Letting go of dear projects, friends, ideals, etc, can be so painful and strange. Yesterday I was telling a friend about this project Ellwood Station I had planned on recording and releasing this year. It was so important for me to have a project to work towards, but in the end I let the whole thing go. The reason I bring this up is because I’ve been feeling very grateful and aware of my creative process. Recently, after learning that I no longer have a strong spiritual interest or faith, my mother said to me, “I just don’t know what I would do without my faith”. I’ve since realized that what keeps me going is process: song writing, recording, etc. And only a small number of songs and projects actually get finished. The joy is in the process. Things fall through. Ideas die. I can remember stealing my dad’s old IBM laptop as a young kid and sitting in my room for (what felt like) hours and attempting to write novels and poems. I remember writing songs as early as 5th and 6th grade. I engaged with creative projects just because I loved doing so. There’s never been an end goal. And now, today, it’s still so fulfilling to be constantly working on music, artwork, songs, etc.

This is the life I’ve chosen. I chose not to go to school, although I hope to go back and get a degree at some point. I chose not to stay in ministry. I chose to move to Los Angeles. And I’m going to stay here. And I’m going to keep working on songs and projects and I’m going to keep allowing for the positivity and fulfillment of creativity to guide my path.

Today, I had a wonderful chat with a friend from work about the importance of constructive criticism. These are some ideas she shared with me that I’m determined to adopt honestly:

-Delivery is everything. If I’m going to share an opinion about someone’s art or performance, it should be thoughtful and constructive. The opinion should be about a specific work or performance and it should not make any underlying statements about the artist. Just the art. It should be gentle and considerate.

-It is possible to take pride in my work while also recognizing that there is always room to grow and improve.

-My opinion is just my opinion. It is not fact. It is not more important than other opinions.

I know. Simple stuff. But for too long, I’ve been inappropriately critical and judgmental of other artists. This is mostly due to my own insecurity, defensiveness, ego, etc.

This particular work friend has been spectacularly insightful and a joy to talk to and learn from.

Along similar lines as the rest of this post, I’ve been trying to make friends with my past songs and projects and appreciate each phase or season for where it has brought me today. It’s unproductive and arrogant to be ashamed or embarrassed by my own music. There’s something in between thinking I’m the best and thinking I’m the worst. A lot is in between those two actually. It’s time to tap into it. This is why I’ve decided to release a compilation of older songs. I’m proud of the work I’ve done, and I’m excited for what the near future has to offer in the way of new music, skill level, and more. We all start somewhere.

Ashton York