After a few years of writing it is inevitable that the doubts will creep in. You do your absolute best and you try to get your product noticed in every way you can think of, but nothing pays off. Sometimes it is very hard not to take the rejections personally, because song-lyrics are personal.
Last Christmas, when I got the results from the UK Songwriting Contest, I took it very personally. This time, the wound wasn’t from the rejection of my entries. because no, they weren’t rejected. I had one semi-finalist and the other four just under, but I felt that what I saw as a development in my writing had neither been noticed or appreciated. Instead the results made me feel like I had gone backwards. Not a nice feeling after having really worked hard on my craft. My wounded pride bled so badly that I totally lost faith in my writing skills and stopped appreciating my finished song lyrics stored in various files.
I’m not saying this was all together a bad thing. I admit having been way to possessive about my lyrics but being me, an all or nothing person, I became very close to kicking all my old work into touch and start again or, the other option, quit totally. It was all hanging in the balance for a while.
Looking back at this time with a few months perspective and with the wounds healing, I see it as a good learning curve and something that taught me to take constructive criticism in a way that wasn’t personal. As I showed you last week, I have now even changed one of my lyrics after an evaluation I felt was fair, and I had decided to start to go through all my old lyrics with the intention of making radical changes to most of them.
Then, a couple of days ago, I received a little miracle in the form of an SMS. A person I’ve known for a year now and who’s professional opinion I both respect and trust, wrote to me to tell me to consider carefully the feedback I’m getting from people and make sure I believe in my heart that it is right before starting to make big changes in my lyrics. The SMS also said that my lyrics are impressive and that I have a unique style which is something that is sadly missing in the music industry today.
It is impossible to describe how much that SMS meant as well as the amazing timing of it. It felt like some kind of divine intervention. Yes, I have heard people close to me say similar things before, but even if I obviously respect and trust people very close to me, it is hard to really take in praise from that bunch of people. First of all, they all know me so well that they always know what I mean when writing, because they know my back story. They also have got used to my personal way of expressing myself, so it may sound ok even if it isn’t always grammatically correct. Secondly, they are somehow supposed to think that what I write is good and even if they don’t’ always think that way, they may still say so out of kindness.
To get feedback like I got in that SMS from an unexpected source, with such good timing was amazing. It gave me back my drive and belief in my writing. It made me feel that there actually is room for my kind of writing too, and one day someone is going to want to sing my words, exactly as they are or with a few tweaks.
Talking about my long-suffering friends that never tire of reading my work and always are there for support, I have to say it would be a very lonely journey without their support and feedback. I never take it for granted and I am always grateful that they take time to read my creations.
A very special friend of mine for over thirty years happened to have a big birthday the first year I was writing song-lyrics. I wanted to do something different for that birthday and asked my writing partner at the time, Fredrik Holm, if he would write the music if I wrote some lyrics to my friend for this birthday. Fredrik was happy to do so, and the result became a song called “Safe” (Ulla’s song). It is one of the first lyrics I ever wrote, and I will share it with you today. Tine Sylvest is singing.
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Safe (Ulla’s song) (Semi-finalist in UKSC 2015)
I had a violent start
which broke my heart.
It made me scared and shy
and wondering why?
I believed it was me
and wanted to flee.
Kept my dreams deep inside,
and continued to hide.
You made me believe it was fine to be me.
I’ve always wondered what it was you could see?
No judgement, just patience, a place I could grow,
rest and recover from life’s every blow.
I was safe!
I was hurting and repeated mistakes for years on end
On the surface, my life became so hard to defend.
Many turned their back, gave up and shut their door.
You saw behind the hurt in me and stayed, just like before.
I was safe!
You gave me a voice
and I found a choice.
I’ve left my past behind
clearing my mind.
I have a long way to go
but the strength to say no.
Having you as a friend,
has helped me mend!
© 2013 Åsa Sandberg