Tuesday, July 7, 2009

in search of THE PROJECT

holy moly, i must start with an apology again. sorry if you've been checking in for nothing new. i have been busy, searching in vain for MY NEXT PROJECT.
and i have realized what i should have known from the beginning: if you go searching, you're sure not to find it.

doing the Blood and Fire project was a beautiful experience, from beginning to uh, middle - can't say "end", as it continues to thrive. but almost as soon as the writing was over, i was looking for the next one. mistake.

you see, the Project didn't start out as the Project. it started with a song, inspired by another song which screamed at me to write a rebuttal. a few years later, it was still just a song. a good song, and people responded well to it. a few asked if i had others up my sleeve.

then my buddy Kevin Kelly gave me a couple of things - the definitive book (my blog, my opinion) on the subject, "The Donnelly Album", and an Appalachian mountain dulcimer. he liked the original song, thought i might like to read a bit more on the subject. the dulcimer he inherited by being the only one in his guitar store to know what the hell it was when a lady dropped it off, hoping for a good home. thanks lady - it's safe and well cared for.

one obsession, a year, and nine songs later, i had the music for the Project. there was a song played on the dulcimer. there was a song called "Kevin Kelly's Lament for Bridget Donnelly". not surprisingly, they are my two favourite songs in the show. thanks Kevin.

so it worked out very well for me. only natural that i should think that perhaps i should do it again. what i didn't take into account was how much serendipity had been involved in making the first one happen.

i thought all i needed was a subject that i felt the same way about, ie. a Canadian story to be told in more detail than most folks had been taught.

and i thought i had it - The Group of Seven! interesting characters, revered and villified for their groundbreaking portraits of the Canadian landscape. mysterious deaths, love triangles, performance art in women's tights...

so i started reading, just like with The Donnelly Album. not.

after a few weeks of perusing some very interesting stories and anecdotes, and revisiting some of my favourite paintings, i realized it was only an academic exercise. there was no way i would be able to write a project with my lukewarm response to the material.

i had been grasping at straws, instead of being grabbed by the balls. i won't say i was wasting my time, but i would have enjoyed the paintings and stories more had i not been trying to suck some inspiration out of them.

it's like the muse thing - if you wait for her to show up, you're screwed. if you try to force her to show herself, you're screwed. you have to show up yourself, write for the sake of writing, find inspiration in the everyday, be patient with the BIG STUFF.

i knew that. so what the hell was i doing?

ah well, better late than not at all. i relaxed, got back to writing one song at a time, tried to be ready should the big one appear in its glory.

and something happened. there's no way i could tell you without it turning in to a much bigger thing than it was. it was huge and tiny at once. enough to weave a thread through my next few songs. natural enough. i was going through something, i wrote about it.

then it was my birthday. lunch backstage at the Mariposa Folk Festival, my beautiful friend Susan, whom i call Suse-my-muse, because she is (and she calls me her "party spirit", because i am), gives me a book. not a book. THE book. this book, one, makes me realize that i have already begun The Project, and two, is full of thousands of ideas which i could riff on to complete many projects.

i'm trying to be calm as i read through it. i'm not marking it, but i will the second time through, which i know will begin as soon as i'm done the first read.

i am also not telling you what the Project is, because i am extremely superstitious when it comes to these things. and a little abashed after telling some folks that The Group of Seven thing was happening.

wish me luck.

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