I’m going to do it. Blog. I haven’t been very good about it because I felt like I was blogging into a vacuum. Who was going to read it? Who really cared about what I might have to say, anyway? I wasn’t crashing into telephone poles outside Hollywood clubs or having children with famous people (none that I can talk about anyway) or doing copious amounts of drugs and living to tell about it.

Did I even matter? Do you?

But then I realized that we write for ourselves… all of us do. When we write a letter to someone else, it’s usually because there’s something in us that we need to get out. It’s the same with songs and paintings and little love notes we leave on the counter. And that’s why this project I’ve been working on is called FOR THE SENDER.

So I’m going to write a blog. For me, with the hope that you see yourself somewhere in here, too. One thing I learned with FOR THE SENDER is that we all have the same losses and triumphs and victories and defeats, we just call them by different names.

And as far as not mattering, that’s something I’m going to get to shortly. Not today – as this is my first one, so I’m not going to tell you that you don’t matter quite yet. That’s coming, though. And it’s not as bad as it sounds. In fact, it may be just what you need to hear.

About a year ago I let a small bird fly from my hands, down the aisle-way of a dilapidated theater, and out into the January night. We had just played a concert where, for the very first time, we presented real-life letters and the songs we wrote about them, and I had written a book with my own tale woven through the back-stories of the letters. I felt like I was letting this little bird go, something I had cradled and nurtured in my cupped hands until she was ready to fly, but now I had no idea where she would go, whether she would come back to me and what she might look like if she did.

Her name was FOR THE SENDER, and she did feel like a bird in many ways. She sang, she flew, she slept, she breathed. She was a living, changing creature, but unlike a bird, no one could quite define FOR THE SENDER. If a bird is singing, you don’t call the bird ‘a song.’ If a bird is walking, you don’t call the bird ‘a step.’ You call it a bird, no matter what it’s doing. FOR THE SENDER is much the same, in that it does many things: it reads like a book, it sings like a song, it writes like a letter. But you don’t call it just ‘a book,’ or ‘a song,’ or ‘a letter.’ It is all those things, and we don’t have a word for that, as far as I know.

Within a few weeks of letting that bird go, I was in the office of the president of a prominent publishing house. FOR THE SENDER had crossed his desk through someone at that January show and he had experienced it in one sitting, reading and listening and crying and connecting. And a few weeks later, I was a signed, published author with a three-book deal.

That’s when the trouble started.

Marketing and PR people need messages. They need quick hits that they can use to make the media want to cover their projects. It’s not enough to say ‘this is beautiful, just experience it.’ What’s the elevator pitch? In 14 seconds or less, you better encapsulate the entire project, or you’re f’d. The thing is, no one could define FOR THE SENDER. Even that president who signed me couldn’t tell me what the single, over-arching message was. I asked him but he found it as hard to encapsulate in just a few short words as we all do. And yet he loved it enough to commit substantial time and resources and tell me it was one of his favorite projects that his company had ever put out.

Over the weeks and months that followed, the challenge became about trying to define this beautiful mess of letters and songs and stories – attempting to summarize what they are about in just a few short sentences.

When people read the book, they ‘get’ it, and on so many levels their own experiences color the message. Perhaps that’s why it’s so hard to box it in. Ellen De Generes said she loved the project on both Twitter and Facebook – having been handed a copy by her producer. It wasn’t a work assignment for her. It was a genuine endorsement. For others it means something totally different.

So that’s where I am now, close to a year after that little bird left the theater. People love FOR THE SENDER but they can’t always say why. They just do.

And for me, that’s enough.

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