Cam Smith is the lead vocalist of Porterville, CA’s Hotel Books. Smith also travels as a spoken-word poet and public speaker.

Livin’ on a Prayer

Writing for the sake of writing typically does not produce promising results. I have learned this lesson the hard way multiple times. Often times, I would try to write lyrics to a song simply because lyrics needed to be written. I did not have an inspiration, I did not have a meaning behind the words, I simply had a deadline so I began to write for the sake of getting something written. Every time I took this approach to writing a song, the lyrics would end up falling flat.

This column is a brand new outlet for me to write with purpose. As I face life every day in a band who “hasn’t really made it yet,” I want to write about the struggles, victories and realities of what I witness on the road, at home and while traveling on behalf of my public speaking and preaching opportunities as well. I have followed many blogs, podcasts and columns written by men and women in bands who have “made it” by some sort of standard, and though I enjoy all of these, I wanted to see something written by someone who is still learning, still growing and still praying for doors to open every day.

As I stated before, I try to never write for the sake of writing, I only want to write with purpose. Each month, I intend to share stories and information that I witness in my life. I will never write a filler piece and I will never come empty handed. I want to take this as seriously as I do with my lyrics. I currently am the lead vocalist of Porterville, CA spoken-word, ambient band Hotel Books. I have played in local punk and hardcore bands in the past, and even have a side project I am slowly hammering out, but Hotel Books is my job, hobby, passion and ministry.

Throughout these past tours, I have seen band members come and go, I have seen just how much my actions and words affect those around me. I write this column as someone who makes mistakes every day, someone who has seen the realities of struggling to make a band work out, and someone who has everything to lose. I want to be transparent, sincere, honest, but also human.

I’ve spent three years on the road and I have no intentions of stopping any time soon. I dropped out of college, quit my job and jumped in a van to fulfill what I believe is a calling. Hotel Books is a band that expresses stories of heartbreak, loss, self-harm, depression, and ultimately, redemption through the Love we have found in God. We often sing about the “dark before the dawn” but also the peace that is found through surviving and blossoming in a world of anxiety and confusion. Many of the stories I will share will focus on the human interactions I have between myself and members of the Hotel Books family. I want to highlight certain struggles and try my best to start a conversation about them.

I want to talk about the confusion of finding one’s identity aside from their band, I want to talk about the struggles of starting up a band with purpose, and I want to share the fun and bizarre encounters we have on the road. I am not a rock star, I am not a celebrity, and I am not a wealthy songwriter. I am a musician with a mission who hasn’t really made it yet. I hope this column can be beneficial to other young musicians, as well as to music lovers who are looking for further perspective of what it is like to be in a band. I will also share conversations I have with other musicians on the road and the hard lessons I learn along the way.