A year ago, I was asked to play as part of Sinners Circle 14 here in New London, CT. I took the stage with new friends, Pat Daddona, Jake Carpenter and Marcho Frucht and had a blast.

I doubt that many knew how important and symbolic that performance was for me – I don’t know that I even did at the time.

It was the first manifestation of my commitment to my muse, to this way of life, to truly being a story-teller in fiction, song and verse; my natural self center-stage as opposed to uncaged in moments stolen from my corporate shape.

It’s really hard for me to believe that it’s only been a year since Sinner’s Circle 14 – there’s been so much going on. I published an unexpected novel, have performed fairly regularly solo, was very grateful to be involved in the Good Sponge Sampler and, in a very small way, to the two tribute events for The Reducers. I’ve helped get an independent bookstore to open downtown, an open-mic underway. I’ve launched a great app for musicians, MySetlist.co. I’ve begun fairly regular live poetry events online.

I’ve sang. And I’ve written. And I’ve collaborated.

Which is what I set out to do in 2011.

Yet, I find myself here now, a year later, experiencing an artistic crisis as I often do. As I posted on Facebook a few days ago:

Yeah, every so often it hits me. Like tonight. It’s not a nice feeling.

[and I have to thank my Facebook friends who reacted with kindness and love in response to that post]

I’ve been working through the pieces of it, seeking to own who and what I am in this moment. And here’s where I’ve got to.

Every so often, like any artist, I experience doubt and frustration, usually triggered by something contextual – a noisy audience, a bad review, a new piece that just won’t come together – and my inner critic begins to whisper. I know this. We know this. You don’t extend energy into the creative arts without accepting this ‘tax’ on the muse.

But this felt different. It wasn’t doubt, not consciously.

Of course, I was second-guessing the long-range plot of the new book – but at the same time, I know that I’ll work through it and Rufus’ journey will be cool.

Of course, I was hating the new recordings, either the tone of the guitar wasn’t right, or my voice wasn’t confident, but I knew the songs were there, that I could re-sing, re-track and boost what needed boosting.

Of course, I was missing performing my songs live with collaborators, even while solo shows were getting good reviews, and my lead work with Anne Castellano & The Smoke was keeping my rocker juiced.

Of course, I was unable to find the musicians I need to join me in this quest for the unique, engaging voice I know will only strengthen with collaboration.

All of these ‘Of courses’, tightening me up, putting me back on my heels, bringing pain in my lower back, a clench of the teeth.

In the middle of it all, an offer to re-enter corporate life for a year – which I had to seriously consider and which, ultimately, never came to fruition.

Me all tight again – yet this time, it didn’t hook self-doubt, not really – I saw it for what it was, contextual angst.; frustration and unnecessary boundaries.

One way to change the context would be to move to a new place, yet a re-start wouldn’t change any of the above – except, maybe, providing an expanded pool of musicians to draw upon.

One way to change the context would be to focus on one thing only, yet I know that doesn’t work for me – I’m the master plate-spinner.

It took about a week of living in this tightness, this constriction, for an image to become my metaphor

[largely thanks to my girls’ near incessant watching of Animal Planet]

a snake coiling before it strikes. It pulls it’s body back, tightens its muscles; a spring compressing. Then, all that stored muscular energy releases in a dazzling attack reaching far beyond its previous resting position.

That’s me. Coiled. Ready to strike beyond my resting position.

I’m learning that this tightness serves a purpose; I’m just getting me ready to do what needs to be done.

And there’s one more ‘Of course’

[of course]

I’ve been here before and, of course, I’ll be here again.

Right now, though, I’m ready for what’s next.