Never be the same

How many out there actually write most of their stuff sitting in front of a computer? And when I say write I don’t mean putting the words down on paper. To me that’s not writing. It’s just transferring the finished product onto paper; the final non-creative stage of the writing process.

I did none of that on the Friday just gone, but according to my way of seeing things I was writing all day long. Let me tell you about my Friday in detail, and trust me, there will be a point to this in the end.

On Friday I prepared lunches and cakes for morning and afternoon coffee for a two-day course that started on Saturday. Since I was scheduled to work at my normal job outside our home both Saturday and Sunday, I needed to prepare as much as possible of the course food on Friday. So, I made a Russian mushroom soup with cream and garlic, to be served with garlic bread. Delicious, if I may say so myself. To give the people on the course a choice, I also made a tomato soup a’ la Närpes. A Town close to where I come from in Finland. That soup is to be served with olives and feta cheese, and yes, I find this one delicious too.

When that was done, I made an onion pie to be served with baby potatoes and a fresh salad today, Sunday. After that I started to concentrate on desserts. I baked four dozen mince pies for Saturday and for afternoon coffee I made a chocolate swiss roll that I filled with banana and cream and I also covered with cream. Between doing the cooking and baking I’ve also washed some clothes and vacuumed the house, walked the dog etc.

You would be forgiven if you now were wondering what this can possibly have to do with lyric writing? Well, a couple of weeks ago, I saw a photo of a painting from a friend’s first art exhibition. I’ve seen the painting many times before and I absolutely love it. It is beautiful, sad, strong with both darkness and hope shining through in the motif. Anyway, seeing it again, I immediately got a twinge of an idea for a song lyric inspired by the painting, but that was all. The twinge made me believe there could be a good idea developing, but I also knew I had to leave that little seed of an idea to do its own thing. I couldn’t talk about it or even consciously think about it. I had to give it time.

On Friday while cooking, which is another creative outlet I truly love, the idea from that little twinge started to develop. First, I got the name of the song, and it will be called “Never be the same”. I also realised it will be a Christmas song, which surprised me, but in a happy way. After that I got the frame work and after that possible sentences of the chorus started to appear.

I suppose this writing process started, because I was so happy and relaxed whilst getting on with my cooking and baking, so I had time to communicate with my subconscious where the seed of this song lyric had been quietly taking form for a couple of weeks.

It probably won’t be that long before I can show you the finished product, because my writing process is quite quick most of the time after I have got this far.

I just wanted to share this with you, because what I’ve just describes is what I like most about creative writing. It is the weird and wonderful ways a story just appear when I’m in the middle of doing things that seem to be as far from writing as they possibly could be.

It may not be the “recommended” way of writing, but hey, it works for me and I will continue to write stories and song lyrics inside my mind while multitasking with one domestic chore or another, for as long as it works. If it means sitting less hours in front of a screen it can only be good in my book.

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

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How to choose a subject or story

I like getting asked questions, that makes me find out more about how I react and why I react as I do. Yesterday, I was asked if I would be prepared to change the angle of a song lyric of mine and have the song the lyrics features in, redone and reproduced with that new angle. I have heard brilliant productions form the place the friend that asked me, is using, so obviously I would have been curious to find out how the result from a production like that would sound, but still I never even considered the change. This particular song lyric is so very special to me and I know that it can be interpreted in many different ways already, the way it is written, so changing it is not an option for me. The only change I could do, and feel both the song and lyric could gain from is to add a bridge, but we’ll see what happens.

 
Sometimes you must just follow your heart and even more importantly your gut. I can still remember how I felt when this particular lyric came about. It just appeared, late one evening and what I wrote about has become even more important to me during the last twelve months, so to change the whole meaning of my lyric would be absolutely impossible. Even the thought of it made me feel sick in my gut. I did change the chorus quite a bit when the lyrics became a song, and I can totally see why those changes were necessary. I can also see how those changes made the chorus much better, but that is not the same thing as changing what the story is about deep down.

 
I sometimes wonder if I would need to use my head more than I do when writing, so I would write lyrics more user friendly for the business. I have already reined myself in an awful lot since I started. Back then I was out to prove that it is possible to take any subject matter and make it into a popular song. I still feel it should be like that, but I have also learned that in reality that isn’t so. Still, if it is a lyric, where I know the words really touches people, I will stand my ground, because if the words in a song can move people to tears in the right way, it must be right whatever the story. This also means it will work as a song in some genre. Maybe not for the younger listeners, but I’m not sure I’m able to write lyrics for that generation anymore anyway. Some things maybe accidently written sometimes, but not consciously or planned. I can only draw from my own experiences through the years when writing and logically that means that my kind of writing and my way of thinking should appeal better with middle aged people.

 
Going back to this particular lyric I was asked if I would consider changing, I have to say I am so grateful for the experience the collaboration gave me the first time around. It forced me to accept that changing my lyrics can be a good thing and this started a totally new journey for me from where I now have changed a lot of my old lyrics and, in my opinion, made them better thanks to that change. None of the changes have been about changing the story though. I’ve just changed words. While writing this, I’m realising that I don’t think I ever would change the angle or storyline in my lyrics, because most of them come from my gut and personally I never override what my gut tells me to something my head wants to do. At least not when writing. I much prefer to write a new lyric with the story line in question if that ever would be the case.

 
I don’t know how you, out there, choose your stories when writing lyrics. Do you just write from your gut or do you let your head rule what comes out on the paper? Which ever way, I wish you all a good, creative week.

 

 

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

Writing is healthy for us!

Today I feel I want to share this blog below with you all. I saw it on the UK Songwriting contest’s homepage and it confirms what I have instinctively known for a long time. Writing makes me happier and healthier. It doesn’t matter what I write, as long as I write. To me it doesn’t matter if the health factors are proven by science, I would continue to write even if that wasn’t the case. Still, maybe these scientific findings will give someone out there the nudge to finally pick up the pen and just let the words flow.

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!

 

Åsa

SCIENCE CONFIRMS THAT SONGWRITING IS GOOD FOR YOU

The act of creative writing, and songwriting in particular, has more benefits than most people realize.

The benefits are far reaching, affecting us both physically and mentally, and the interesting thing is that the quality of the writing has nothing to do with it. Just the act of writing itself leads to strong physical and mental health benefits and it doesn´t matter if anyone else reads your lyric or hears your composition, or if it is a commercial success or not. Just writing it is enough. The many benefits documented by researchers include long-term improvements in mood, reduction in stress levels, a reduction of depressive symptoms, lowered blood pressure, better lung and liver function and an improved immune system with fewer illnesses.

A major study at the University of Sidney (by Karen Baikie and Kay Wilhelm) on emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing discovered just how much time spent writing is needed to make a big difference. And its not that much. They say that although the more time spent writing the better, just 15 to 20 minutes of writing on three to five occasions over the course of their four-month study was enough to make a real and noticeable difference.

Another amazing finding is that writing can even make physical wounds heal faster. A study in New Zealand found that if medical biopsy patients wrote about their thoughts and feelings for just 20 minutes for three days in a row before the biopsy their wounds healed more quickly than the people in a control group. Other studies have shown that people with asthma who write have fewer attacks than those who don’t, AIDS patients who write have higher T-cell counts and cancer patients who write have more optimistic perspectives and improved quality of life.

So what exactly is it about writing that makes it so good for you? Well, researchers are generally agreed that the important thing is to express your own personal, traumatic, stressful or emotional events in your writing and composing. It seems that this is the key and it is this expression of personal events and trauma that leads to improvement in physical and mental health.

One well known researcher in this area is James W. Pennebaker from the University of Texas, Austin, USA. He is a leading authority on expressive writing and health and he says; “When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals they often experience improved health. They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function.” Pennebaker and others believe that the act of expressive writing distances people from the upheaval and trauma in their lives and allows them the space to creatively step back and express and evaluate their personal dramas and tragedies. They stop obsessing unhealthily on those events and instead they focus on turning this into a positive creative outcome. This leads to lower stress levels, a more positive outlook and an improvement in general health.

The good news is that you don’t need to be a famous or successful songwriter to get these great benefits. You just need to write! As a songwriter you probably already know that writing songs goes deeper than, well, just writing songs. We all instinctively know when we write that there is more going on at a deeper level. But now it has been confirmed by science. Every time you write a lyric or poem that expresses your feelings and your inner self, or compose a piece of music that expresses and contains a part of you, you are acting as your own personal therapist and doing your physical and mental health a huge favour. If you are a songwriter you are certainly doing something right. Keep on writing!

The International UK Songwriting Contest is now open for entries at www.uksongwritingcontest.com

Best wishes,
The UKSC Team

Growing and changing

This morning I have been looking through lyrics I’ve written this year, to pick out a few extra to send to various competitions. By doing so I realised something which made me feel a mixture of both happiness and sadness. I have moved on! When reading through some of the lyrics that I wrote in the beginning of this year, I didn’t recognise myself in that way of writing anymore.

What I personally feel has happened, is that I have grown and therefore what I write as a lyric writer has changed. I have taken a couple of significant steps forward and because of this I see no point entering earlier lyrics anymore. I don’t think the lyrics I looked through would make the cut for the semis in any competition and, even more important; they don’t represent me anymore. Realising this, I might as well count this moment as ground zero for my lyric writing. From now on I will draw a line under what has been and start afresh from the level I’m writing from today.

Whether or not I am right in what I’m sensing, will hopefully be confirmed or rejected very soon. One of the lyrics I’ve written since I took one of these steps forward is still waiting to come back from the judges at the UK Songwriting Contest (UKSC) Most “half term results” were presented last Wednesday, except for some “Lyrics Only” entries that also were taking part in the “Lyricist of the year” competition. These was said to take a “few” days longer because they were having to be seen by two different panels of judges.
Eight days on and I’m still waiting, but UKSC has put a message on the dashboard where the result will appear. The message reads; “If your result has not appeared above yet do not worry, some Lyrics Only entries are delayed slightly because of our arrangement with The Lyricist of The Year Awards. It will appear soon. If anything, this might be a good sign.”

The second lyric I’ve written, where the writing process itself, and my style of writing, made me feel I had reached a new level of development is sitting at an evaluator in the US at the moment. Hopefully the evaluator will notice the same thing that I feel, but even if they don’t, I can’t really do anything anymore anyway with my old lyrics. Personally I feel both me, and also time, has passed them by.

There is a slight difference in how I feel about my lyrics if I go back to the first couple of years of writing. In some of them I can still see a glimmer of hope. With some adjustments and a few word changes, I may still be able to revive some of them.

Just the other day I did make adjustments to one of my very early lyrics that for some reason always makes me smile, because I feel it describes today’s world fairly accurately in an ironic sort of way. It didn’t make the cut for the semis in its original state in 2015 but was awarded a commended entry. If I feel I want to spend money on a wild card this season, I might just give this one a second chance with its adjustments, because the subject matter is even more topical today than it was three years ago. The lyrics are called “Me, myself and I”, and I will share them with you today, maybe this can be a bridge between the old and the new as I hopefully continue to grow and change as a lyric writer.

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

Me, myself and I
I don’t know when people,
became obsolete.
We all were replaced by
a service elite.

The service in question,
ain’t bought from no shelf.
We all have it in us
it wears the name “Self”.

it’s all about “Self” now,
who could ask for more?
To think of another,
can be such a bore!

From now, all that matters,
is me, myself and I.
A self-contained unit,
from birth ‘til we die.

Chorus
So, me, myself and I
will have to wave goodbye.
We can’t waste time on you,
since we’re a single crew.
Don’t tell us how you feel,
it isn’t a big deal!
What doesn’t involve us,
can’t make us give a toss.

Bridge
Self-service, self-centred,
and selfies galore.
Woohoo
Self-service, self-centred,
and selfies galore.

Don’t think that I’m selfish,
I share all day long.
My thoughts and my pictures,
point out what is wrong.

The world can be stressful,
for me and my lot.
But we got us covered,
when all goes to pot.

Chorus
So, me, myself and I
will have to wave goodbye.
We can’t waste time on you,
since we’re a single crew.
Don’t tell us how you feel,
It isn’t a big deal!
What doesn’t involve us,
can’t make us give a toss.
©2015/2018 Åsa Sandberg

No pure intentions

If, like me, you are a person that likes the journey of self-discovery it’s strange how it is somehow never ending. When you think you have explored every nook and cranny, every dirt road, every cul-de-sac inside yourself and feel you’ve got your answers, then it starts again. Nothing explains the inside journey better than the illustration of the onion. You peel layer after layer, but somehow there is always more. What I’m realising at the moment is that even though I may be fooled into thinking that the issues I will have to deal with closer to the core are simpler, because they inevitably look smaller, they are much denser and harder to get hold of to peel off. I think they also hold all those things I haven’t been ready for earlier in my development, so subconsciously I have pushed them away, creating these dense layers that I’m now starting to consciously be aware off.

It was actually yesterday, when writing my other blog https://overweight-thoughts.blog/ that my next layer came into vision for me. I was talking about how I always have been putting so much pressure on myself to achieve brilliance in one creative area of my life or another, that I never really took into consideration that I may not be capable of such heights, so I now feel on the brink of serious exhaustion. In my blog yesterday I challenged myself, saying that maybe it was time for me to accept mediocracy from myself? Not saying that I wouldn’t continue to try my hardest, but maybe it was time for me to start to accept that if what I send out into the world to get judged, comes back to me as an okay attempt instead of an exceptional one, this should also be good enough for me.

This thought felt very uncomfortable to me yesterday, and it doesn’t sit any better with me this morning, but at least I have become aware of something inside me that needs resolving. My next step is to ask why I am so driven? Why is brilliance so important to me? I know I have a tendency to expect a lot from people around me too, but I’m always hardest on myself.

While I was out walking my dog Columbo this morning, I finally was able to admit to myself what is the fuel that drives me, and why it won’t allow me to let go of the dream of one day achieving something that, in my own eyes, is good enough. Sadly, my reasons for wanting to achieve something worth recognising in bigger circumstances aren’t pure or noble at all. Although the fuel that drives me is very pure. It is a pure hate and anger that has built up inside me for the last five decades. “I’ll show them!” is the sentence that is my drive. “I’ll show them all”. It seems like I have put all the anger and hate which has developed inside me, starting from the lack of support and understanding of my creativity at home as a child; all my childhood bullies; all the people that have at some time in my life betrayed or lied to me in a big way into this fuel. All of this I have buried inside a distillery living inside my soul and from that I draw this high-octane fuel built on unresolved hate and anger.

Granted, it’s not the worst thing in the world to do; aiming all my collective hurts and wounds that I have had time to gather in my life, towards something as positive as creativity. My problem is that the longer the hurts have been bubbling away in my private distillery, the purer and higher the octane, the bigger my personal achievement will have to be in order to satisfy me in my strive to “show them”.

A lot of “them” I probably don’t even remember anymore, but I remember enough for it to be difficult for me to change over to a more environmentally friendly fuel for my creative driving force. The pure, hate fuelled stuff at the moment seems to be what’s needed to keep the fire burning inside me.

Accepting this, I also have to accept that I’m most certainly steering straight towards a head collision with my next paradox in life. I’ve learned the hard way that most things I really want in life, I have to let go of or set free, before they can be mine. I won’t lie to you; this realisation makes me angry. I’m not sure I am capable of getting rid of my hate filled fuel, that has been driving me for so long, but I am pretty sure that I won’t produce anything that I personally will accept as good enough creatively, while my main driving force is “I will show them”. I also know that if I can’t get to a point where I can accept my work on whatever level it lives on, I will soon hit a wall of pure and serious exhaustion, and if that happens, I won’t have much choice in the matter anymore anyway.

They say, we will never be given anything in life that we are not strong enough to cope with. I have just been shown my next layer in my personal onion. Hopefully I will be able to peel it off and come out on the other side of it with a capability of accepting my creativity just as it is, without any demands on the end result being different or better. It will just be an extension of me and my life experiences but without having to be presented as a product that needs to “show anybody” anything.

This won’t happen overnight, but the chance of it happening at all is much bigger today than it was yesterday, because today I’ve been given the awareness to be able to start working on my next step of self-development, which is a very humbling feeling that fills me with gratitude.

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa