by Marty Dodson
Feb 1, 2018
In the past week, I’ve had conversations with several SongTownians who were thinking about quitting songwriting. They were on the verge of never writing another song. Their frustration at their lack of commercial success had proved to be a crushing blow to them. In every case, they had turned over their joy to the fickle favor of “the market”.
I encouraged them all to think about WHY they started writing in the first place. For most of us, we didn’t start writing because we wanted money, fame or success. We started writing because writing fed our souls. It allowed us to express our feelings. It was our outlet. Our voice. Our passion.
Letting commercial success, or the lack of it rob you of your joy and passion is a tragedy. And, I always share this story when I hear about someone wanting to give up songwriting after many years.
One time, my wife and I went hiking. We were on the trail to what was supposed to be a stunning waterfall. We hiked for hours and began to wonder if we were on the wrong trail. We finally reached a plateau and I checked the time. I began to worry that we were not going to be able to get back to our car before dark, and we didn’t have a flashlight. So, we turned around and went back without seeing the waterfall. When we reached the parking lot, we ran into some other hikers. They said “Wasn’t that amazing?”. We admitted that we had turned around before we saw the waterfall. They asked us where we turned around. When we described where we turned back, they said “You were only 100 yards away.”. We had been just around the corner from the waterfall, but we turned back out of fear.
I was a “struggling” songwriter until one day in 2004. I believe it was a Tuesday. I walked into a co-write and wrote what would become the most played song of 2005. I made enough money to pay for 3 kids to finish college, to pay off all of my debts and to go on several really nice vacations. What if I had quit on Monday? How was I to know that success lay just around the corner?
The people who succeed in life are those who don’t quit, even when quitting seems like the most logical option. Don’t give up. The waterfall could be right around the corner. But, even if it isn’t, there is power in staying the course and chasing your passion regardless of the external rewards that come from it.
Keep on keeping on. ~MD
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