So. We’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Not only am I in a band, I’m writing a Middle Mojo-themed column for the New York Times. It’s called The Creative Mid-Life and it works like this: I call an artist, ask them questions about the impact of aging on their creative lives, and our conversation goes in the New York Times. Neat. I had an interesting talk with Tori Amos, who has some thoughts about anger and discipline and motherhood and taking a different route to the coffee shop. Read all about it.
If it seems like I’ve been scarce around these parts, it’s because I have been. Changes are afoot at Middle Mojo. I’ve decided to take a hiatus from the website in order to focus my time and energy, at least for a spell, on songwriting. How long is a spell? I don’t know. All I know is that I need to go down this rabbit hole. The moment may not come again — god knows it’s taken a long time to get here — and I’m seizing it.
In the year since launching this project, I’ve set out to be both dedicated journalist and budding artist. To talk with the masters about aging and creativity and to explore my own creativity as I age. To become a songwriter and at the same time chronicle the process of becoming a songwriter. What I’ve learned, among other things, is that these tasks involve wildly differently parts of a person’s mind and attention. One requires critique and analysis, the other vanquishing critique and analysis. One involves pointed thought, the other opening the mind in ways that I’m just beginning to grasp.
I’m going to write about this adventure. But first I’m going to have this adventure.
I’ll continue posting songs and making the occasional blog entry, but I imagine they’ll be few and far between. Wish me luck. Write me notes. Send white light, if you’re so inclined, because the mystery deepens even as it unfolds. And because I suspect, dear reader, we’re in this together.
I’m writing a moody rock song about the mall. It’s pretty dark and sort of pretty and there isn’t much of a rhyme scheme but I’m enjoying the literalness of it. I like a lyric that looks you in the eye. There’s something mesmerizingly literal about EMA’s “California.” It’s also mesmerizingly stream-of-consciousness. That’s a neat trick. I can’t look away. Here’s to pointing fingers and naming names and my home state.
I’ve been reading again. Tragically, I’d stopped for a while. Since striking out on my own it seems like there’s always something more important to do. Write a blog post. Work on a song. Prepare for an interview. Tweet. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. Reading seemed like a luxury. But it’s not. Quite the opposite, as it turns out.
I’ve just finished “Poser,” by Claire Dederer. It’s a memoir about yoga and family life and expectations — the expectations we have of ourselves, the expectations we imagine everyone else has of us, and how we navigate the murky divide between the two. I chew on that one a lot. You might assume that a grown woman such as myself, a thinking person who has lived a little, maybe more than a little, would know the difference between what she wants and what she believes she should want. You would be wrong. Which is why when I arrived at this one line I stopped and closed the book and stared into space for a really long time like I’d been conked on the head with something heavy. Which I had.
What if the opposite of good wasn’t bad? What if the opposite of good was real?
I know I’ve been getting all philosophical but, goddamn, what a notion. It applies to everything. Songwriting. Relationships. Decisions. Housecleaning. It’s revolutionary. It’s liberating. It’s a tonic and a corrective and an angle of approach that throws judgement out the window. People ask me what my goals are. For a while I said I want to write some songs. Lately I’ve been saying I want to write some good songs. Now I’m thinking all I want to do is remember what I set out to be at the beginning of this project: sincere.