The River's Badge

Sunday, February 5, 2012

I Miss FAWM


I'm a big booster of FAWM, which is why I'm posting tonight.

FAWM stands for February Album Writing Month.

The goal is to write 14 songs in 28 days; or seeing that this happens to be a leap year, 14 and a half songs in 29 days.

A lot of people don't get the concept of FAWM. I participated in FAWM for the last three years, and I've heard comments such as, "The songs come when they come"; "I don't believe in forcing yourself to write a bunch of songs in a month".

Well, the songwriting skill is the same as any other. Practice it, and you get better. Wait for "inspiration" and it may never come.

What FAWM forces one to do is to stop self-editing. By its nature, it prohibits that kind of thought. Because you have to get them written...all fourteen of them...in a finite period of time.

Self-editing is the death knell for artistic people. We're an insecure lot as it is. Left to our own devices, we could chew on a song for a year, and it still wouldn't be good enough.

Hey, it's just a song. We writers need to get over ourselves.

The reason I am not participating in FAWM this year is; (a) I don't really write anymore; and (b) I sort of forgot about it.

And here it is (as I write this), February 4. That's four lost days, and I'm not of a mind to try to make those up.

As a writer (or as any artistic person), although we're a solitary bunch, most of us find that having a supportive community of like-minded dreamers is really helpful. And one of the best things about FAWM is their discussion board. One finds people who speak the same language, which is an epiphany in itself.

Ever try explaining, or even mentioning, songwriting to someone who thinks you're some kind of crude alien being? I have. I've actually seen the glazed look in their eyes; their minds beginning to drift off, to things that make sense....like a bagel or an online shopping site.

They think we're weirdos.

Which is why I don't talk about writing.

Well, except here.

I miss writing (music).

But I think I miss FAWM more.

FAWM'ers don't look at the results so much as they look at the journey.

I would say that in the three years that I completed the challenge, I probably wrote two good songs. Seriously. And fourteen times three equals 42 songs. That's less than five hundredths of a per cent success rate. Sad.

But I'm not sad about it. I learned stuff; stuff about myself, and stuff about songwriting. Too bad I don't put it into practice now, but never say never.

I can go back and listen to those songs, and remember exactly what I was feeling, and what I was thinking, when I wrote every single one of them. Those are memories that have meaning to me. Just me. But did I say songwriting is a solitary existence? If I didn't, well, it is.

Why did I stop? I was repeating myself too much. And I can't play, and I'm frustrated that I can't play, and that I don't know enough chords to change things up. I reached the limits of my abilities. And my desire.

Some time away from songwriting is probably what I need. I pass my guitar in the hall twenty times a day, and I never once have the urge to pick it up. I'm a pseudo-songwriter.

I love music. That's why I write this blog.

I once thought that I wanted to be part of the music. I don't know now. Maybe I am just supposed to be an historian of the music.

You're maybe wondering about those two songs. The two good ones.

The story behind the songs is probably only interesting to the person who wrote them. But I'll tell you my story anyway.

Well, it was a cold February day (duh!), and we'd had a coating of ice. Ice is the worst! Give me snow; give me cold. Just don't give me ice. Ever try driving on that? Well, don't! Just stay home!

I was sitting on my loveseat with my guitar, and I was looking out the window (at the lovely ice coating on all the trees and on the sidewalk). And I thought, hmmm, ice storm. That could be a good metaphor for a relationship.

And I wanted to write something reminiscent of the Eagles, because I love the Eagles. And I think Don Henley is a very clever writer.

So, all that stuff was going through my mind, and I sat there on the loveseat with my spiral notebook and my guitar, and I worked the whole day getting that song the way I wanted it.

And the finished product was Ice Storms. Sorry; no video. I had a video, but I took it down for some reason. I'm very insecure about my singing. I'm thinking that's why.


Wastin' My Time Away
was written on an evening when I was feeling serene and happy.

What was I thinking? Well, I was thinking about seeing Paul McCartney in concert, and him doing a tribute to George Harrison, on the ukelele. This is sort of my Paul McC song.

I wrote the song in the key of D, which is a happy chord. The song came really fast. I wrote the lyrics in probably less than half an hour. But that's the kind of song it is, isn't it? Nothing too profound.

I like this song, because it's the me that I like being. We never did a proper recording of it, because sometimes things just get lost in the shuffle, you know? There are three of us in this band, and we have to take our turns.

Looking back, I'm pretty happy with these two songs. These two five hundredths of a per cent.

You know, Paul Simon wrote a lot of songs that no one has heard, too. We only march out the good ones. We're not stupid.

But I've got all my FAWM songs online, just for me. Just to have them in one place, so if I want to go back and relive the FAWM days, I can do it. Nobody else listens to them; nor would I expect anyone to.

To me, even the bad ones are cool. But I guess you'd have to know the story behind them.

Anyway, it's still not too late, songwriters! Head on over to FAWM and join up! I'm still reading the discussion boards, so I'm with you all in spirit! And who knows? Maybe next year...

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