Have you ever been to a place where creativity seems to lurk around every corner?
On our first night in New Orleans, Jonathan and I wandered the French Quarter’s quiet streets and listened to the city’s street musicians. From five piece bands to solo performers, these storytellers provided a soundtrack to our weekend that plays in my head months later.
We rode the streetcar home one night and the sounds of jazz floated in and out of the car’s windows. We couldn’t always see the musicians but their music still beckoned me to lay my head on Jonathan’s shoulder and be fully present. Those musicians didn’t know they had a captive audience, and yet they still continued to play.
Sometimes as a writer I think my audience needs to be big. But an audience of one, the right one, is better than an audience of hundreds who don’t care.
What really struck me about New Orleans is just how many musicians fill the streets and nightclubs. I imagine many of them aren’t making much money, and they’re probably juggling multiple jobs to pursue their passion.
Recently I listened to an interview with Shauna Niequist. In it she says, “I tend to not believe in the myth of inspiration…I believe that it’s my job to live in such a way that inspiration is available to me every time I sit down and open my laptop. Because I don’t have the luxury of waiting for it to strike like a lighting bolt.”
On the days when I get in my own head—when I start writing for the big jazz bar audience—I’m going to remember that my writing only needs to touch one person for it to make a difference.
I’m going to remember that I might not always be able to see my audience, but it doesn’t mean they’re not reading.
And I’m going to remember what Shauna says, that inspiration is available to me every time I sit down to write. Just like those street musicians who show up night after night because they love to play with melody, I will continue to show up nap time after nap time because I love to play with words.
Sometimes everyone will walk by without much of a glance.
Sometimes people will throw a buck in the jar.
Someday, maybe, there will be a clamoring crowd.
But more often than not, there will be just one person who by the low glow of her iPhone is touched by what I create.
And I write for her.