2020

Covid & Creativity 

by J. Noelle

I write to instrumentals produced by up-and-coming producers. I listen to countless instrumentals until one grabs me. I don’t write right away. I feel the beat. I live with it until I know what words should accompany It. Producers often title their beats and I believe it’s usually what they subconsciously want the resulting song to be about. I’ve found myself being inspired by the title of the instrumental and try to convey verbally what the producer was saying instrumentally when he or she created the beat. 

Simple, right?

Yea, but look. Creating anything is hard as hell. As a songwriter, I am looking to the outside to find inspiration for my next hit. But creating in the times of Covid? Now, that’s crazy. How can this be done when I’m stuck in the house quarantining?

Well, let me keep it real. As an introvert that moonlights as a hermit, I didn’t go outside before all this corona-business started booming. But, oh, do I miss the outside now! I want to go to bars, clubs, and all of the places I never once in my life thought about going before this. I find myself feeling without inspiration and desperately seeking it.

So, I imagine. I imagine what it is like to live in a world sans Covid-19, sans racism, sans my depression. I imagine a world that’s damn near perfect, and I write about it. This isn’t where my songs come from, though. My songs come from heartache and longing. And currently, there is plenty of that to go around.

I know what’s going on in the world, most of the painful issues of today. However, I don’t dive into the horrible details of them all. Knowing myself, the world could crush me with depression, and there’d be nothing creative left of me at all. So, I don’t watch the news, pretty much ever. I glance at headlines to make sure that I haven’t missed the rapture, but that’s about it. I don’t need these things stifling me. I’d rather not think about the current president being the current president (#vote). I’d rather not worry about police barging into my home in the middle of the night and not coming out of it alive. I’d rather not know what it feels like to have someone’s knee on my neck. Is avoidance the best thing to do? Probably not. But, it’s honestly what I do. I avoid and pray for Jesus to fix it.

My mind is constantly filled with thoughts...duh. My thoughts are loud as hell, as I imagine most creative people’s thoughts are. Before 2020, I thought my life truly sucked. I laugh about that now. My favorite cousin and I were just saying the other day how disrespectful this year has been to all of us. I’ve found that my depression medication has had to be increased significantly since the beginning of the year. Do you know what else has increased? My stash of toilet paper, my weight, and my internet usage. In my battle for happiness and fight against depression, I have realized things could be much worse. What have homeless people been doing without access to masks? How do some nurses and doctors feel when they can’t go home to their family for fear of spreading the virus to them?

Since March, I’ve been working from home, but currently go into the office twice a week. It’s been amazing. I don’t miss it one bit if I’m being honest. I believe it’s been better for my creativity because I work on my music at the same time. Don’t tell my boss.

When I wonder how others are being affected by all of this, I ask. Many of my coworkers are totally here for working from home indefinitely. If Google employees can do it, why can’t we? I personally think that the managers at my job want people back in the office to keep eyes on them. They want to control you. Is this going to be shared? I feel like I’m digging myself a hole. When you have these thoughts, you should become your own boss and do what you love.

Missing my family is what has hit me the hardest during this time. We’ve gone from weekly Sunday dinners to occasional visits each month. My parents are in their 60s and my father has asthma, so we have to be very careful. As the privileged go out in droves to angrily protest against wearing masks, we social distance from each other. Technology is wonderful. I can, and do, see my people daily thanks to Facetime and Facebook Messenger.  They get tired of me calling, so they say, but I don’t believe it. They love me.

Whenever I write a new song, my family is the first to hear it. I ask them for their honest opinions, as if they’d give me anything but honesty. They gas me up, and I become ready for more. The gift of family is something I don’t plan to take for granted again. I dare say we’ve become closer in the times we’ve spent social distancing from each other. I won’t say the old cliché that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but...

I’m currently writing for a young singer named Morgan. Blessed with a soulful voice, she’s been keeping me on my toes and excited about the future. She’s a breath of fresh air, and I love the sense of accountability I have towards her. She’s caused me to go back in time and step into the future. I have to recall what it was like to be a 17-year-old experiencing love and heartbreak in the same year. On the flip side, I have to keep current with the lingo that these crazy kids today use (yes, I really talk like this). The latter is much more difficult than the former. Thank God for Urban Dictionary and Morgan, herself. Facepalm moment: I had to Google why cap means to lie. Let that sink in.

Morgan came at just the right time for me. I was in the middle of what I thought was writer’s block, when it turned out, I simply needed the motivation to continue to write. What is your motivation? I want the world to hear my voice without having to get on stage and perform. I want my songs to be stuck in someone’s head and heart so that they can feel related to, understood. To listen to someone singing a line of lyrics that you thought you might have been the only person to ever think before is a good feeling. 

Writing for her has also caused me to meet several new and interesting people, something quite major for a person as shy as I am. I’ve come to call these people family and they have been there for me in times when I did not feel so creative, allowing me to “have a moment” and then pushing me back on the proverbial horse. We’ve spent time talking about the world around us and the issues we’re facing, allowing each other to cry and purge negative feelings and causing pain in our cheeks or sides from smiling and laughing so hard.

When you have someone depending on your creativity, you do your best to produce. You feel a bit of responsibility to the one depending on you. You don’t want to disappoint. All creators have someone depending on their creativity, even if it is just themselves. I strive to remember that I was given the gift of songwriting for others the same as someone else was given the gift of painting or photography for me. So, thank you, fellow creator. You are appreciated and valued, and you have someone who is anxiously awaiting your next masterpiece.

Hear J. Noelle's music at reverbnation.com/jnoelle

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