The River's Badge

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Songwriting is like.......



......a job that you actually like going to.

It's been two months since FAWM ended, and I've had time to ponder the experience.

FAWM was a success for me this year, because I completed the challenge and then some.

It was a success in more ways, of course. It taught me that if I used some discipline, I could be a prolific songwriter.

I spent every weekend in February (albeit, some were three-day weekends) picking up the guitar and forcing myself to write. While it felt like a burden at times, and while sometimes I cursed myself for getting into this mess, I often found myself actually looking forward to it. Mostly, I guess, because I was eager for the surprise of something being born that had never existed in the world before.

I'm certainly not saying that all sixteen of the songs I wrote were world-shattering. Okay, none of them were. However, in hindsight, I think 10 of the 16 are dang good!

Okay, enough of patting myself on the back.

I also learned that, unless you're some kind of idiot savant, songwriting is WORK. I guess I kinda knew that already, but the FAWM experience really drove it home.

The deal was, with time at a premium, I needed to write a complete song in one day. But yet, it had to be something that I wasn't embarrassed to share with my fellow FAWMers.

My friend, and my new most cherished possession, became a Mead 70-page wide-ruled notebook.

I usually use Microsoft Word to transcribe my lyrics, but let me tell you, there is something about writing stuff out in longhand, with all the scribbles and strike-throughs, that sort of captures one's soul.

I wrote my chord notations next to each line, and played and scribbled and scratched. And I'm never parting with that notebook. A computer program saves things in a nice, sterile, clean, tidy little package. It makes it look as though I just dashed off some dictation, and voila! A song was born!

Ha! Sorry, but no. It was work!

And, you know, that's sorta what I love about songwriting. It's like a puzzle that I know if I work at long enough and smartly enough, I'm going to solve. And nobody is ever going to be able to solve it in the exact same way that I did.

And, silly me, I didn't realize it at the time, but in listening to those 16 songs, there's a bit of me in each one of them. Some of them may be fanciful, but there's at least a tiny bit of "my" truth in every one. I could listen to any one of those songs, had they been written by someone else, and say, I know that life! I lived it! I felt those feelings!

I love songwriting.