Saturday, June 27, 2009

Preparation for 50 Songs In 90 Days

On July 4, 50 Songs in 90 Days begins. I already have some songs ready for it — they're incomplete, but they're trying to jump the gun on me. As a warmup, I'm writing two songs for the pre-50/90 "song in key of D minor that contains the word 'earth'" challenge. I'll link to the MP3s so my fellow "5090ers" can hear the results, and I'll also post the lyrics and the song links to the Yahoo 50/90 mailing list.

The history behind this: After NaNoWriMo '07 (when I started writing my novel Bad Company), I found out in a Chris Baty email about February Album Writing Month, or FAWM. I signed up, but did nothing last year in either FAWM or 50/90. I had the software, mostly in Linux (Audacity, LMMS, plus various others that came with Ubuntu Studio). I realized I couldn't use them. But by the time FAWM '09 came around, I found myself in possession of a Casio WK-200 keyboard and two guitars, one acoustic and one acoustic-electric. I downloaded the open source tablature editor TuxGuitar, the windows version of LMMS, and the digital audio workstation Reaper. I already had Audacity for Windows. In mid-February I started taking guitar lessons. And the proverbial dam broke: in FAWM, you win if you write 14 songs, but I wrote 38 and recorded 24 of them, leaving a whole FAWM's worth of songs unrecorded. It wasn't until last week that I realized what it did to me: before, I was what I called a "frustrated guitarist" with manic-depressive tendencies. It was when FAWM '09 unleashed my musical creativity that my depression disappeared. Completely. I no longer even have a tendency to get depressed. The "guitar therapy" worked! (I'll explain this further in a future entry.)

I have a whole bunch of half-finished songs prepared for this year's 50/90. Some of them are fragments I programmed in TuxGuitar; others are notations on scratch paper from idly strumming one of my guitars (I now also have an electric) and coming up with chord progressions I like. Some are lyrics without music; others are music without lyrics. Why such a backlog of songs? Mainly because I've been putting my primary focus between FAWM and 50/90 on learning and practicing the guitar. I write my songs fragments and put them aside so I can return to them during 50/90. I want to make sure I play all the guitar parts when I record those songs, though the solos will probably have to come later (I'm having problems learning scales, arpeggios, etc.).

Consider this the official announcement (outside the FAWMer/5090er community) of my intent to participate in 50/90.

Back to The Space Helmet Show...

Increasing My Online Presence, Part 2

Thanks to the death of Yahoo! 360 (which is why I'm no longer providing a link to it), my art blog is gone! So I'm looking for a new place to put it. I'm considering using the still unused blog I got with a My Opera account (profile still more or less empty, so no link there yet either) for that purpose. If I do, I'll let you all know.

Meanwhile, something got me out of the 50 Songs in 90 Days forums. In one word: Twitter.

I had been waiting to set up a Twitter account until I got a broadband Internet connection, as my dialup link is, as you'd expect, way too slow. But then I was reading the Twitter thread on the 50/90 forums, and I started getting that familiar feeling of being left out. So I fired up my Flock browser, activated its Twitter function, and set up my account. Then, in the Twitter help, I discovered how to put my most recent tweets into the sidebar of my blogs. (If you want to actually follow me on Twitter, click "Follow Me On Twitter" in the sidebar.) That had an Unintended Consequence...

I decided to actually post new blog entries. This is the first. I'll also post to the project blog and update my music projects blog for 50/90.

Anyway, this entry and my first tweets are really about the online presence itself: tweeting about Twitter and blogging about...well, just look at this entry's title. No profound, important, or even very social or personal stuff, really.

So I made a big step toward increasing my online presence by signing up for Twitter, and I'm also reactivating my existing presence in the form of my blogs. Maybe I should get my Flickr, Picasa, and Photoblog accounts going again as well...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Yes, I Can!

Until today*, I couldn't. "I can't" was my motto and my life story. That's why I became a professional slacker in the first place. Then I realized for the first time where I got it: from the extreme difficulty I had in learning how to tie my shoes when I was three. Eventually I learned to tie my shoes, but "I can't" never left me. But then a magical thing occurred: my awareness cured my problem! I had just proved a psychological principle I was previously skeptical of: full awareness of your problem (such as my belief in my incompetence) leads to overcoming your problem. Sometimes this occurs spontaneously. This is what just happened to me: a 40-year brainlock suddenly released. Before, I couldn't because I believed I couldn't. Now, I can!

The catalyst was a book. The author is Debbie Ford, a self-help author of distinctly New Age leanings and a heavy Jungian influence. Her major subject is the psychological "shadow" as Jung described it; outside her books, she does "shadow work" in workshops. For the last several years, I'd been finding copies of The Dark Side of the Light Chasers practically every time I go to a thrift store. I picked up a copy, but I didn't really get all that much out of it. Then I found the sequel, The Secret of the Shadow, on one of my mother's living room tables, so I started reading. Then I borrowed it from her and took it home with me so I could read the whole thing. And something happened right as I was reading it. One of my "stories" — the "I can't" one — came into consciousness, origin and all. All of a sudden, it lost its power over me.