Inspiration in the most unexpected places

I have a day job.

It’s not something super fancy or anything to be proud of, but I make a decent salary, have benefits, and get a few vacation and sick days here and there. It’s pretty comfy.

The problem with my day job is that it’s taking time away from writing (and taking my sanity, bit by bit, with every inane phone call I get from a woman in Minnesota who can’t find her phone’s power on button). This is where it gets a little bit interesting.

Last week, I started taking phone calls for a new area of my company. We do cell phone service and domain name registration – I’m more well versed in the phone side of things, and am still learning how to deal with domain names and email issues. A man called in yesterday trying to get his email started on his Mac, which immediately gave me two problems as a) I’m still learning about email and b) I can’t stand Macs and as a result have no idea how their OS works. (It seems a very strange oversight to me not to have a “home” type launcher or a more accurate search bar.)

This gentleman was on the phone with me for over an hour. We slowly got email to work on his tablet, then his laptop, but at last glance we were still trying to work out getting email onto his desktop. He took the time while we were waiting for downloads or updates to ask a bit about me, and I soon revealed that I’d rather be working in music, and that I’ve started writing songs as a gateway to that ideal. He was very impressed (though he has no proof of whether or not I have any talent!) and regaled me with stories of his Californian friends who knew people who knew people. Apparently the Beach Boys liked to rent out rooms in peoples’ mansions for $20,000 a week and fill them with sand. Whatever gets you going creatively, I guess.

This gentleman and I struggled to get his email working (Safari couldn’t open it, so we downloaded FireFox) to no avail. He sympathised with the difficulty of starting any creative endeavour. “You’re not Elton John,” he said (and I laughed a little as my sister’s nickname for me is, in fact, Kiki Dee), “you can’t write a song in an instant. Candle in the Wind was written in 5 minutes on the back of a napkin. Don’t worry about that. You’re not competing with Elton John. One day, you will be, but by then you’ll be able to write a song in 5 minutes, too. Until then, don’t worry about it.”

I told him I want to write an EP by the end of the year. “How many songs does that entail?” he asked me. “About 8-12.” “Well that’s perfect!” he said, “just write one song a month. That’s all you need. Don’t worry about writing any more than that; even if you have some songs you don’t like, you’ll still have the songs you aimed for.” I couldn’t deny this.

I’ve been worrying lately that I’m not writing enough, or well enough, or fast enough. This anonymous gentleman from California – a lawyer who couldn’t open his email – reassured me that I don’t have to be at that level right now. Baby steps. If you look at a mountaintop right away you’ll miss the basic steps that get you there. I’ll get there.