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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Musician vs. Author

I was listening to Bob Seeger’s “Katmandu” on the radio driving home from work today as was kind of critiquing the song as I was listening to it. Part of it he was just singing it in that classic Seeger fashion and parts you could tell he was putting everything he had into the vocals. As I thought about it, I realized if I was to be a singer I would try and do songs that didn’t total max out my efforts, because if you have a very long career and have to keep doing the same songs for the next forty years you won’t be able to consistently hit those fine extreme points later in life.

Fortunately for singers and musicians they only need really hit perfection once in a studio to record that best track they can to be played by millions of people for years to come and it will always be that perfect once in a life time shot of their performance. In concerts people realize it is a live performance and very rarely does a singer or band sound as good in concert as they do on the professionally mastered CD.

As a writer we have the best of all worlds. My first book “Whisper”, was published prematurely, but I didn't know that at that time, I was just trying to prove a point to myself. I had finished a book, it had been edited and I had spent several months making corrections to it. It was the best I had to offer at the time. As I have stated many times before, as it was my first book it would forever be my first and worst book I would ever do. After it was published it was brought to my attention that the English and Grammar still needed some work. Unlike the singer or music band, I am having it re-edited and can download a new revised edition in the near future.

Just recently, both my first two books received new and improved covers, which look much more attractive and professional than the originals. The author doesn’t need one perfect take to be finished. In subsequent editions he can re-edit, add commentary at the beginning or end of the book, and even change the cover multiple times with different editions. Each time the book hopefully gets better and better. Even one of my favorite authors whose books only came out originally as paperbacks, has recently been re-releasing each of his books in hard back, new editions. Forty years from now when I am at the end of my career my books may all be better than when they were originally published. After I am dead and gone new and revised editions may still be able to be published and re-released better than before.

I will never have one of those performances at the end of my career where people are happy to see an artist, the original artist perform his work and go Wow, but they don’t sound any where as good as they did twenty or thirty years ago, or as they do on the original digital copy on my MP3 player.

A few artists have done other work that was never released until after their death, like Jim Reeves, who had several new release hits after he had passed. If I ever do get so lucky to stay at home and write full time and get blessed enough to live a long life by statistics standards, I hope to finish several novels to leave behind for my wife and children or publishing company to release after my death as a gift to all I leave behind. Maybe something like an extra sequel to past and long finished series of books I finished and moved on from years before. A blast from the past on different levels for all my fans to rally behind and celebrate the passing of one of there favorite authors. It’s just a thought.

As far as singer/musician/band or being an author, I choose being an author. I don’t have to rehash old work over and over again for my entire career, and from time to time can begin a fresh with new characters, different places, different genres, and from a more mature and experienced writer with much more skill built up over time. With that in mind it is sad how writing contracts with publishers pushing for continued books in the same series drives some authors to cookie cutter books with the same characters for years on end. A writer should be able to be free and reach for ever increasing vistas, new challenges, in order to stay creative and fresh for the readers benefit as well as their ability to grow and mature as an author.

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