2014: Time to get Uncomfortable

Happy New Year!

2013 was a really exciting year for me. I was finally here in Los Angeles. I was pursuing full-time my dream of being a film composer. It was wonderful getting to know the film and music community in LA. Amazing things happened and I worked on a lot of projects. Here’s a quick summary of what I was up to:

3 features
1 feature-length doc
11 shorts
2 concert works (one work for orchestra and didgeridoo, one song cycle for voice and cello)
1 game
1 original song for a film & 3 original songs for a musical

You can listen to some highlights on my soundcloud page.

However, 2013 is done and 2014 has begun. What now? How do I take it to the next level?

I believe the key lies in getting uncomfy. We’ve all seen that pic floating around fb: there’s a small circle labeled “Your Comfort Zone” and then a larger circle far away from it labeled “Where the Magic Happens”. I think they may be onto something.

I am reading another excellent Todd Henry called Die Empty. (Accidental Creative is also great) He has a whole chapter on this and his principal idea is (and I quote) “To make a valuable contribution, you have to get uncomfortable and embrace lifelong growth and skill development.” He believes that if an idea of something makes you uncomfortable, that is a clear sign that you need to explore further! He also believes that staying in your comfort zone leads to mediocrity and apathy. I have no intention of going down that path so it is no time to rest on laurels.

I’ve had the pleasure of listening to composer Thomas Newman speak a number of times. One major aspect of his composing process is to bring ideas he has written to a trusted ensemble on musicians he has worked with for a long time. They workshop these ideas together, improvising and developing the concepts. Every time Newman talked about this, I would get very uncomfortable. The idea of giving up the control of the music and letting others work on it, maybe criticize it or (heaven forbid!) change it, it really stressed me out.

Often after composers chat for a while they finish the conversation with “we should collaborate sometime.” I have said this a lot, but recently a fantastic new composer friend actually followed up and wanted to schedule a time. I was so nervous! But thankfully I had Todd’s words fresh in my mind and I went for it and made a date. I am happy to say that the collaboration was a success. I learned a lot, little things that I think that are really going to help me moving forward.

I have learned my lesson for now, although this may well be one of those things I have to learn over and over. For now, let me wish you an uncomfortable 2014 where you stretch, grow and accomplish great things!



6 thoughts on “2014: Time to get Uncomfortable

  1. If someone were to ask me, “where do you see yourself in 3-5 years?” My answer would be where you are now. As someone who has just started out following their dream of being a film composer, I found your post really inspiring. Best of luck this year, hope it’s an uncomfortable one full of magic!

    • Thanks for your comment Aaron! Great to hear you are pursuing your dream. Did you read my post “A Convoluted Journey”? Sounds like you have had a really interesting journey to this point and I am positive all of it will inform your current goals. Please stay in touch. Onwards and Upwards! Cheers, Catherine.

      • I just read your “A Convoluted Journey” post and it’s definitely one that will stay with me for a while. Glad you’re on the right path now. My “Ah-Ha!” moment came last month when I was performing some Christmas carols on my accordion and I realised that I enjoyed it more then I enjoyed making films. Music is my true calling. But whilst it was fun to perform, I don’t really see myself as a performer, as I enjoy composing on my accordion more than just playing other peoples music. Discovering and creating new melodies and sounds, and realising that it is me that is creating them. I finally feel like I’ve landed on the right path as well, and even though the path may be long, this post is sure to keep me on course. My goal is set! Thank you, Aaron.

  2. Good for you, going gangbusters as usual. Fantastic. Loved both this post and your convoluted journey one too. My very best wishes for a very uncomfortable and highly rewarding 2014. xx, Mariellen

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