My dear friend and fellow musician Emily Shaw and I were having lunch the other day and she served up some lucrative advice. With a side of real sauce. Extra sauce. A local luthier, performer and music teacher, Emily has a flourishing business and is living the artist’s dream — successfully making one’s way in the world as a musician. Emily is a trailblazer amongst millennials striving to find their professional footing in an wild and uncertain economy. Through her building, teaching and performing, my friend is establishing her growing business in the Ottawa and Ontario music scene (not to mention tending to the many little lives in her garden – the lettuce is ah-mazing!). Her resourcefulness, imagination and good ol’ elbow grease have brought Emily success and meaning in her artistic life. In short, she’s a pretty amazing human. Go check her out. Do it. Do it now!
Okay, now that we’ve established the awesomeness that is my friend, I’ll get to the real sauce mentioned above. To be a successful teacher/artist/modern businessperson/self-employed super-musician, you need a digital presence. Especially on the inter webs. And I’m not talking about a stagnant website that’s updated once a year (Ahem…yours truly may or may not be guilty of this in the past 365 days…), I’m talking about regular updates and activity. It’s a must, a necessity to be taken seriously in your profession.
So there we were, sitting at Nordstrom noshing on our Green Rebel boxes (don’t worry we ordered drinks so as not to be squatters in the coffee bar) and Emily throws out this golden truth nugget (don’t forget – slathered in real sauce). “You know, a website that is continually being updated with new content will inevitably increase visits to your site.” A technological neanderthal, this concept blew my mind. I mean, it makes sense – upping one’s presence on the web by, well…having more of a presence? That makes sense, right?
“You enjoy writing — consider keeping a blog on your website. You could write about anything – music, teaching, painting, performing, life…the list goes on, ” Emily said as she peered at me with wise eyes over a cup of African Nectar tea. “Give it a try. I’ve found it very helpful for my guitar building and studio.”
I do love to write. I’m not sure how admirable (or despicable) I am as a writer, but I do know I enjoy sitting with a nice coffee and riffing off some prose into the ether…net…(insert groan here – bad joke alert). I’m also not a 140 character kind of human. In school teachers would encourage me to resist “writing essays for long (and short) answer questions.” I guess you could say I’ve always been long winded in the scribbling department. There’s something far more intense about writing things down than orally stating one’s thoughts or opinions. Something more eternal and more final. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, the more I write the more real my thoughts seem to become. It’s comforting, risky and cathartic all at once. Perhaps that’s what draws me to this whole blog idea. And what nobler a pursuit in this time of 24/7, lighting speed, social media and instant gratification than the pursuit of “becoming more real.” I’m Velveteening it up — time to honour my inner stuffed animal heart that has weathered some storms and is becoming more real with each passing day. I’m going to keep it real — in my music, in my teaching, in my art and in my business, and I’m here to share this journey with you and the ether.
So without further ado, I leave you with a passage from one of my favourite books of all time, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams:
“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Okay Blog, let’s do this!