Showing posts with label songwriting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label songwriting. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I Write Songs, Too--My Most Memorable Words of All

Okay, I've always felt funny calling myself a songwriter since my songs have never been published, except for two, "If Everyone Lived Like the Tree," which appeared as a poem in my second book, Writing Success Through Poetry, without any sheet music or link to a recording. The other song appears in my ebook, The Secret in the Wood, as sheet music for kid readers to play, to enhance the reader's experience of sharing the protagonist's emotions. I've performed "If Everyone Lived Like the Tree" at various assemblies, and have posted a recent video of such a performance on my Facebook Author Page. My daughter Lainey, a singer and actress, recorded the song from my book, "Dance of the Trees," with an accompanist on piano (Chase Pado), and it appears on my website as an audio file. But other than those songs, the only ones I've shared publicly have been within my religious community--spiritual songs, mainly--and tribute ballads at funerals. See why I've hesitated to call myself a songwriter?

Anyway, I've decided to start recording and adding my songs to my previously private Soundcloud page--even if they're mostly a cappella, rough versions--to force myself to take more seriously this gift that I've been given. I don't mean to sound arrogant when I say "gift"; on the contrary, I mean to sound humble, since the way my songs come to me is not something I consciously work at or even feel I can take credit for, as it really feels as though I'm channeling them from some distant muse. To clarify, I'm not calling myself a psychic, but my songwriting process is this: I'm hit by a tsunami of emotion, either painful or joyful or insightful, and suddenly I hear music playing in my head, and I jot down words as they flow out of my mouth along with the tune I'm hearing. Many of my songs have flown along with tears, rolling out of me as they drip onto the page, in many cases. Others have flown from me while traveling, either by car, train, or plane--there's something about traveling that sparks songwriting for me, along with grateful feelings and/or epiphanies about my small part in the vastness of this world. And some songs have grown out of pondering the emotions of others, via books I've read or movies I've seen, or even other songs that have moved me profoundly. Some I've adapted to fit my current novels-in-progress, hoping to use them to enhance my marketing efforts once those books are published.

I'd like to say that all of my writing comes to me as my songs do, but that's not true. I'm consciously thinking about these words, for instance, as I write them. I ponder, write, backspace, delete, add--just as I do when writing fiction. Even my poems don't always flow magically, but require reworking as I go. But my songs, they come from some other place in my creative spirit. I am now taking the risk of inviting you, my readers, into that place, by sharing some of my rough, mostly unaccompanied, vocal recordings. I have dozens of songs not yet uploaded to Soundcloud, still jotted on papers in my files and on cassette tapes, from years ago, and I will continue to add them to my Soundcloud page, because, well, it's time.

If you like my songs, you can leave comments here or on the Soundcloud page, and maybe your words will inspire me to get some of these professionally recorded. By the way, it costs you nothing to join Soundcloud, and it will open your ears to many new, undiscovered musicians. While you're on my page, check out my son's songs posted there, by Ian Lipson and/or Wistappear, his band.)

I will exhale loudly as I hit "Publish" for this post and declare myself a songwriter, even if only an amateur one.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Ignoring Signs

Signs on the highway foretell upcoming construction, accidents, bumps along our way. They glare in yellow or red, catching our eyes and redirecting us, sometimes in the nick of time for the least aware drivers. Do divine signs--the intangible ones that disguise themselves as coincidences--glare in the same way in our lives, yet without flashing lights or glow-in-the-dark metal? Do we need some special awareness to notice them BEFORE life happens? How do we cultivate the vision we need to perceive such signs and to avoid recognizing them only when it's too late: "Ah, I should have see that coming! All the signs were there!" Furthermore, how do we know that the signs ARE signs, and not just our imaginations colored by hopes or fears?

Lately, I've been wondering whether I've been overlooking signs regarding my writing career. My printed words have garnered surprise praise from unsought sources, while I continue to mail out children's book manuscripts to agents who reject them for lack of their own time or enthusiasm; or agents (TWO) who actually LOSE my submissions, after months in which I imagined them reading and sharing my words with the members of their office, and after ignoring my email inquiries about the status of my submission finally write sheepish replies to admit that they lost my work and apologize--without offering to make it up to me by reading my work as a new, top-priority submission. Did you hear the long sigh that punctuated that run-on sentence? Ah...

Anyway, the unsolicited praise I HAVE received lately concerns writing that I am NOT currently submitting for representation or publication: scripts, songs, and essays. Maybe this weird recurrence of compliments is a sign that I should refocus my attention? Maybe the compliments are gifts of guidance from Beyond, to help me redirect my efforts? Let me explain the possible "signs" I have lately received....

In the last two weeks, my scriptwriting skills have been praised by my daughter's acting coaches and casting directors who, while auditioning her with a script that I wrote for her (an adaptation of one of my unappreciated novels-in-submission!), asked her where she got this "amazing script" and even approached me after the audition to commend my writing skills. My songwriting skills have brought me requests to either sing or grant permission to another singer to sing my original liturgical music in synagogue. And my essay-writing skills have brought me surprising emails from parents of prospective students and other bloggers who have invited me to contribute to THEIR blogs. What does this mean? Should I switch to writing screenplays and songs and essays? Am I overlooking potential success outside of children's book publishing? Or are these peripheral mini-successes, meant to spur me onward and not lost my drive for my goal of publishing another novel for kids?

I even wrote myself a song about this very topic, months ago, but never heeded the advice that sang itself into my ear until I wrote down the lyrics and sang them into my computer's recording device. "Am I manufacturing signs, signs to guide me, since I am lost?... Am I overlooking connections, connections who'll get me further along? Maybe it's a matter of timing, timing that's part of some divine song?"

Signs, or willful imaginings? How do we know? How do we learn to trust ourselves? On the other hand, how do we keep from "poo-pooing" signs that scare us--about our health or the health of others, for example? How I wish the signs would appear in neon lights instead of ghostly flashes of insight! How I wish the "chills of confirmation" that many of us imagine/perceive (?) would instead become physical shaking by Divine "hands"!

I hereby vow to trust myself to see more clearly. But I also plead with the Giver of Signs to be a little more obvious, pretty please? Maybe this blog post is a sign?