Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Winning 'Em Over": Musicians' Advice on Confidence + Original Song

Melissa Ferrick "Win 'Em Over"
The older I get, the more I realize that you never really "come out" just once. And no, I don't just mean with sexuality, I mean in all areas of ones life. When I was eight, for example, I came out as a huge Star Wars/Harry Potter nerd who adamantly insisted that there was no band in the world better than the Beatles. (Not that this admission is far from the truth, but try telling that to your eight year old friends in an era of Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls.) When I was 13, I came out as a lesbian. (Probably the easiest closet to come out of.) When I was fifteen, I came out as a musician. No, not just in the way I'd been playing guitar or piano for most of my life, but it in the way that I was ready to go out and start playing gigs. Just seven months ago, right after I turned 19, I came out of the writer closet. I finished editing my first manuscript, and started doing lots of research, sending out queries to agents, and, shockingly to me, even getting some really positive replies and one request for a partial manuscript.

But even with all of this progress, all of this honesty, it sometimes feels like every (closet) door I open also opens up for more doubt. Those thoughts of "even though I've done, x, y, and z, and even though everyone has been so encouraging, and even though all my friends say it's brilliant, maybe..." Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. I'm really starting to hate that word...

Enter in my music Tuesdays wisdom: I told you I'd be supporting some of my favorite indie artists on my blog, and one of my favorites is a folk rock goddess by the name of Melissa Ferrick. I love her not only for her unique sound, but for incredibly honest lyrics and intense energy. She's not afraid to put it all out there, which is amazing as a listener, because it's a reminder that so many of the things that we take so harshly or so personally are not necessarily individual to us. Crazily enough, other people have struggles and triumphs too. (I know, right?)

Quite a few years back, Melissa came out with a song called Win 'Em Over. The lyrics to this song in particular have always stuck out to me, because they speak of uncertainty and doubt, but in the end, as the chorus goes,

"you say
I win ‘em over
with my smile.
I win ‘em over
with my charming sense of humor.
I win ‘em over
with just the touch of my hand.
I win ‘em over
when I sing my truth."

Those words, at least for me, have been the answer to getting rid of doubt. Their message, a simple one: be yourself. Show the world who you are, and if you show them the truth of you, you'll win em over every time. Because you, yes you, all of you, are awesome, talented, unique folks who have stories to tell that no one's heard before. Be confident in your voice. Be confident in your dreams.

Over the past seven years that I've been writing music, I've written many songs about overcoming obstacles and having faith in yourself. I feel like once I gained my confidence, I gained both an amazing sense of focus and a new found distance from the many people who had no idea who they were or what they wanted. The easiest way to try to remedy this was  to talk to the world (okay, or maybe just my friends and humble fan base) about it through songs. A few months back, as I was in the middle of both a songwriting and a querying frenzy and trying to study for finals, I felt myself losing it a bit over the pressure. I wrote the song on the right, "Open for Business", about the cynical side of being used for your confidence and your skill, and how it's important not to let yourself become just a "commodity."

And, because I saw Melissa Ferrick this weekend with this fantastic artist right here--"Bravedancing" by Rachael Sage

(P.S. As I was finishing writing this post, the one agent I mentioned above, the one who had asked for a partial of my last manuscript? Yeah...she e-mailed and rejected me.*The powers that be have a quirky sense of humor, right?* But no matter. I'm gonna rock their socks off and win 'em over with the badass lesbian fiction manuscript I'm working on now. :-) )

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