It has been said that the best words come out of great suffering. It is also well documented through history that a lot of people with creative jobs have been, and are, very troubled souls. I don’t know when you can call yourself a writer? If the line goes at being signed by a real publisher or studio, I am still to earn that right. If it goes at the point where a certain amount of people has bought your self-published e-books, I suppose I am one. Personally, I think you should be allowed to call yourself a writer if your soul tells you that is what you are. Not everything can be measured in money and if writing is all that occupies your mind, and the only time you feel you have done something of value is when you have finished a new song lyric or what ever else you are writing, then you are a writer in my book.
What I am certain of is that I am a troubled soul. I so wish I wasn’t, but I’ve had to accept that we are what we are. I go through periods of deep darkness which I most times balance up with happier days. With age I feel the grey middle ground is where I spend most of my days.
What I have learned is that when I go into a very dark period in my life, it is impossible to write. The same goes for when I am extremely happy. It is when I can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel from one of my dark periods that I am at my most prolific as a writer. Somehow this is when I can put words to what my soul searching has given me that time around. I wish I could say the same about my happy periods in life. I wish I could sum them up in happy words, happy stories, but writing happy lyrics is not as easy as it sounds. I have tried, but anything on paper from my “jolly-pen” always looks trivial and silly.
Where do I find a happy medium when it comes to how dark or light my words are? When it comes to light, happy, peaceful subjects I still must find my happy medium or I must find light words that still have meaning and depth. When it comes to darkness my problem is to keep my words within subject matters that the reader or listener can stomach. Unfortunately, some of my experiences in life have been so dark that what is my “normal” can sometimes be way off the chart.
What people think is a good song lyric is also a cultural thing. My opinion, said with great fondness and in very broad stroke caricature, is that with a Nordic soul, which I have, there must be soul searching and melancholy in the words, to really hit home. Pain and hardship should seep through here and there. Obviously, this is a way of writing that feels very close to my heart. My problem is that my adoptive home country really doesn’t like deep conversations and having feelings out on display. In England it is appreciated if feelings are kept a bit at arm’s length and if spoken of, the feelings are shielded with great self-irony. In public it is felt best to keep things jolly and close to the surface.
At times I have tied to keep my words jolly and written with a big portion of irony, but this can cause problems on the other side of the pond where self-irony isn’t so deeply routed in the DNA. I have had lyrics going well for me in England that has offended people in the States, so the happy middle ground is a very narrow patch of land.
In fairness, I think the worst thing to do is to try to figure out what kind of lyrics the critics, studios, agents etc. would want. I can only write what I have lived, and who I am, and how I have come to see our world through my experiences. To try to write as someone else or in a certain style takes me at least one step from what Is real and genuine. This makes my end-product weaker and takes away the real point of writing. Everything written should, at its best, be unique to the one putting the words on paper.
I will leave you with a lyric of mine that had some success in the UK Songwriting competition a couple of years back. It is called “Darkness” and I remember writing it after a period when I didn’t feel so good. Whether “Darkness” is good or bad is not mine to say, but it is proof of the fact that I belong to the group of people who seem to need the darker times of life to find my words. I will also share a link to a demo made of the song, if you feel like listening. The composer is Fredrik Holm. The singer’s name is Tine Sylvest.
Until next time. Take care and happy writing!
I’m looking for absolution
forgiveness I don’t deserve.
My heart needs a solution,
new hope I can preserve.
When I see my own reflection
I need to see one ounce of good.
Instead of the detection
of memories filled with blood.
I’m surrounded by total darkness
because I can finally see
the horror I gladly created
as the person that used to be me.
My goal is to live every moment
a bit better than before.
To balance my previous actions
and feel a bit human once more.
I need to be able to feel,
my inside is dark and cold.
It’s time to break the seal
let painful truths unfold.
One day I want to be better,
as a person deserving to live.
Feel my happiness matters
know I’ve got good to give.
©Åsa Sandberg 2013