New Beginnings.
Written by
Candace Aum
July 2010
Written by
Candace Aum
July 2010
Hello to those who find themselves reading this! My name is Candace, I am 21 years old (about to be 22 this coming Thursday) and I just joined this site after I came across an article promoting it in The Writer magazine. I was so excited when I found out about it! I didn't even know such sites existed; a site exclusive to writers. Love it! :) It wasn't until somewhat recently that I decided that I wanted to stick with writing as a career path. Up until now I had been a musician and guitar player, focusing the last nearly six years of my life on a music career. It actually was going well. I've received much local and a bit of international musical attention; appearing in local newspapers, morning-radio programs, websites, and gaining notoriety from my YouTube channel. My heavy metal band, Hierophant, also appeared in German magazines. I was the "badass female metal guitarist" that many admired, and I am still extremely grateful that people appreciated what I did. However, even though things were going relatively well from the outside, in the inside of Hierophant there was nothing but drama and stress that I got the butt end of. After a huge blowout, we disbanded at the end of last year, leaving me (and I'm sure a few of the other members as well) feeling aimless and deeply depressed since up to that point I had focused everything I had on my band, and now that it was over, I had no idea what to do with myself. A couple of months later, I decided to major in music at school. I figured it would force and motivate me to practice since I no longer had Hierophant to keep me musical. During my time with Hierophant, I was going to school, but I wasn't as dedicated as I could have been because of my concentration on music. I started out wanting to write, majoring in Journalism, but I decided I didn't want to pursue that afterall once I realized how the writer pretty much was at the editor's mercy of the paper they were writing for. I wanted to have more of a voice, rather than reporting the "facts". So, after that I became an "undecided" student, focusing on the basic courses (and LOVING my English classes) until I found something suitable, even though during the time, I, as well as some of the other members of Hierophant, figured that our musical career was already "in the bag", hence why I didn't take my school career 100% seriously. I now realize it was a mistake to think that way, because even though things might be going well, I've learned that nothing is certain in the "what-if" business of the music industry. Moving on, once Hierophant was over, I was now a music major. I really enjoyed it at first. It seemed like the perfect environment actually. Surrounded by musicians my age, all dedicated to perfecting their craft, and all my homework was strictly musical. I was doing well, too. Unlike many of the other students, my music theory classes were a breeze for me, and my teachers each saw me as very promising student. However, there was one problem for me. I had to take jazz courses in order to get a music degree. After being exposed to and listening to quite a lot of jazz music in my time as a music student, I definitely appreciate it and think very highly of the musicians who are virtuoso jazz cats. However, it was the most uninspiring genre for me to play. I'm not sure if it's because I came from a high-energy, heavy metal background where beer, bud, and backyard barbeque parties were quite the norm, or if it's because I simply took no interest in it. Regardless of the reason, jazz made music a chore for me. All I did was stay locked in my room practicing music I really didn't want to play for hours on end. I had even less of a social life than I already had, and no one saw much of me. I started to become even more moody than my already typically rather moody self. I think I was moody because I was in denial that music, my passion and driving force for the previous six years, was no longer fulfilling me, instead making me a bitter jazz player determined to make some sort of career out of music. The semester eventually ended. I finished Spring 2010 with straight A's, and I finally had a break from my dreaded jazz studies. At the start of the summer, I told myself that I would take a bit of a break, and then continue practicing all through the summer so I would be even better when Fall came (the music field is highly competitive, and I had to be even more competitive, since I was the female guitarist). Days went by, followed by weeks, and then a month. Two months. The more time passed, the more depressed I came. I was depressed because I wasn't practicing, yet I couldn't get myself to practice for more than half an hour (I used to practice for at least three or four hours at a time). Every time I picked up my guitar, I just got upset. I was once upset at it because I associated the guitar with all the drama I went through with my band, and now I was also upset at it because it made me see it as a chore; a burden. If I wasn't practicing jazz, I felt guilty and undisciplined, but if I did go over jazz, I grew frustrated. I was miserable! All because I just wanted to play. One night, I was up late, a pot of coffee in my system and full of neurosis, which is the norm for me unfortunately, and I started thinking. I was thinking of the upcoming Fall semester that was pulling me closer and closer everyday. Just the thought of going back to jazz ensemble class and slaving the long, dark, bitter hours of practice in my room gave me anxiety. I then realized that this wasn't normal. What was going on with me? If I really loved something, I wouldn't be dreading the continuation of it again. I'd be looking forward to it. I once loved music so much, and I remember how it felt to love it, to want to spend all of the possible time in the day playing, and now I was getting anxiety attacks just at the thought of starting up again! I then started writing in my journal (which I've been doing seriously since I was about 13, even though I started my first "diary" when I was 6) and I asked myself the simple question "What will make me happy?". And without hesitation, the answer poured out of my pen: writing. I wanted to write. I then concluded that this desire had always been inside of me. Even during my musical years I was always writing constantly, whether it was in my journal, recording my dream from the former night every morning, writing an essay (for school or my own pleasure), or penning down lyrics for one of my band's new songs. Writing was always apart of me, and I incorporated it in my life somehow regardless of what else was going on. Writing was my escape, my emotional and creative output, the passion that until recently, I didn't know I possessed. The weight and anxiety was relieved from my chest. I had been so persistent in making music a career that it was no longer a joy for me. I was overcome with myopia and thought that a musical career was the ONLY option. Maybe it's because I had wanted to be successful in music for so long, and thought about it everyday, that I tattooed the notion into my mind and it became a mental stain, making me see no other way of life. Now that I'm writing about it, I think I hadn't yet come to terms with the disbanding of Hierophant, and I didn't want to accept that it was okay if I didn't make it as a musician. It took complete misery in order for me to realize, "Candace, it's perfectly fine to not have a career in music. Happiness is the goal." It isn't exactly brain surgery to understand that happiness is everyone's ultimate goal either. I simply had tunnel-vision. The funny part is that ever since I made peace with not being a professional musician, my love for music has come back, and I no longer see it as a heavy burden. Now, things are better. Ever since my epiphany, I've been writing and reading everyday, changed my major to English, and I'm ready for a new beginning. I also plan to go forth and get my Associates in Journalism since I just need one more class to do so. I thought it'd be a beneficial thing to have under my belt. I still play guitar. It will always be a part of me, and most of my friends are in or have been in the musical scene. I'm no longer a miserable musician, but a creative, music-loving writer. I thought my life was over when music was beginning to act as my poison, but had I not sunk to such dark depths, I wouldn't be writing this now. All of this has shown me that no matter what circumstances occur, and no matter how horrible one thinks they are, everything happens for the better, and we will realize it whether it be weeks, months, or years from now. Life has an uncanny habit of falling into place. I figured telling my story of how I got here would be an appropriate introduction. With that said, it is a great pleasure to be a part of this network, and I wish everyone the best. -Candace

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  • Candace Aum

    Thank you! I think it is most important that we pursue what we love! It keeps future regrets at bay :)

  • Jaime Herndon

    hi Candace! Great blog post! Im struggling with something similar -- going down a path that is "expected" or simply there, but feeling the tug toward writing. Go you for having the strength to pursue your passion!

  • Candace Aum

    Yeah definitely. All it takes is one popular, classic song to give you a lifetime of financial support! lol :D

  • Chelsea Starling

    I'm just sayin' that girl who wrote Beautiful for Christina A. does not have a bummer of a life! And what about Bernie - Elton John's lyricist? Bazillionaire!

  • Candace Aum

    Aww thank you :)
    And that is a very good idea. I've thought about the songwriting idea actually. Perhaps I can see how it goes as a lyricist for other artists. I'll definitely look into that!
    Thanks for the comment, and have a wonderful week!

  • Chelsea Starling

    Hey Candace-

    Sounds like you have the makings of a writer in you! Maybe it would be fun for you to consider becoming a songwriter for other musicians or vocalists? This would combine your two loves, and if you start now, you could end up with a really amazing songwriting career, and stay in that music industry world in a different way than you had originally imagined. From my perspective, it looks like if you combine your strengths you will see a measure of success that is twice what you might experience if you only focus on one of them. Very cool! I don't see you going down the journalist road. You've got too much personality for that! (Unless you were going to write about the music industry.)

    Best of luck to you! I'll look forward to seeing how your writing career takes shape!