So, new theme is installed, but there are a few kinks to sort out before we’re fully operational. In the meantime, click the Blog link above to read my Tumbler.
So, new theme is installed, but there are a few kinks to sort out before we’re fully operational. In the meantime, click the Blog link above to read my Tumbler.
So, this is just a quick update to let you all know that as of now I’ll be using my Tumblr exclusively for blogging. It’s now located at the subdomain blog.maiamadness.com, and can be followed like any other tumblr, or read by anyone who wants. I’m giving this site a bit of an overhaul, changing the theme and getting a blog link up on the top, and I’ll still use this to post content such as song lyrics and stories, and the blog archive will still be available. Basically, I’m bringing all my little corners of the Internet (or as many as I can manage) together under this domain. My bandcamp page now has the url music.maiamadness.com, btw.
So, for those of you who just check my blog every once in a while, update your bookmark to blog.maiamadness.com, and I’ll catch you on the flipside.
This year, this 2011, has been a strange one for me. It has brought about many changes in my life. I’ve graduated from University, and I’ve been doing more thinking about my future than ever before in my life. I’ve surprised myself, and disappointed myself, and been so, so proud of myself.
In July, my country experienced the greatest tragedy since the war, probably, and it’s affected everyone here in one way or another.
As for me, personally, I have moved in with my wonderful boyfriend. I’ve decided to become a physicist, and I have abandoned that track, at least for now. I’ve gone back to school, and I have decided to quit, because while I found math and physics both interesting and exciting, it’s not what I need to do. It’s not even what I want to do. I have started a new job, and I have quit it again, to work as a temp instead. I have recorded and released my first EP. I have decided to focus on music and writing. I’ve grown up, and I’ve figured out I’d rather not be so grown up. I’ve been halfway round the world, almost. I’ve learned to play a new instrument. I have spoken to my hero, and I have found another one. I’ve done so much, tried so many new things and grown so much as a person. I hope to continue to grow in the new year.
I want to thank everyone who’s helped me and stood by me and encouraged me, especially my mother, my boyfriend, and my friend Jenny who, though she may not know it, has also been tremendously helpful.
And I hope that every one of you will have a wonderful new year, that you will be happy, and accomplish many things, that you will love and live and fight and dream and be magnificent. Because you are, each and every one of you, amazing. <3
Holy fucking shit, batman, I just made my first two sales on Bandcamp!!! *freaks out* *giggles and cries* *falls down*
Okay, so, now that I’m done jumping around the room and squealing like a little kid… Earlier today I sent an e-mail to Tom Dickins, who is one half of the Jane Austen Argument, and absolutely amazing. I saw Tom perform with Amanda Palmer in San Diego in October and fell utterly in love with his songwriting and his voice, and he has greatly inspired me because he made the decision to quit his day job, focus on the music and say “fuck Plan B”. Which, incidently, is exactly what I decided to do when I was in San Diego, inspired by all the writers and artists I met at the World Fantasy Convention and by the Amanda Palmer gig (well, I haven’t quit my day job, but I’m definitely giving THIS as much of my attention as I can muster).
This was also why I decided to record a Christmas EP. I have little money this year, and so I thought it could be a nice thing to give to family and friends for Christmas, but then I thought, why the hell stop there? So I signed up with Bandcamp. This is the amazing thing about the music business right now. We’re on the verge of a complete change in the music business and its inner workings, where artists no longer need to rely on record labels and have more control over how their music is distributed and where the money goes.
Anyway, back to some kind of point. I e-mailed Tom, and I told him how much he’d inspired me and asked if he could consider sharing my EP with his followers. He did so much more than that. He bought it (like, paid for it, my first sale, and that’s a big deal as he just sold off several of his possession on eBay in order to pay rent) and made the following tweet:
I am so fucking overwhelmed and insanely happy, you have no idea. And within half an hour of this, I’d made my second sale and a new follower on Twitter, and about 100 new plays, too. Life is fucking beautiful right now! <3
If you want to listen to, download (for free) or buy the EP, you can click the image below.
It’s hard to express this without sounding like a primadonna. Because, obviously, that’s what you are if you’re an artist and you complain about people not paying attention to your art.
I just got home from my job’s Christmas party. We had awesome food, and we talked and it was very very lovely. Now, thing is, one of my coworkers was on this year’s Norwegian Idol competition, on TV. Three times during the course of the evening, she was asked to sing. Me? None. Many of my coworkers know I’m singer. Many of them know I aspire to make a career out of this. Yet, none of them asked me if I would like to sing something.
I don’t begrudge her the attention. In fact, I think she’s very talented, and I wish her luck, and I want her to make it as an artist. I just want her to achieve her goals without… I dunno. I dunno what I’m saying. I’m a little bit drunk anyway.
Like I said, it’s hard to express this without sounding like a primadonna. It’s hard to not sound like a jealous cunt. I’m not, I’m really not. I just feel like, with all the sacrifices I’m prepared to make to be an artist, it would be nice if people would give me a moment to show what I’m up to every once in a while. I don’t think I’m more worthy than others. I’d just like to have the same opportunities.
I don’t play any instruments very well. I should learn. I’m trying to learn, so I don’t have to be dependent on other people. I have gone through most of my life being the last one picked for the team. That goes for my musical side as well. I’m the last one people ask. I once had a voice coach who told me it was because I was too good, that I intimidated them. I would love to believe that, but I don’t. What is it about me that makes me the last person people ask? Why don’t people want to hear me play? Why don’t people want to play with me?
Am I kidding myself? Have people been lying to me all my life, afraid to hurt my feelings? Am I really one of those people who can’t carry a tune to save my life? Am I one of those people who just think they can sing, who just think they have talent, for anything? What is it about me that makes people not notice me?
Understand me right, here. I don’t want to be a celebrity. I’m not in it for the glamour or the riches, or because I’m a narcisistic bitch who needs attention. I’m really not. I’m in it because I feel like I have stories to tell, because I feel like I have all this creative energy inside it and I want to use it for good, to share it. But I need some acknowledgement. I need people to see me, because otherwise I’ll just give up. I need to know that what I’m doing is good. Or at least that it does some good for someone, even if it’s just one person. I need to be told that I’m good enough.
Do people think that I know? Do people think that I don’t need encouragement? Do I seem that confident? Or is it just that I’m really just not cutting it? Am I just not good enough? Would people I rather shut up, keep it to myself, and do something sensible with my life? What? What is it?
I just want to sing…
This song made me stop crying for a minute.
This is just not good at all. A week left until my first exam, and I am just not managing to do any school work at all. I had an assignment I was supposed to hand in yesterday, and rather than going to school empty handed, I stayed home. It’s like I’m not motivated, and really I think I’m just terrified of failing.
I’d forgotten what school is like… Homework and tests and exams to study for… The past few years I’ve barely had to study for exams at all, most assessments have been practical to some degree or another. I haven’t needed to sit down and study. I’ve been doing things I think is fun. I’ve been practicing music, writing songs, doing research, studying music theory which, once you know it, just kind of sits in your brain and your fingers.
Now I remember everything I didn’t like about going to school. I’ve mostly enjoyed my lessons this semester, and I’ve learned a lot, but then there’s been homework I just couldn’t be arsed to do, always thinking, I’ll catch up closer to exams, and then never doing it. Back into old habits. And now, having decided that I’m not going to go to uni next year anyway, it’s like some part of me has decided it doesn’t see the point anymore, and now I just feel aimless and depressed and apathetic.
I really, really don’t want to go to school, either, but I will. I will because, even if I might not manage the physics, I will at least manage math. I intend to pass my exam next Wednesday. But I’m uncertain about whether I’ll be continuing next semester or not… This is something I’ll have to think very carefully about.
I set up the first tumblr I made to be a music tumblr, so I decided to make another one, for posting thoughts about writing. Feel free to follow me there.
If you’re curious about the title, I can reveal that Jern is my grandmother’s maiden name, and I’ve been kicking around the idea of using it as a pen name for a while now. I think it sounds catchy. It sounds catchiest in Norwegian, where ‘jern’ means ‘iron’. I like pen names. They make me feel a bit more free to write what I want. I guess that’s a bit cowardly, but I like the feeling of freedom I get from it. I can lie, and no one will hate me for it, because I’m not me.
I’ve had so many dreams over the years; dreams in the sense of wishes. My Great Dream™ has been to be a writer, a singer, an actress, a dancer (it was short lived), a painter, an astrophysicist, a teacher, a pianist, a chef, even a doctor (until I realised that I’d be exposed to vomit on a daily basis) and the list goes on. Most of these professions are creative, artistic professions and, if successful, involve a certain degree of fame.
In the end, the most frequently recurring of these dreams have been writer and singer, but within those categories I’ve also gone through a fairly large number of sub-Dreams.
I’ve wanted to be an opera singer, a popstar, a rockstar, a folk singer, a blues singer, a jazz singer, and I’ve gone back and forth between wanting to do almost all of these as a member of a band or as a solo artist.
I’ve wanted to be a children’s book author, a sci-fi author, a fantasy author, a poet, a music journalist, a young adult fiction author, a war correspondent, a crime novelist, and again, the list goes on.
I’ve had a lot of time the past few weeks, what with being practically unemployed and having had a lot of insomnia, to think about what it is I really want to do with my life. I’ve examined each of my Dreams in an attempt to figure out which one is really my True Great Dream™, or rather, my motivation for it.
Do I want to be famous? Perhaps a little bit. Every artist wants recognition for their work, and get that warm, fuzzy feeling when someone stops them in the street just to tell them that they’re fantastic (this has actually happened to me, though the person who did it was a person who went to the same school as me and whom I had just never met before, and he stopped me in a comic book shop rather than the actual street).
But I don’t really think fame is my primary motivation. I think that what I really want to do, and what I’ve wanted to do ever since I was old enough to think it, is tell stories. So I think I’ve narrowed it down. I sit with two Dreams that may, possibly, even be compatible, and I will share them with you.
Some of the first stories I ever heard were fairy tales, stories from Greek and Norse mythology, and Fantasy books. And while there are other genres that I have loved over the course of my life so far, none have thrilled me so much as Fantasy novels. So, if I am to be a writer, that must be my primary focus. I want to flit in and out of horror and children’s stories and sci-fi as well, but I need Fantasy like I need air. Okay, maybe not like air, maybe more like water, or food, or chocolate. The point is, I need it. Because the world is sad and dull and life is uneventful, and when it is eventful we just get stressed out, or it’s dangerous, or it results in sadness.
The other thing that I really, truly need is music. I love all music, but in the vein of telling stories, there is one genre or style that is capable of encompassing elements of nearly all the others while being message orientated, and this genre is folk.
When people think of folk music, they either imagine the traditional kind, from all over the world, or they think of a guy with a guitar singing protest ballads. These people exist. I know several. But that’s not all there is. I know jazz singers, blues guitarists and rock musicians who all profess to be folk performers, because folk music isn’t really a genre. It’s popular music at its purest and its most significant. It’s poetry and storytelling in musical form. It’s magic.
So, this is my action plan. I’m going to write, and I’m going to sing. Fantasy and Folk, stories and stories, words and words. I will be the starving artist, or the successful one, but whichever direction my life takes from here on out, I won’t lie to myself again. I won’t make up other, more attainable Dreams because I’m lazy or scared. I will tell stories.
Today I have been brave. Today, I have spoken to people, and I’ve been introducing myself as a writer, or at least an aspiring one. I have talked to strangers, chatted with artists and authors.
I have spoken with Megan Hutchins, an up and coming who recently published her first short story, during the World Fantasy Award Banquet.
I’ve talked with Travis Heermann, about what it means to be a writer and give something your all, and about ideas, and about music.
I’ve talked to all kinds of people about all kinds of things, and I haven’t been scared or shy or hidden away. It’s been a fantastic day. Tomorrow I’m going home. Sleeping now. Good night, world.
They say you should never meet your heroes, and they couldn’t possibly be more mistaken.
Me, I’m prone to fangirlism, so for my heroes’ sake, I probably shouldn’t meet them. The prospect of talking to someone I admire to that extent is both terrifying and exciting, and I spend weeks if not months imagining what it will be like when faced with that prospect. The way I imagine it I’m always very cool and relaxed and talk to them like an adult.
That is never the reality. The reality is that I go white as a sheet, get slightly queasy and lose my ability to speak.
Tonight, I met Neil Gaiman in a bar, here at the hotel. Morten and I were just sitting in the bar, having a drink, when he walked in with his assistant and some friends, and he talked to people he knew, and hugged people, and he had a friend who did card tricks. And I just sat, feeling sick, and I choked up and couldn’t think, because he was in the same room, in a social situation.
I have to back up a bit now, I think. I’ve been writing since I was five, for as long as I’ve known the alphabet, and I’ve been singing and performing for just as long, if not technically longer. When I was about six, I made a conscious decision to become a writer when I grew up. So when there’s a writer I really love, that admiration is so much greater than it could be for pretty much anyone else, including the fantastic musicians I love equally as much.
Neil Gaiman is one of those writers. His work exceeds pretty much everything else for me. The way he writes is how I wish I could write. His stories are amazing. His characters are real. His work is, in my opinion, perfect. I use his books to study the craft, and whenever I’m ready to give up on writing, if I read one of his stories, it brings me right back on track.
Yesterday, in the panel with Neil and Connie, they talked about the craft of writing, where ideas come from, why people become writers, and how you go about it. And I realised something important. I realised that if I want to be an artist – if I want to write and sing professionally, which in the end are the only two things I have always been sure I want to do – I have to go for it. I have to focus on that, do my best to be magnificent and not let anything stop me. Never give up, and keep going.
Neil Gaiman helped me realise that. So did Amanda Palmer, from the musical perspective, at her gig last night. I thought, she’s doing it. She’s just doing it, she’s out there singing and playing and writing songs, and she’s doing it all by herself. If she can do it, maybe I can too, and I at least owe it to myself to try.
Yesterday Neil said that the moment he realised that he was going to try to be a writer, was when he imagined himself on his deathbed. He thought he could either lie there thinking, ‘I could have been a writer.’ Or he could think, ‘I tried being a writer,’ even if it didn’t work out, at least he’d tried.
And that’s what I need to do. I’ve been lazy up until now. I’ve been thinking, there’s no guarantee I can live off my art, so I’d better have something else to fall back on. Hence the Physics. But every artist who truly made it, everyone who really lived their dream, they jumped right into it. That’s the difference between success and failure, and if I go on trying to build myself a safety net instead of jumping in and taking the risks, I am never going to make it.
So, back to the bar. Neil got up to buy some drinks, and before he and his friends went back to their seats, my courage finally decided to show up, and I tapped his shoulder, said excuse me, and told him all this. I believe I may have stuttered and rambled, and my voice quavered, and I was having a hard time keeping eye contact, but I got through it, and I thanked him for making me realise it, and he said, ‘That’s wonderful! Give me a hug.’
And I hugged Neil Gaiman. A long hug, during which he told me good luck and not to give up. Then we talked about Amanda Palmer for a minute, and then he moved on. And I ran into the bathroom and cried in something like relief and joy and just pure overpouring of emotion.
This has been my first convention ever, and I think I can safely say that nothing will ever be able to top it. That said, I intend to keep coming back. Not next year, cause I don’t think I can affort Toronto, not after this, and Japan coming up in spring. But 2013 is in Brighton, and I am definitely going to that.
Other things we’ve done today include buying two pieces of art at the art show, attending a panel about the late (and magnificent) Diana Wynne Jones, and learning that China Mieville is going to be the Master of Ceremonies at WFC2013. And just now, I had a really nice chat with a guy from LA who was sitting outside playing guitar, about religion and fandom and culture and spirituality. But really, it all pales in comparison with talking to Neil Gaiman, as sad as that may be.
The title of this post comes from a CD I own, which is a collection of music by various artists, including Rasputina, Tori Amos and Voltaire, inspired by Neil’s work, and which I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys his books, and anyone else who enjoys good music. Obviously, the answer to the question is, ‘Always there.’