(Recovering from traumatic stress via my whiteboard, 2016.)

(Recovering from traumatic stress via my whiteboard, 2016.)

I'm currently doing research and writing for my first book, With Feeling: How Musicians Survive Hard Times. 

Between the ages of 25 and 30, several important things happened to me. My mother got cancer and died; I got married and divorced; and I began to identify as queer after spending my entire life thinking I was straight. 

As all this was taking place, I managed to get a musical career off the ground in Chicago—and then found myself questioning whether I even wanted that career anymore. 

While my circumstances were unique, the challenges I faced were universal. Every human being goes through dark and challenging periods in their lives. We all face change, loss, upheaval, and painful transformation.

But what I found myself asking was: what does this suffering have to do with my creative work? How can I integrate what I'm learning into a different kind of life, and a different kind of career? And what the hell is everybody else going through?

I'm talking to people whose lives and careers have been transformed by grief, loss, physical injury, mental illness, and other major crises. I'm asking how they knew they were in trouble; how they coped and healed; what's changed and what hasn't.

At the end of this writing journey, I hope to be able to offer a book that will support artists going through difficult times, and will help our educational institutions understand the complexity of the bodies, minds, lives, and careers of their students.