Thursday, June 11, 2009
Earlier this week, I shared the wisdom of my friends Rachel and Charles regarding self-promotion: know what three things you want to say, then say them again and again. Yesterday, Rachel followed up and asked: "If there were one thing you wanted to share out of your book, what would it be?"
I have absolutely no idea.
And I'm not sure I want to know. The walls of resistance rise in me whenever I'm asked to sound bite or pare down in an effort to 'focus'. Were it up to me, when asked the question "what one thing is your book about", I'd open up to page one and start reading…
In composing, for some reason, I don't have this problem. I usually have tens of pages of notes and ideas that I happily hone down to 3 minutes and 33 seconds... twenty or so lines of words and melody that encapsulate all that I think and feel about the topic at hand.
Why don't I mind, and even enjoy, the narrowing then? Why do I get giggles of giddiness as I try to carve and sculpt general concepts into small melodic moments and quick linguistic lances? Because it feels like a distillation, rather than a whittling away. I'm compressing large amounts of carbon into what I hope will become precious diamonds, rather than choosing between my heart and soul.
Great businessmen and women understand this distinction. They know that 'selling' isn't the diminishing of a concept, person or product. It's displaying the highlights of a jewel in the best possible light.
We artists have got to wrap our heads around this idea… to learn that 'selling' ourselves and our art doesn't require the minimizing of who we are into a teensy, tiny box. It's about delivering a summary that's as or more powerful than the work we've created… sharing the best of who we are and what we do in a way that others can easily appreciate. (After all, imagine trying to get people to learn and sing along to a 56 minute song with no discernable melody, rhythm or rhyme…)
When the time comes to present your art and heart to the world, don't see the negative- and incorrect- notions of compromise, soul-selling or debasing your art for gain. See the opportunity as an invitation to write a gloriously catchy song… to translate and elevate your narrative heart into a most exquisite haiku.