Collaboration disables fear

2020: THE YEAR of COLLABORATION continues. 

How often do we feel something we create has to become Something for it to matter? That it must “prove” its worth, value, and, most subtly, our validity as endeavor-ers? 

Many artists will tell you, collaboration scares them, because they just want what they make to be good. 

There is something wonderful about not caring. I myself do not get there very often. I care all the time, and too much, about everything. For me, caring is a way of feeling part of a community striving for high ideals when much of my day is spent bringing things to life alone, whether it is a spreadsheet, a poem, a song, or a drawing. 

Hilariously, caring makes me feel like I am doing something, when I’m not. That I’m part of something, even if it only exists in my mind. I can become very loyal to its mandates: principally, be good at what you’re doing. You don’t exist if you’re not good. Better to not make something than risk not being good and not belonging. 

It's not true, but it is incredibly seductive. Sometimes, it feels better to be smart and right and to have principals, than it does to wrestle something new from the void. So we do what feels good in the middle of our busy lives. Who can blame us. 

There is one workaround that I have founf: working with other people. Collaboration. 

A few times a year, I get to teach a day-long songwriting workshop at the Old Town School of Folk Music alongside master songwriters Steve Dawson and Sue Demel. 

In one of my sections, we did a co-writing exercise where one person writes a word. They hand it to the person on the right. The next person writes a 3-line poem, then hands it to the next person on the right, who uses color to express how the word makes them feel, then hands it to the person on the right. That person writes a final, 4-line poem.   From one such collaboration, grew this: 

“Clouds are drifting overhead 

every changing, ever new 

now you see it, now you don’t 

different vista, different view”

On 4/24 at The Outtaspace, we are doing a whole show of collaboratively built pieces:  Haiku Milieu: Collaboration.  Hope you can join us.

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