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I’m Still Learning From Felicia Day

A couple of nights ago I had the chance to meet Felicia Day in person. She is in the midst of a book tour to promote the paperback version of her excellent memoir. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make the signing here in Denver, but everything worked out, and I got to meet the person whose work I have admired for nine years. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

You see, I’ve been in a bit of a slump. As I gear up for my fifth season as a solo artist, I feel like I’ve reached a plateau. I have 10 albums to my name, yet I’m still struggling to line up gigs. Press is good, but reviews are getting harder to come by. In short, all the things I’ve been doing to get myself to this point don’t seem to be getting me further, and even maintenance of this ‘level’ has proven tricky.

And I have a problem with maintenance.

I like new projects and new challenges. I tend to despise working hard to maintain a status quo or repeating the same tasks without obvious progress. (Like everyone else, I imagine.)

So I’ve been in a real funk lately. On factor has been the difficulty I’ve had putting next season together, but another has been the mixed reaction to the release of my tenth album, Adrian Knight: Obsessions.

Yes, I received a fantastic review my New York performance, a profile in the Boston Globe, and a few wonderful comments from supporters.

But as is so often the case, there was a brief moment interest that quickly faded away.

(Sidebar: I’ve been working on this post for a little while, and every time I come back to this section it seems incredibly whiny. I’m leaving it, but I feel I should add a little more information. I deeply appreciate the two cited articles, but somehow this album remains on track to be my least-reviewed and one of my slowest-selling.)

Perhaps my expectations were a little high for this milestone, and featuring the music of a young, relatively unknown composer (no matter how awesome) probably didn’t help either. But dammit, I’m really proud of this album, and ten albums still seems like a pretty big deal to me.

So I got frustrated. Yes, I’m always going to want more people to hear this music, buy it, and come to performances, and I think that sort of frustration can be productive, but not knowing where to go from here, and not knowing how to make progress brought that frustration past the point of usefulness.

Enter Felicia Day

I made it to the book signing just in time, and with only three people behind me I got to see witness the culmination of hours of signing, smiling, chatting, and picture taking. Felicia Day was still going strong, but I couldn’t help think about how exhausting that must be.

Moreover, knowing that this was only the third of nine events in eight cities over ten days, I began to imagine everything else that was going into this tour. First, there is the obvious headache of catching flights, arranging transportation, staying in a new place almost every night, and finding food that won’t break your budget or your waistline. Then you have to make sure you look presentable for thousands of pictures, arrive early to each location, sign extra books for those who couldn’t make it, and somehow brace yourself for the onslaught of germs. And of course you must also use social media to encourage your fans to show up, as well as liking tweets and photos that are posted after the fact.

Somewhere in all that I bet she’s trying to keep up with her day job, too.

Yes, it must be incredible to have your book become a New York Times bestseller, but that brings with it a new set of challenges and unpleasant tasks. And oddly enough, that was encouraging to see.

I left that event feeling better about my career than I had in a long time. It was terribly exciting to sit down with someone I so greatly admire, even if only for a brief moment.

And seeing the labor that went into promoting her book reminded me that it never stops. Each step forward I take with my career will inevitably bring new problems, drudgery, and rejections, but knowing that—and accepting it (as much as I can)—has already helped me move forward.

I’m sure this is a lesson that I will need to relearn over and over again, but I hope next time I can remember that I’m not alone.

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