Saturday, July 11, 2009

Keeping the faith

I guess I shouldn't have complained. In the last week, I've lost two students, sat in cat pee, got pooped on (by a bird), got 10 cold sores (in one day! on my lower lip), pooped my pants (just a little - I don't want to talk about it) and my regular church job is having some financial troubles in this turbulent economy, and so I won't be playing there until further notice. Bummer. Big bummer.

Unfortunately, this kind of thing is par for the course when you're a freelancer. Well, maybe not all the poo and pee, but the job insecurity. You may think everything is just fine, going along la-de-da, you have all your ducks in a row, and then suddenly you have no idea where your income will be coming from. As far as I'm concerned, I'm okay for now, I do have enough gigs lined up in the coming months to be okay, it's just disconcerting how fast life can change.

When I first came to New York, I was starting my graduate degree and I didn't really know any other string players. I didn't have a gig for 6 months. I laid in bed for the first month of living here and then when school started, I focused on that. When I finally got my first gig (a concert at Columbia) I was thrilled! Until I found out it wasn't a paying gig. Then I was more on the resentful side. Then, once I got my website up and running, things started to change. I got a few gigs, then a few more, then I started making connections and the work just seemed to take off. By the time I was about done with my degree, the gigs were pretty steady and I was feeling confident that I could live as a freelancer.

I need to remember to keep the faith. I know that this is a difficult time for many people, but as my husband is also low on work, it's going to be a bit tight for a little while. Who knows? Maybe it will be for the best. I do have several projects I would like to start working on and this will certainly give me some extra time to delve into uncharted waters. I can start my album, train for that 5K, work on my Russian, start Slim in 6 (from that infomercial), start a new practice routine - all those things I've been too distracted to work on. Maybe it'll be great.....

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Balancing Act - Volume 2

What a difference a week (or two) makes! The last few weeks have been a whole new world. Besides a busy 4th of July weekend with 3 weddings, I've had little work. My mom came in town for 10 days and we did some touristy stuff, (Brooklyn Promenade, Chinatown, some other stuff I can't remember) some eating (V-Spot, Los Mariachis) and went to see some movies (Cheri, Whatever Works). It was nice. But now my schedule is pretty free. A little too free, maybe.

I don't feel too worried about it, as I have a fair amount booked through September, and some other gigs sprinkled here and there through November. But nevertheless, with all this spare time, I sometimes get that panic-y feeling about where my next paycheck is coming from.  I usually try to squelch any bad thoughts about not having enough as soon as they appear, but nevertheless, sometimes they seep in anyways. 

I have found from personal experience, that the more I worry about money, the less money appears in my life.  If I don't worry about money, all is well, simple as that. I'm not saying that I just sit around on my butt and eat grapes and wait for the money to come rolling in, but if I stay creative, continue to hone my craft and don't panic, everything turns out fine. Better than fine, really.  I've been a professional musician for almost 10 years now, and haven't starved (yet).  So far, so good.  

My main problem, when I have a lot of free time, is motivation. Sometimes I feel great. Like super great!!!!!!  For example, one day this week I decided I should go for a bike ride, train for a 5K run, start a new practice regime, write an album, work on my blog, order every exercise informercial product known to man, learn another language (or two) and study for the GRE so that I can start a PhD in ethnomusicology. But there are other days, days that come all too frequently, where it's hard for me to do much of anything and I do a lot of laying around, trying to muster up the energy to become interested in something. However, I realize that this is more of a dysfunction of my personality, as opposed to a dysfunction of being a musician. Sigh.

Someone in the business once told me that you should try and enjoy your time off as much as you can, because your time on will be crazy. In general, I have found this to be good advice and truth; Sometimes I'm super busy, and sometimes I have so much free time, I'm not sure what to do with myself.  The hardest part for me is to figure out how to enjoy my time off.  Should I stay in bed and read all day?  Go out and see the sights??  Should I try to be productive?  Work on my website? Watching TV sounds good.  Wonder what's on Oprah today? Maybe I'll anxiety for awhile instead... I want to be rested for my next turn in the rat race, but I don't want to be so rested that I turn into a blob and want to shoot myself.

I guess it comes down to that balancing act again.  Not just between long days and months of hard work, followed by long days or weeks to myself; But also between productivity and relaxation for those times off, so one can feel both rested and excited when the work picks back up again.  Find other projects to focus on and set goals about.  Train for that 5K and hang out with friends.  Start working on new music and start reading a good book.  Write a little, maybe do some housework (God forbid) and watch that Oprah show.   Sounds like a good life to me.