My retirement draws ever closer. I say I don’t think much about it, it that’s not entirely true. When I’m at work, it’s inevitable that someone asks me about it. When I’m at home, I’m wishing I’d already started my next life, so I don’t have to concern myself with body armor, calls for service, and prosecutors any more.
It gets worse when I find myself busy doing something I enjoy — writing, listening to new music, playing my guitars — only to realize I have to stop and get myself ready for work. Such is adulting. Only now that’s about to change. I’ll still have to work, but not as much. It’s a very nice feeling.
More than once, I’ve been asked how I expect to make a living in music journalism. The answer to that question is simple: I don’t.
When I informed my publisher of my forthcoming book plans, I also mentioned my retirement. God bless her, she was quick to remind me that next to nobody is able to survive off book royalties. I couldn’t help but laugh as I responded to that email, assuring her that this was the furthest thing from my mind.
People get into what they do for any number of reasons. Some see an opportunity to make a statement, and express something long repressed. Others see it as a chance to help bring about change. And yeah, some do it because they think they can make a buck.
Music journalism allows you to make statements. You can even bring about change through your enthusiasm for certain artists and records. But one thing I will never do is make a lot of money. The bucks will be few and far between.
This baffles my friends, many of whom are driven by the acquisition of money (ironic, given our low paying career choice). “If there’s no money in it,” they ask, “then why do you do it?”
The answer to that question is also simple:
I do it because I enjoy it. I do it because I LOVE to do it. I do it because it’s fun!
Twenty-five years of writing police reports wears on you. Writing about the wrongdoings and transgressions of others can be flat-out exhausting. How many times can you write about a burglary, a robbery, a shooting, or an assault without being driven to distraction? When writing about a car accident feels light and carefree, it’s time to find something else to do.
When my book was reviewed in Prog magazine a while back, the reviewer accused me of gushing over some of the musicians I talked about. Well so what? My approach now is basically the same as it was then: I’m a fan. I find joy in my writing. It’s my Happy Place.
Who doesn’t want to spend as much time as possible in their Happy Place?
The exploration of music is enjoyable. Getting to know musicians is a wonderful byproduct. Do they want something from me? Yes, frequently. But every now and then, you just might get to know someone, and connect on a deeper level. Not often, but sometimes.
The music business can be a cesspool of insincerity. So I’m always happy to make a friendly connection that sticks. That takes a layer of grime off things. If I’m being paid to be cold and objective, I can do that. It’s easy. But if this particular pursuit nets me a few friends inside the industry, then I’m happy about that. It beats the hell out of trying to befriend criminals.
You have no idea how wonderful it is to spend time talking to people about a shared, positive passion that doesn’t involve bad news. Some people are driven to get to the sinister root of the matter. I am not so compelled. Not now. Not unless it’s absolutely necessary.
There are plenty of reasons to be cynical and bitter toward the music industry. I’m choosing not to do that. A quarter century of law enforcement, and the boatloads of crap that come with it, has given me more than enough reasons to be bitter and cynical. I’d like to climb out of that sewer, if you don’t mind.
And if my more positive, less bothersome approach is an issue for you, feel free to ignore me. You won’t hurt my feelings.
I do what I do because I love doing it. That’s all the reason I need. It’s all the reason you need.
So let’s get back to it.
Would you like to have your album reviewed? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org