This past week I’ve been religiously listening to a new artist. After getting hooked on a few of her songs, I turned to YouTube to find acoustic sessions featuring this artist (because e.v.e.r.y. song sounds better acoustically, in my opinion). The video I clicked on was one of “NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert,” in which musicians play a few songs behind a tiny desk for a teeny tiny audience. It’s quaint and acoustic most of the times, which is all that matters. After playing two of her popular songs, the artist figured she would play new one. She prefaced the song with it’s working title, “sad song 11,” since she already has 10 sad songs. The audience chuckled and she thanked them for their “courteous laughter”.
Even though this side conversation had nothing to do with me enjoying acoustic music, it struck a cord with me. As incredible and talented as this artist is, she openly acknowledged her weakness: her tendency to write sad songs repeatedly. She was self deprecating about it. Not ashamed of her work, because she loves her music. She performs her songs and markets her art for a living. Nonetheless, she judged herself for sticking to habit. I won’t read further into her, but the feelings she was displaying are so common among writers. Yes, we write what we know, which isn’t always easy to reinvent, but it’s even more true that we retreat to our established niche and write how we write best- however that may be.
This week I submitted a poem that scares the shit out of me. I honestly think I spat the poem on the page because I was so overwhelmed. I had spent all of my time consumed in the design of the poem, which involved minor photoshop skills that I severely lack. Not only was the creation of this poem complicated, it was foreign territory for me. I wanted to write sad song 11. I wanted to write down the left hand side of the page about my grandma. I was no where near my safe house, my niche. I’m weirdly embarrassed of putting something out there that felt so bad and so not me. But, this is the first step in changing my writing style and embracing all those insane (and admirable) formats I read in workshop from you all.
Tell me about your niche. Where is your comfort zone? How do you want to expand?