I spent the month of January reading and meditating over one of my favorite Christmas presents: Sara Bareilles’ autobiography, Sounds like Me, My Life (so far) in Song. (Thanks, Anna).
While I found her book charming, funny, and relatable in more ways than I can count, a certain passage Sara quotes stuck out among the rest:
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action. [B]ecause there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and it will be lost. The world will not have it.
It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You [must] keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.
No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.“
– Martha Graham to Agnes de Mille
If only Martha and Sara could understand how deeply those words connected with me! As someone who rarely feels completely understood, I felt a moment of peace wash over me as I read that passage again and again. It was what I needed to hear:
My art is unique and special. My soul may never have an outlet to express itself again. If I don’t dedicate my life to sharing my unique creativity, that potential inside of me (and the possibility of impacting others through my art) will never exist.
Although I think it’s my job to determine the value of my art, it’s not. It doesn’t matter whether I think my songs are good or bad, or better or worse than someone else’s. What matters is they’re mine, and they remain true to me, my thoughts, and my passions (my little forms of self-expression that I release into the world and share with others).
Most of the time, I won’t believe in myself or my work. I’ll go through cycles of loving and hating my songs, trying to dissect the reasons they’re not quite perfect.
No one who creates is ever content with their art; I’m not the first, and I won’t be the last musician, author, or painter to pick apart her creations. All I can do is be consciously aware of what stimulates me, what touches my heart, and what brings forth my expressive spirit, so when my soul has something to say, I’ll be ready to put a little piece of myself into song.
We feel blessed to be doing what we love, and honored that our musical passion can bring joy to others. If you’d like to keep up with Chloe & the Steel Strings‘ journey, please click the following links to join our mailing list, follow us on social media, and check out our Spotify to listen to original music.