A New Direction, Thanks to Neil Gaiman…..

I have decided I want to take this blog in a new direction. Up to this point it has basically been news on what I am up to and, I don’t know about you, but I sometimes find that to be a little too self-indulgent for my liking. Moreover, news of my doings doesn’t really contribute to the greater good except to maybe inspire others to follow their dream. And that is truly what I want: to inspire, to encourage, to do my small part to help you accomplish something wonderful in your life. Therefore I have decided to make the focus of this blog sharing things that I have seen and heard which have encouraged me and helped me compose another day. Hopefully by sharing the wisdom and awesomeness of others, we can all be uplifted. Sound good? I will still have a Catherine News Update  at the end just in case you need your fix…..

Getting back to Neil Gaiman:

I am clearly late to the party, as this link of him speaking is a whole year old! It is his commencement address to the Class of 2012 at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. This is a brilliant and inspiring speech about his own journey as an author and his advice for those also embarking on the long and winding road of the freelance artist. I encourage you to get comfy, maybe pour yourself a nice glass of wine or open a cold beer and listen to every freakin’ word Gaiman says because it is all gold. I listened last night, watching him as he spoke and his words have hung around me all day today like a beautiful inspirational aura.

Redesign Education, who blogged about this speech, summarized the points Gaiman made which is very helpful, but the things that stood out to me weren’t on that list, so I will list them now.

1. Walk Towards the Mountain

He says to picture your ultimate goal (for me: making a good living off composing music) as a Mountain and then make sure that every thing you do, every choice, every project is helping you move towards the mountain, not away from it.

I love this idea. When I get discouraged, my wonderful husband says to me “just look how far you have come” and it is so true. Five years ago I was very discouraged, barely composing music and certainly not writing for film and media like I am now. Four years ago I still had a day job, now composing music is how I spend every day! Three years ago I had only scored two films and now I have scored over 20. Just six months ago I was living in Seattle, now I live in Los Angeles and this move is helping my film scoring dreams come to life.

The other thing my wonderful husband insists on is celebrating every single milestone, no matter how small. Every time I have a tiny win, we celebrate. We are checking off those mile markers as we head towards the Mountain and it feels great!

2. A List of Things You Want To Do

Gaiman said he never had a career path in mind. He only had a list of things he wanted to accomplish in his life which (if memory serves me) he wrote down when he was 15. He wanted to write a novel, a comic book,  a movie and a Doctor Who episode. Well, he has checked all of those off and a few of them many times over!

I love this idea. We do only live once and we all have dreams. The idea of living our lives as a to do list of our heart’s desires seems fantastical to me and yet we have the opportunity to do Just That! What is on your list? Mine includes scoring a number of really good films that millions of people watch, spending a lot of time in Europe, being able to travel as much as I want and making enough money so my husband can have the option to quit work AND buy the car of his dreams – I can’t say which car it is because it seems to change quite frequently but it will be made by Porsche, I am certain.

I love that his list was not easy or small. Writing an episode of Doctor Who is (in my mind) a Big Freaking Deal. The fact that it was on his list, and he has now accomplished it twice over, is a really  beautiful thing. Therefore I am making sure my list includes my wildest dreams. To achieve big you must dream big…..

3. Imposter Syndrome

Every since I have been composing (and loving it) I have feared that I will be discovered and called out to be a fraud. Who am I to call myself a composer?! I know people think I am nice and everything but am I really any good? All those  thoughts hang around like a bad smell. I had no idea others felt the same way. Gaiman speaks of this Very Thing in this speech and it truly warms my heart. It is even a documented phenomenon!

I have been really curious about this every since I heard John Powell speak of it last year at the LA Sundance Composers Lab. He announced that he was quitting film scoring for a while to spend time with his family and study Bach. He said that he felt like there were holes in his abilities as a composer and he was just waiting for someone to call him on it. This was John Powell, the brilliant composer! I was blown away and encouraged, all in one. Afterwards I had the pleasure of talking with him. I got up the guts to ask him this question: “John, do you ever fear someone will find you out to be a fraud?” He said “I flushed as soon as you said that.” He completely understood what I was talking about. Amazing. Hearing both Gaiman and Powell speak to their struggles with this phenomenon has been so encouraging for me. Have you ever felt this way?

I hope my thoughts on Gaiman’s speech have been helpful for you. I woud love to hear your thoughts to, so don’t hesitate to be in touch. Also, if you come across encouraging articles, ideas, websites, tweets or anything of the sort, please pass it along! Now as promised……

Catherine News Update

Currently I am finishing up two wonderful projects: horror/comedy feature  The Last Buck Hunt and short film on challenging topic of domestic violence All Things Hidden. You can hear the finale cue for ATH here. I have the documentary film The Art of Walking Barefoot coming my way this summer. Filming went very well in Thailand and they are now busily working away on the edit. I can’t wait to get started! Also I will scoring the fantastic and eerie short Stop Requested. More news soon……


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