I get a million dollar idea every day. But then I search for the domain name at godaddy, and it’s been taken. Pitching story ideas – be they fact or fiction – the response is often, “we already did that.” There’s a reason the joke: “it’s Downton Abbey meets Orange is the New Black” isn’t really a joke. And I’m already wondering how I’m going to keep this blog freshly fed.
Putting aside debates about whether there are only 7 stories in the world, it still seems harder and harder to not feel: Oh shit, someone already did that, said that, made a similar observation. Which is fine if, say, you’re writing a TV procedural or serial-killer story, which we seem to have a voracious appetite for. But what if you hope to express something original? If we can all post a story or observation and it’s searchable to the world, we are less and less able to pretend we are unique. Maybe that’s just hubris, to think we have something new to say. But if we’re getting paid to write or pitch, how can writers stay relevant? As we blog and write and make videos and movies, are we all repeating ourselves? It’s enough to make you a nihilist.
But Thursday night I went to see Chris Rael’s latest incarnation of Church of Betty at The Bell House in Gowanus. Certainly musicians face the same issue of songs being written about the same themes over and over. And there are only so many notes one can play on a scale. But when I see live music, I am reminded that there are infinite ways to put them together. And another exponentially different set of ways to interpret the notes that become the songs based on what combination of musicians and instruments you invite to the stage. No one illustrates this better that Rael, a musician and songwriter extraordinaire. His love of the art of musical interpretation and storytelling is infectious. After listening to the ten or so musicians he’d brought together to overflow the stage in the front room, I am reassured that we won’t run out of things to say and ways to say them as long as we keep the passion for expression front and center.
Do yourself a favor and download Rael’s Cross of Gold.
Or better yet, treat yourself to the whole CD.