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I refer to myself as a writer.
Whatever that means…
I do not refer to myself as a songwriter.
However, I have done more of the latter in the past year than I have my “normal” kind of writing.
Whatever normal is…
When it comes to writing songs the music comes easier for me than the lyrics. Strange, right? Poetry was never my strongest area in school. If I remember correctly Professor Beret once called one of my poems, “Candy-coated dog ****.” It was scribbled on the bottom of the page when he handed it back to me. Lovely… and true. I never spent much time on my poems, they didn’t interest me. I love reading poetic works by others, I appreciate their beauty, but I’ve always known I’m not a poet at heart. So, I have to approach writing lyrics in a way where I am not looking at it as poetry, otherwise my mind turns completely blank. It’s a strange writer’s block I’ve created.
I can play the piano. I have a picture of my sweet keyboard here. It’s not so sweet really, I have a blown speaker on the left that rattles incessantly. I play with headphones most of the time… because of the rattle, and the fact that I’m a little self-conscious of what the neighbors hear. I took lessons for about 10 years. I am no where near as good as I should be for having done so. It’s rare I sit down with sheet music, instead I sit down and just… play. I will create a dozen melodies in one sitting but have no words to go with them. Somewhat aggravating.
Starting at the age of 16 I started to write down snippets of lyrics that I would come up with or chord progressions. I have on several pieces of paper hand-drawn staffs with scribbled notes across eight or so measures – random melodies I played and wanted to remember. I have journals specifically dedicated to music, but they are barely filled because instead I grab the nearest piece of paper like a dodo. So I have stickies, envelopes, and the backs of fliers and such, all stuffed in these notebooks of blank pages. Yep, a dodo.
But when inspiration hits I have to grab it, right?
I never complete songs either. I have tons of starts, but I am never fully satisfied with any of them, therefore they are deemed unfinished. I’ve played a handful at my church, thankfully they allow me to test the waters, but I still didn’t consider those songs to be done. In fact, only one of them had a title. Maybe it’s the annoying artist-perfectionist in me, or maybe I just don’t follow through… I never put my name on them either, just on the off chance that the water-testing turned out to be ice cold. If the congregation hated the song I don’t want them finding out it was written by me!
I had a couple poems published once, a few years back, in a literary magazine that my University publishes. I also had a short story in there as well, and guess what I received more compliments on…
Songwriting is hard. You want to be as original as possible, but if you’re anything like me you have so many musical influences you find yourself mimicking what you hear others do. I have been focusing on trying to find my own voice, my own sound, which has been the hardest part of it all. Perhaps I should follow Virginia Woolf’s example and turn into a hermit, preventing any outside influence from seeping it’s way into my writing. The end of her story wasn’t all that great though, and yes I’m flexing my literary references here, just let it happen.
A songwriter. Maybe I can make some money off it one of these days. Then I would definitely put my name on it.
What kind of writer am I? I don’t know. I do know that I am not fond of essays, articles, or anything that remotely resembles textbook writing. Can I do it? Yes. But do I flourish in it? Definitely not. All the rules of technical writing make me feel claustrophobic. However, I do appreciate punctuation. I will not be another Cormac McCarthy by any means. (Yeah, another lit. reference, deal with it.) Whatever it is that I do write, whether it be this ridiculous blog of mine, the dozens of unfinished songs, or the few starts to short-stories I have, it’s as much a part of me as the fingers that type it. That is something I think any writer would agree with. However silly some of the things I pen down are, the reflection on me is as serious as could be.
I just love to write.