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Go With The Flow! (of YOUR life...)
By Paula Carpenter - 06/16/2004 - 04:03 PM EDT

Surprise! I'm addressing the topic of 'sliding out of the saddle ' of the music industry...for a bit of time...and what kind of prominence these situations, seemingly 'interference in our dreams', should take in our lives. (NOTE: The next column will deal with GETTING BACK INTO THE SADDLE, after a brief hiatus or after a postponement of the goal...)

It's true, that now and then, the bigger picture of LIFE, whether it be family concerns, other business dealings, or any number of things, forces us to take a brief hiatus from our pursuit of the songwriting/music business success we are trying to achieve. I know this, because it has happened to
me! So, knowing that probably not every one of you is blessed with the ability to focus solely on your songwriting career, I assume that at times, it happens to you. I know for a fact that it has happened/ is happening to one of my songwriting consulting clients, even now -- one success is overshadowing
a pursuit of a musical dream -- and my advice has been to "go with the blessing at hand"-- and come back to songwriting when the CURRENT success has been paid full attention, has been handled, enjoyed, and relished!

In my own case, the rapid growth and success of my husband's and my very active cattle ranching business, a very definite blessing, forced me to place my very active songwriting career in a position other than primary, where it had been for many years. The growth of one successful business (the cattle ranch...yes really, those yummy CERTIFIED ANGUS BEEF steaks you enjoy....start from ranches like ours!) dictated that, for a time, I needed to become 'chief marketer/office manager/ production sale hostess/business partner' in a very time/work-intensive business which was indeed critical to our financial future.

So, I evaluated the situation, saw what needed to be done, and even after success with a Billboard Top Five country hit, and a Jessica Simpson cut... (please visit me at www.starbrightmusic.com to see more about this...and drop me a note!) did what I had to do: because there are only 24 hours in a day, I wrote fewer songs, and made fewer trips to Nashville and L.A. to visit my co-publishers and writing collaborators. It was, and always should be in situations such as these, a matter of what was the most central or crucial element in the fabric of our family at the moment .... growing the ranch, or being in Nashville every 8 weeks, as I had previously done.

The decision I made was that I needed to be an integral part of this, my husband's and my joint dream...to go hand in hand with him, to be a part of the ranching conferences, to support him
in his prominent positions in the ranching industry, to produce and hostess our own ranch's multi-annual Production Sales/Luncheons, to learn about the details of registered Angus cattle seedstock operations, and to be the chief office manager and marketing overseer...jobs which took my precious concentration away from my much beloved music industry, for a couple of years.

Now...did I miss out in the music industry while I took that time to focus on our Texas dream? Of course I did! Anyone who thinks they can 'have it all, all the time' is dreaming. The old saying that 'you can please all of the people part of the time, and part of the people all of the time, but you cannot please ALL the people ALL of the time!" is very astute, and can certainly be adapted to my own situation, and more generally, to ANYONE who is a multi-talented multi-tasker. It would read more like: YOU CAN DO ALL THE JOBS PERFECTLY SOME OF THE TIME, and YOU CAN DO SOME OF THE JOBS PERFECTLY ALL OF THE TIME, BUT YOU CANNOT DO ALL THE JOBS PERFECTLY ALL THE TIME! How true it is. Choices must be made.

Now...I can hear some of you thinking: "Oh, but not moi! No, I am super-man/super-woman....I can juggle it all!" Wanna bet?? Sure, you can, for a time. Maybe even for years. But one day, it catches up with your brain, your emotions, your psyche. People I know who try to do EVERYTHING, ALWAYS, TOP-NOTCH .... eventually cave to depression, anxiety, unhappiness, total stress!! We can all 'put on a mask', and bluff through it for awhile...but eventually, it catches up with your brain / spirit / emotions...and you find that you are...a mess.

Let me refer to the above-mentioned client of mine: this lady is a successful author of books. She has been written up in national magazines, and is a very talented writer/photographer...and...she is a very talented musician and songwriter as well! Now, in the pursuit of her songwriting dream, so far, it has not been possible for her to spend large amounts of time traveling to music publishing cities, getting acquainted with publishers, other gifted writers, and so on. Why? Because the success of her books, photography and other already-cemented pursuits keeps cropping up and 'getting in the way' of the songwriting success, because it takes so much of her time! She called recently for a consulting session, frustrated at the response she has been getting from established publishers to the great material she has been mailing them, and I believe was truly surprised by my answer: what I basically said, was, 'so what's the problem? Look at life as a bigger picture...you are this successful writer ALREADY... you have a book tour coming up...you are up for another award...and so on. You have a happy family. You have amazing talent. Does it occur to you, that to do right now what it takes to succeed in songwriting (the traveling, the persistence)...would overwhelm you, and so stress you out, that your joy in the current success would be overshadowed, if not lost?'

I think she was quite surprised-- I mean, with my being a 'music business consultant', and all. But, I try hard to help people not only with SONGWRITING.... but with REAL LIFE ANSWERS to that question that my articles try to address -- "WHY NOT ME?" I like to think that when a client comes to me for advice/consulting for their overall music career, I can help them sort things out with an approach that is not just about musical talent and song critiquing...though that is very important, obviously.

In this client's case, her "WHY NOT ME?" answer had NOTHING to do with how talented she was/is. It had everything to do with timing....my answer was, to concentrate on the blessing at hand, the success and notoriety that is staring her in the face...in a different field. I encouraged her to fully ENJOY that part of her life, without the distraction of her musical pursuits...for a time, anyway. Because, my belief is, talent doesn't go away. During the time she is 'basking in the glow' of her book-writing success, of course, she should keep on writing songs, keep on studying songwriting, keep on working on a plan for 'how to succeed'. But, the approach that was only frustrating her and stressing her out (making contact w/publishers via email and mail and phone)... needed to be dropped. Since it wasn't working, the next step was to start visiting music centers regularly with her songs, making appointments with publishers to let them get to know her, etc. And frankly, it just wouldn't fit into her already-successful, and FULL...schedule...for now. After the 'glow' of the books has worn off, after the book tours are over, will she still be a talented songwriter?? You bet she will.

More importantly, she will not have blunted or stunted the JOY and FULFILLMENT and EXCITEMENT found with the books' successes, by adding to her already overwhelming schedule trips to Nashville or L.A. to pitch herself and her songs to music publishers. In short: GO WITH THE BLESSING AT HAND...GO WITH THE FLOW OF YOUR LIFE! I mean, it makes total sense to me, that to fully feel the THRILL of one type of success, to learn and grow and evolve from THAT experience...can only enhance future songs, one would think! Not to mention impress the heck out of the song-pluggers and publishers she calls on...once she has GONE WITH THE FLOW of this current success, and a bit further down the road, has the ability to really FOCUS on the music and song part of her life.

Some of you may be thinking...this sounds like a cop-out...to back down on your pursuit of a given dream for awhile. Well, I used to think the same, but found that, trying to DO IT ALL, ALL THE
TIME...leads to nothing but emotional overload, family stress, and mental blocks due to trying to handle it all!
Overloading the mind, which we as creative people MUST HAVE IN WORKING ORDER, in order to succeed...is not the smartest thing--c'mon, think about it! So, why not try this: Sometimes, depending on the hand that life deals you, BACK DOWN on the pursuit of ONE dream, because it may not be TIME yet....so you can enjoy the OTHER blessings/successes at hand. That dream/talent you have isn't going away, now, is it? If it does, you never had it.

This holds true with families, as well. Maybe the SUCCESS YOU ARE HAVING is not in book-writing or photography, as this one client of mine is having. Maybe yours is this: you have THE GREATEST KIDS in the WORLD! They are fun, happy, well-adjusted, great kids....and your travel schedule is really bothering you...or them....you think it's hurting them somewhat.

I experienced this, early in my songwriting career, way before the ranch opportunity/success came about. My twin girls, I must say, have been the greatest joy of my life! There is no song, no award, no
chart-topping success....that can even hold a candle to the joy of raising fantastic kids! There were times in my pursuits that I had to really get real, to evaluate, how will this trip/my being gone for this period of 7 days...affect my girls?? If the answer was a big, negative, I postponed a trip. If the answer was that my husband was not traveling at the moment, and he was there for them, then I knew it would be fine, and I could proceed with the career goal, knowing that the family goal was in good shape. This holds true with marriage relationships as well...sometimes my evaluation of 'should I do this or that for my musical career', hinged on how it would affect my relationship with my husband. Should I work with this person in Nashville? Does it represent a threat to my marriage? If I thought 'yes', I took a different path....to protect THE BLESSING...to GO WITH THE FLOW OF MY LIFE...which, thank God, has been a very, very good flow.

How about yours? Are you like my client? Do you HAVE THE DREAM, but NOT THE TIME?? Maybe it is a FUTURE dream, but certainly NOT a pipe dream...just something that should perhaps come later in the 'big time-line of your life'. Ever think about it that way?

Now...as to 'getting back into the saddle'....while that will be the topic of my NEXT column...let me assure you that it can happen...it has happened for me! After the ranching success, my husband's
health necessitated our selling the ranching business...again, not what we wanted, but it was what NEEDED TO BE DONE...to GO WITH THE FLOW that life was giving us, and that in turn, signalled
my return to more active SONGWRITING PURSUITS and more successes....more about getting 'back in the sadde'... next time.

Till then, just remember that maybe you need to "GO WITH THE FLOW" of your life....and maybe that is a very good answer to the amended question, "WHY NOT ME...YET?"


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