelihoods depended on the act of her performing that seemed to take all the joy out of it.
And this may or may not be relevant to your own situation. Perhaps the muse will come back, and if or when it does, hopefully, the occasion will restore whatever passion you once had for the activity. If not, then don't ever go back.
See, that's the thing -- I still enjoy composing. I still have things to say via music. I still enjoy working with performers and poets.

HOWEVER...

I'd just rather spend my time doing other things now.

Another way to say it is that I don't love composing *enough* to keep spending so much time at it. There are way too many things in life that I want to find out for myself if I love them as much...or even more. 8)

-G
Yeah, I realized I was projecting a bit too much with my comments. Thanks for the clarification. Maybe we'll see a link to some of your artwork before too long. There have certainly been musicians/ composers who have been great visual artists; Joni Mitchell comes to mind, as well as John Lennon.

IcedNote
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by IcedNote » Mon Jun 20, 2016 3:12 pm

barney wrote:<GoT stuff>
Thanks much! I was about to make a another GoT reference but withheld in case you're not entirely caught up. :wink:

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by IcedNote » Mon Jun 20, 2016 3:17 pm

maestrob wrote:Garrett:

You are indeed a lucky person to have such a choice.
Aye aye, sir. The unfortunate (not sure if that's the right word) thing is that I've gotten to the point in my career where stellar musicians have been asking me for LONG pieces for the past couple years. Hell, even to make this ending happen I humbly asked out of a commission for a 30-minute solo piano work to be paired with some Scriabin. And after building my career with Death by 1,000 8-Minute Pieces like the vast majority of composers, it feels a bit wonky to be turning away now. But at the same time, not being entirely sure I want to stick with this DESPITE having such wonderful opportunities made me all the more sure that walking away is the right thing to do.

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Jun 22, 2016 8:05 am

IcedNote wrote:
maestrob wrote:Garrett:

You are indeed a lucky person to have such a choice.
Aye aye, sir. The unfortunate (not sure if that's the right word) thing is that I've gotten to the point in my career where stellar musicians have been asking me for LONG pieces for the past couple years. Hell, even to make this ending happen I humbly asked out of a commission for a 30-minute solo piano work to be paired with some Scriabin. And after building my career with Death by 1,000 8-Minute Pieces like the vast majority of composers, it feels a bit wonky to be turning away now. But at the same time, not being entirely sure I want to stick with this DESPITE having such wonderful opportunities made me all the more sure that walking away is the right thing to do.

-G
You have nothing to apologize for or wander your mind over. From my point of view, everything is both understood and forgiven in advance. When my academic career failed, I thought of going into arts administration. I still recognize it as an opportunity missed, though at the time I would have had to go begging for a job, been paid a pittance and had to live in, well, a garret. I wish you the best, and am sure you will succeed.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

ratsrcute
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Re: Composing? Not anymore. Throwing in the towel.

Post by ratsrcute » Sat Jun 25, 2016 2:54 am

That's very interesting that you noticed the kind of satisfaction you found in other creative activities. You know, life is a journey, and maybe it's easy to get a fixed notion of what that journey entails. But I have found that the journey stalls until I am ready for it to go in an unexpected direction. Maybe creative activities are part of a "journey" for you, or maybe they are just fun. If your life is a journey, maybe the forward path involves some domain besides music, like relationships/family, or career. In any case it seems a good sign that you made this decision. Maybe it took some courage! Although you say that you weren't enjoying composing any more, it still takes courage to step away from the familiar.

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