Last year, I was mostly surprised by the support and attention Spire brought me from my peers and friends. This year, Spire is surprising me again, but in a slightly different way. While I’m still consistently humbled by outpouring encouragement, I’ve primarily been surprised by the amount of questions and interest I’ve received this round. Active Spire followers and vaguely intrigued Spire followers alike all have questions or comments about the journey. Perhaps the most interesting relationship I have is with the Spire Choir, however. (The Spire Choir is the informal title that the SpireSpire participants have enthusiastically agreed upon.)
In being asked questions about my former and current experience as a Spire member by the rest of the Spire Choir, I’ve been fondly recollecting some of my favorite parts of my two-part journey. One of the most prevailing trends of last year was this: sometimes I would make a goal for that week and a potentially better opportunity or situation would present itself to me.
For some people, it’s too difficult to focus on just one task for the week because they have so many goals in mind. For others, it’s undeniably difficult to even get started on a goal, and still some others become discouraged because they have no idea how to pursue or complete their goal. In remembering some of the best and worst weeks of mine from last year, I realized one universal truth. When I tried to overexert myself towards a goal that required more steps than I realized, stuck with the planned goal just because it was planned or shied away from something larger than my planned goal because I didn’t plan for it, I became very discouraged by the end of the week.
Some of my best weeks only happened because I practiced flexibility. When a few of the Spire Choir members asked me for advice, I urged them to remain flexible, but keep working. You’ve got to be Gumby. Just because you planned to write a character outline for your novel doesn’t mean that you have to. Perhaps you get a sudden tide of creativity, (or probably more realistically you’ll get a faint, tickling idea), about a new location for your story.
It would be negligent to begrudgingly stick to your plan and potentially lose an entirely new place or chapter even. The point of the weekly goals is to keep yourself working towards your ultimate goal in whatever forms you can. Elizabeth Gilbert, a celebrated author and philosopher, contends with the concept of creativity in a very interesting speech I’ve cited before. In it, she personifies creativity the way that Romans did, as a Genius or Daemon; a creature that uses humans as a funnel for whatever creative gesture it wishes to exist.
Though it’s a bit of a stretch to begin revering small fairy creatures as divine bearers of creativity, what she says later in her speech is valuable to anyone who wishes to get work done. She said that while in the middle of writing her book “Eat. Pray. Love”, she ran into a discouraging wall. She began to sink into despair, feeling as though her book was going to be the worst book in human existence and that she should give up. What she did next is revolutionarily goofy. Elizabeth directed her voice to the corner of her workroom, and essentially told the non-existent Daemon that if it wanted the novel they had both been working on to be any good, she would need some help. But, if he decided that he didn’t want to do his job, Elizabeth wanted the record to show that she came and did hers.
Elizabeth Gilbert makes an important discovery here. To be successful is not only about bending and shaping your week to whatever comes along, it also requires consistency. You need to jump in on your project with as much vigor as you can muster, even when you feel discouraged. The more time you spend on something, the more opportunity you will have for inspiration.
This all being said, I took a leaf out of my own book this week. If you recall, last week’s goal was to rewrite the lyrics to a new song that Sun Brother will begin working on soon. Well, I didn’t do that. Instead, I began writing an entirely new song.
Apparently, while I was at class the other Sun Brothers were lunching together. They were, naturally, joking around about music and our own and somehow all realized that most of my songs are in major keys. Now, this doesn’t mean that the lyricism in it is light or meaningless; if you read last year at all, you’ll understand how much depth I try to put into my words. What it does mean, however, is that our songs have the danger of being misinterpreted or unjustly paired together as all sounding the same.
So I struck out to begin writing lyrics to a minor chord progression I’ve been sitting on for a few weeks, and it’s going very well. Something I’ve always wanted to try in my writing is to adapt the voice of a different narrator; to be someone other than myself in my own music. It’s thus far been pretty entertaining, and personally, I think it offers a fresh perspective to my lyrics. Be on the lookout for some more lyrics next Sunday, but for now, here is the first verse.
You’re using me to use you.
My slaying eyes,
Like the straining light
Clutch your side.
And clench your hide to mine.