At peace with the journey

Two days ago, I entered into the UK Sonwriting contest one additional lyric and one song where I have collaborated with a composer, making the tally to the first part of the competition three new lyrics and two song collaborations.

 
I mentioned this on UKSCs Facebook page and another competitor that I “talked” to quite a lot last year via the same FB page, asked me how I had been doing since last years results and if my musical dreams had come true? When answering, I got very surprised over what I said, but it is in a happy way. This is what I said: “I feel I am on the right track when it comes to my lyric writing and I’m at peace with the journey!

 
I’m at peace with the journey! How incredible is that! I think I will allow myself a pat on the back for being able to say that and mean it!

 
I suppose you could ask me if I suddenly have lost all my aspirations? If what I want for myself in this creative job has faded? No, is the answer to both those questions. I still burn for the day when I once again get a result I personally can look at as a successful one,. I still want to be able to earn money from writing lyrics, but what I have learned is that those dreams won’t be handed to me on a silver plate from the outside. At least not until I have done the legwork and completed my inside journey and, in all honesty, can say that I have done everything in my power to become as good a writer as I can be.
The reason I’m at peace with my journey is that I am working on becoming better as often and as much as possible. I know I have a few miles to go yet, but I have also travelled a few miles already and done a lot of learning lately. If my efforts so far are rewarded with good marks in the competitions this year, I will be very happy, but the best thing is that I have no expectations what so ever.

 
I think I got a bit spoilt in 2015 when I scooped home 8 semi-final places from UKSC. I thought lyric writing was easy, and the next two years I expected the results to mirror my debut year, especially since I did exactly the same thing. Well, so much is wrong with my last two statements. Firstly; -lyric writing is not easy. Not if I want to aim for good lyrics. Secondly; – I did exactly the same thing! How arrogant and ignorant was that? I never bothered to learn anything new. I thought that I, out of the blue had got the perfect formula for lyric writing and kept hammering down lyric after lyric out of the same old mould. Thank goodness I’ve had some sense knocked into me since then.

 
Another thing has also happened since the UKSC competition 2015. The judges have raised the bar. If I were to enter the lyrics I entered in 2015 again this year, I can’t see many of them making the semis. This doesn’t take anything away from either my lyrics or the 2015 competition. I played in a playing field where all were judged by the same standards, on which ever level the standard was that year, and among those entries mine were thought of as good enough to get awarded 8 semi final places. My mistake the following years was that the competition moved on to new heights and I didn’t.

 
Still, I hadn’t realised that I was feeling as good as I was about where I’m at with my writing, until I was asked the question. I’m sure, a year from now, my goal will be on a higher level, if I can continue to see and feel development, but for now it is all good!
I am obviously very curious about how my entries to this first part of the UKSC will be received, and I can’t wait to find out within the next week or so, but it is a wonderful feeling not to have any expectations what so ever. It gives me a great feeling of harmony from where I can continue my journey.

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

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In real life

Since the foundation of this blog is lyric writing in general, and more specifically about my own development as a lyric writer as well as my thoughts around that development, I can’t help feeling that I need to present a new song-lyric for you from my own pen now and again. Deciding it is time to write something in my blog that includes a brand-new song-lyric is scary, because if I don’t succeed in writing a new lyric, I don’t have a blog post. Still, it is a good scary because it forces me to get creative. Mr. Deadline is the best collaborator anyone can have.

 
This feeling of presenting a new song-lyric once again, has been making itself known for a few weeks now. Sadly, with a second job, my life has become a bit busier of late, so the creative flow has had to take a back seat. Writing that last sentence is just as horrible as it feels, but sometimes needs must and right now I am in one of those times.

 
However, two things have prompted the brand-new lyric I’ve actually written today. The first one was my realisation about how tired I’ve become of social media. I wrote about that a few blog posts back. The second one came only a couple of days ago, when I found out that the world was celebrating “The international emoji day” or something like that. I mean; -really!!!

 
However, I should be grateful, because this made me decide what my new lyric would be about. It was to be about two old friends doing something as strange as meeting up in real life, IRL, taking time out from their smart phones and just go for a long walk in the country side laughing and reconnecting, without having to try and make their words fit into a specific amount of characters and not having to rely on smileys to express how they feel. Doesn’t that sound rather wonderful? I think so.

 
The lyric is called “IRL” and somehow, I hope it will prompt some of you reading this to take the step to reconnect for real again with someone important to you that you haven’t seen for a while. Don’t let the fear of “maybe it’s not a good time” stop you. You will know you’ve done the right thing, when you see their happy face, just as I write in my lyric.

 

 

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

 

 

IRL
Woke up Sunday morning,
thinking of a good, old friend.
Grabbed my phone to text her,
stopped before my thumb hit send.

 

Then I grabbed my car keys,
drove two hours to her place.
Knew I’d done the right thing,
when I saw her happy face.

 

Then I said;
Chorus
Let’s go for a walk! In real life!
Have a proper talk! IRL!
Laugh out loud, just us. In real life!
No emoji-smiles and fuss. IRL!
Just be here and now. In real life!
IRL!

 

Never brought our phones,
just disconnected from it all.
We stayed out for hours,
with no need for social walls.

 

Chorus
Let’s go for a walk! In real life!
Have a proper talk! IRL!
Laugh out loud, just us. In real life!
No emoji-smiles and fuss. IRL!
Just be here and now. In real life!
IRL!

 

Bridge
A friend, a smile.
To live a while.
Connect for real.
Can’t beat that deal!

 

Chorus
Let’s go for a walk! In real life!
Have a proper talk! IRL!
Laugh out loud, just us. In real life!
No emoji-smiles and fuss. IRL!
Just be here and now. In real life!
IRL
©Åsa Sandberg 2018

Self-acceptance

Today I’m doing something I probably will never do again, but I’m doing it because of the realisation that what I’m talking about will most likely make an enormous difference to the way I write song lyrics from now on. So, what is it I’m going to do? Well, I’m going to share a blog post here from a different blog I’m writing, called “Overweight thoughts” to put into my blog about lyric writing.

 
In this blog post called “Mirror, mirror on the wall” I share a very powerful moment and a realisation I had at work yesterday and I’m sharing it with you, here because I know I’m far from the only one struggling with issues like this. I also know that everything in our lives is connected. If I am at peace with myself, I will write better song-lyrics, even if I may choose to write sad lyrics. I’ll let you read the parts of the blog I have cut out as relevant to my song-writing and get back to you at the end.

 

I can’t remember a time in my life when I haven’t hated mirrors with all of my heart. I have avoided looking into them as much as I’ve been able to, because I have been so appalled with the image facing me. It has made me cringe, look away and feel sick. Facing myself in the mirror or on a photo has actually been the worst thing someone could force me to do.

 
Even those few years in the early 1990’s when I was slimmer than I had ever been, I had the same problems with photos and mirrors, which means that not all of this horror has to do with weight. It’s more to do with not recognising the person in my reflection or in a photo as me. As the person I know I am meant to be both inside and out.

 
In 1990 when I lost weight successfully for the first time, I thought getting rid of excess weight and looking “normal” would solve all my problems and with that done, I would settle into the routines people do in their mid-twenties (or did back then) with steady jobs, a house and sooner or later a family. The horror I felt when I realised that however slim I was, I still was as insecure, I still had the same difficulties “socialising” with small talk, I still hated to go out to night clubs, etc. All these thigs made me a loner. A loner that felt like the piece of a jigsaw that had landed in the wrong box and didn’t belong to the picture. It was this feeling which got me started down a road where most things in my life would become very much worse before they finally became better.

 
I’ve now realised that back in 1990, I didn’t like my mirror image, because I didn’t recognise what was inside my physical frame as the real me. Me; -the person I was meant to be according to my soul, was hidden behind so many insecurities and horrors from my life up to that point that, even if the frame may have been the one I feel most comfortable in, everything else was wrong. I have also realised that every attempt I’ve made since the 90’s to get back to my ideal weight have failed, because inside I wasn’t ready. In my mind I was still judging myself for absolutely every mistake I’ve ever made (and they are many). Sadly, I also have an excellent memory when it comes to remembering my own mistakes, and unfortunately also those of other’s. There was no way I could succeed in losing weight while I kept on punishing myself for everything I’d done wrong and harbouring negative thoughts towards other people in my life that weren’t perfect either.

 
This year has so far been full of miracles on many levels. Last week I told you that I have realised that I am now healed inside. I have suddenly been able to stop blaming myself for everything that goes wrong in this world and I have managed to let go of my self-judgement.

 
Well this morning, while cleaning the floor in the female locker room at the supermarket I now work in, I had the biggest miracle of them all. As always going in I looked down to avoid looking into the full mirror in the room. Then something inside me said; why don’t you take a look. So, I did. A bit hesitant, but I did. Then I got my miracle. I didn’t cringe, I didn’t feel sick and I didn’t look away! Instead I looked at me. And I felt a very deep happiness because I finally recognised myself in the mirror image. Just as I am supposed to be. Granted, I still have a good two stones (15kg) to lose before I am where I want to be with my physical weight, but the person looking back at me was definitely me. Both inside and out; warts and all. I am so happy I was alone in the locker room because this self-acceptance was so powerful that I could not hold back the tears. It’s taken me almost 52 years to get to a point in my life where I can look at myself in a mirror and say; “Hello! Nice to finally meet you! Well done for getting this far. Enjoy the rest of your life!”

 
No one who hasn’t felt that intense disgust when seeing oneself in the mirror, will ever really understand how big this moment was and what it has taken to get to where I am today, being able to write this down for all of you to read. All of you that haven’t had to experience that on your life’s journey, will just have to believe me when I say that it is one of the most extraordinary things that has happened in my life. I suppose it is called self-acceptance.

 

I think that if we don’t feel good enough or feel insecure as people, it is hard to reach our full potential as lyric writers. In my case I know that when I’m writing it has made me avoid some subjects. For instance, sometimes I just haven’t felt secure enough in myself as a person to share my honest emotions through a song lyric, even if I know the lyric would have benefited from my honesty.

 
Let’s hope that my newly found self-acceptance will allow me to write whatever I feel like writing from now on and lets also hope that you out there reading this, feeling the same way I have felt, and will be able to get to your point of self-acceptance very, very soon, because you are worth it!

 

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

Fed up of social media

I know my headline may be a strange one for a blog that is supposed to be about song-lyrics, music and writing, but sadly there is no getting away from the effects of social media anywhere today. Whether I want to or not, the constant reminders and fleeting comments about how “you can’t make it without social media today”, strikes a fear in me and I somehow feel I will be left behind even more than I am today if I don’t develop my social media pages, and also increase the number of platforms I’m using.

 
My problem is that I am so bored with and fed up by everything that has to do with social media. I am getting to the end of a social media marketing course that, admittedly, has been fairly interesting, however I have also realised that it is not relevant for me and my situation. It doesn’t matter how many collaborators I could lure to my, at the moment, non-existing website via clever tweets or wonderful Instagram pictures of my cats, dog or the local nature. I really don’t have enough success stories behind me to keep someone interested of my lyric writing, as things are today. Why would I then waste time writing clever tweets or come up with the right hashtags and also the right number of hashtags to my Instagram pictures? I’ve learned through my social media course that 13 hashtags per Instagram picture gives the optimal number of clicks to my picture.

 

Personally, I find it a horrendous waste of time figuring out 13 different hashtags to every picture. Especially since I don’t think 17 semi-final places in UK songwriting contest and one good placement in the SongDoor competition will make that many composers believe in my potential. In my experience most people looking for collaborators are searching for someone that already has had more success than themselves, or is showing more potential.

 
This social media course is also telling me that the worst thing I can do on my FB business page is to sell. Instead I am supposed to build up a relationship with my followers and make them trust me via my organic posts. If I advertise, that has to be done in a clever way too, so that people don’t think that I am advertising. I’m supposed to do it via a “Click to action” advert. “Like this”, Click here”, etc. that then takes the person clicking on my link to my website or wherever I want to take them.

 
Since the FB algorithm recently changed and only 1% of my followers on my business site will actually see my organic posts, it seems like a terrible waste of time to spend energy trying to build up a relationship in that way. My normal FB page looks more and more like a dumping place for all the junk mail that use to come through the letterbox. At least I had the choice to put a notice on my mailbox opting out from receiving junk mail but getting rid of the constant flow of adverts on FB would be a fulltime occupation.
Yesterday evening I watched the programme “Panorama” and an episode called Smartphones: The dark side. All I have sort of known about how we are manipulated to spend more and more time on our phones through the pings when someone is messaging us and the red colour on the number of messages we have, made me feel both stupid and angry. All companies crating various apps and social media platforms have people working for them who are well educated in how to control people’s minds. They know exactly which buttons to press, pardon the pun, to make us spend more and more time on various pages, – all this so that they can show a growth in their quarterly financial report and keep their sponsors happy to invest in them again.

 
One of the app developers even showed that he kept his smartphone in monochrome colours, to prevent some of the addiction the use of our smart phones creates via colours carefully chosen by developers to make our brains behave in a certain way.

 
Mark Zuckerberg, creator and CEO of Facebook, today “owns” two third of the worlds population, because that is now how many of us who have a FB account. These days he also owns Instagram and WhatsApp. He maintains that social media is good for us, because connecting with people is a good thing. Is it only me that feels like no one is connecting with anyone anymore? Not for real. IRL (in real life) has to be added these days, if we say we have been talking to someone, because most people think that “talking” mean chatting or facetime or anything but real life. The space awareness on the streets has become ridiculous. No one looks where they walk anymore, because the street isn’t where people are at, even when walking. They are in what ever world they have chosen on their phones whilst getting from point A to point B. It infuriates me, when I have to shout out “be careful”, watch out” or “excuse me” numerous times when I am walking my dog, because people are about to walk in to me or have stopped in the middle of the street to check out a bit more carefully something on their phone. And these “drones” don’t even say excuse me anymore, because they are so within their own bubble, that it doesn’t even enter their minds that being polite “in real life” still is a good option.

 
From today I will take away FB and Instagram from my phone. I only check them by habit anyway and take part in the conversation less and less. I would cancel my accounts, and it still may come to that, but the fear of getting left behind is sitting there, nagging me. Therefore, I will do the next best thing and only give myself access to these platforms when I’m on my PC.

 
I can’t help but draw parallels between “The Borg” in Star Trek and FB. “We are Borg. We will assimilate you. Resistance is futile.” While I still can, I will refuse to become a drone and a slave to the way FB and other big platforms want me to think. It may be an illusion, but I choose to evoke my right of free choice!

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

Attention!

If you are reading this as a budding lyric writer, I’d suggest you pay attention to my blog today. I have delved a bit further into the treasure trove of the song writing course “Success for your songs”, http://www.successforyoursongs.com and today I’m going to share something that made the penny drop for me when I read it.

 
Personally, I’ve gone from trying to make things a bit too complicated to become as simplistic as I possibly can. The text I’m sharing with you today from Anthony Ceseri has given me the blueprint as to how I can practise my similes or metaphors in ways to capture my audience from the word go. The language can still be simple, but I have to evoke people’s senses. This is what Antony says;

 

A great lyrical introduction is an excellent way to get your listeners interested in your story right off that bat. Plus, if it’s a snoozer, you run the risk of losing them. People have really short attention spans these days, so effectively grabbing their attention early is crucial. Having said that, I better get to my point… and make it quick!

I recently revisited a great example of a strong opening line in the song “Round Here” by Counting Crows. The first line of the song says:

“Step out the front door like a ghost into a fog, where no one notices the contrast of white on white.”

This is a great intro for a few reasons. The first is it’s really visual. Any time you engage the senses, you’re probably doing a good job of inviting people into your story. This line does that by engaging your sense of sight. It’s easy to picture a ghost and a fog as described here. Immediately, we set a stage of what this lyric will look like in our heads. It’s even fun to try and visualize the slight contrast that might actually be there between what we envision a ghost to look like and a thick fog.

 
In addition to that, this is a fantastic simile. There’s a comparison being made between someone who feels they just aren’t being noticed by the world, and a ghost in a fog. The element that ties these two thoughts together to make it an effective simile, is the idea that no one can see this person. It works very well.

 
This opening line is also very intriguing. After hearing it, I already want to know more because it’s so interesting. Had the first line had the same idea, but been said more simplistically and generically, I wouldn’t care as much. What if the song had opened with a line like this:

“Step out the front door, feeling like no one can see me.”

Eh. Suddenly I just don’t care as much anymore. I mean, it’s basically saying the same thing as the real first line, but in a bland, non-descriptive and generic way. Maybe I’d listen carefully to the rest of the lyrics. But maybe I wouldn’t. The “ghost into a fog line” is infinitely stronger and makes me want to stick around for more.

 
You can see how putting a really strong line up front is a great way to get your listeners excited about your story right off the bat. Granted, you want to keep them interested as your story continues along, but that first line can be crucial to getting their attention. Good imagery with a strong simile or metaphor, like we saw in the opening line of “Round Here,” is an awesome way to get your song rolling.

 

I do hope you find that just as useful as I did!

Take care and Happy Writing!

Åsa

 

Kill them with kindness

When I was a child, I was bullied. I remember thinking that when I grew up, this behaviour would stop, because grown up people know better. Hah! How wrong I was. It turns out that bullies never really change, except, maybe to get worse. A trade mark for bullies is that they want what everybody else has, but they are too thick to realise that you have to work for the things you want in life. Therefore, the typical bully, grows more and more bitter and jealous the older they get and the further they are left behind.

Due to various circumstances, I threw away fourteen years of my life and a career that was on the up within the media branch. When I finally came to my senses I was 40 years old, with no chance of picking up where I left off. Getting work on the ground floor was my only option. I spent eight years in one job, where I met a lot of other 40+ people that had been working in the same place since they left school. Some of them saw the job for what it was, a means to an end, and they had plenty going on outside this job, and did not let it wear them down. Then we had this other group. The ones that got more and more bitter for every day they spent in a job that they hated, and they obviously needed someone outside themselves to turn this bitterness against. Their favourite targets were people that hadn’t been working in this place very long and who still dared to dream.

I was one of those who dared to dream, because I believed in my own creativity. Since I love being creative in many different ways, I started to build things with a career in mind. I may have been too old and with too long a gap in my CV, to be able to get back into a well-paid job of my chosen career, but I had all the possibilities in the world to make something of myself as a self employed individual. Thanks to this belief, the soul-destroying job that paid my mortgage never broke me. What it did in the end though, was to make me a target for the bullies. It finally became my turn to get taught “to know my place”.

To begin with it was horrible. The mental bullying was both brutal and childish and sometimes it took all the courage I had to actually go in to work, knowing what was waiting. In the end I knew I needed a strategy of my own, and what I came up with was to kill my antagonists with kindness. So, I started to go into work with a broad smile on my face. I looked everybody in the eye and I always said, “Good morning.” I never let myself get pulled into any kind of gossip. I spoke politely, if spoken to, but if I was ignored I just smiled and continued with my day.

To begin with, nothing seemed to change, but with this change of attitude, I was never scared to go in to work any more. Also, I could leave my work behind when going home, instead of mulling things over in my head and losing any well needed sleep. Then slowly but surely, things started to change and two years after I had put my plan into action, I had succeeded in killing them with kindness. The bullying stopped when they realised they couldn’t break me. Twelve months later when I left the job I had both become, and stayed, “the flavour of the month” for quite some time.

The reason I am telling you this story, is that I have decided to write a song lyric called “Killing them with kindness”, because I feel it could be a good story within that line actually. I was reminded of these years last week when the one, single person with the same trade marks at my present job, was working the same shifts I was. I had to make a swift decision to start with my old method again. So, watch this space. “Killing them with kindness” will soon be done.

While going through the tough times in my old job, I did write a song lyric about bullying called “I pity you”. Fredrik Holm put my words to music. It became our only journey into the outer fringes of the rap-genre. Tine Sylvest helped us by recording the demo for us. Please have a listen if you feel like it. We all know someone like the person described in the lyrics.

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

I pity you! 

Too fat or too thin, too quiet or too loud?
It isn’t very easy to fit into a crowd.
There really shouldn’t be a need to act a certain way
but bullies all around us make it hard to feel ok.

Too dim or too scared, too stupid or just mean?
There are as many reasons, as bullies to be seen.
What do you have to gain from making people feel all bad?
You strange and lonely person, forcing others to feel sad!

Chorus
To bully is a good excuse for getting nowhere fast
You’re just too scared of living life to have a real blast!
I pity you!
I pity you!
I pity you!

One day you’ll be sitting by yourself, growing old
Your days will be so empty, your nights will be as cold.
The way you lived your life will make you easy to forget
or maybe be the one we wish we never would have met.

Bridge
Why don’t you change tactics,
make someone your friend.
Turn hate into love
bring bullying to an end.

Chorus
©2013Åsa Sandberg

What is your favourite story?

Is there a connection between what kind of stories/books/films we like and the kind of song lyrics we are drawn to? I think there is. In general, I like stories that gives me an environment I can feel comfortable in. I like narratives that I feel I can trust and can learn something from. I also like details, as long as the details have a purpose.

 
As a child, my favourite writer was Astrid Lindgren. A Swedish Master of Children’s books whose books have been translated into 72 different languages. My absolute favourite, which I still read once a year, is called “The Lionheart Brothers”. A book that did very well all over the world, except in the UK. In fact, hardly any of Lindgren’s books became popular in England, even though they were loved by the rest of the world. “The Lionheart Brothers” talks about death, which may be a strange ting for a children’s book or, at least it was unusual before Harry Potter entered the stage. I was five or six years old when “The Lionheart Brothers” was published, and I have loved it ever since. The book has so much love and light in it which shines even brighter because of the sharp contrast of the evil and darkness that also fits within the pages. It fights the same fight between good and evil as our daily life, but in fairy-tale form, and this is a format that I’ve always gravitated towards.

 
As a young teenager I found Alistair MacLean and his thrillers and probably read them all. Ice Station Zebra, Where Eagles Dare, The Guns of Navarone and Puppet on a Chain springs to mind as favourites. MacLean wrote very detailed content, so I suppose it doesn’t come as a surprise that my absolute favourite writer today is Dan Brown. Another favourite is JK Rowling and the Harry Potter series. In them we are back to the struggle between light and dark and, just as in real life, no one is safe and guaranteed to survive, however big a part a character has played in the story line.

 
When it comes to films made out of these books the ones about the fight between the light and the dark are easier to capture in that media than very detailed books. The Harry Potter films are my comfort film marathon. It is the series I take to, when the world outside my door gets too nasty and I want to escape to a world that clearly shows who is good and who is bad. The Lionheart Brothers was made into a film too, but it was way before the time of CGI so even if the story has stood the test of time and the actors includes the cream of Swedish talent, the film hasn’t aged so well.

 
Sadly, as a big Dan Brown fan, his books aren’t easy to translate into moving pictures either. Don’t get me wrong, Ron Howard’s film versions of The Davinci Code and Angels and Daemons are good enough films for a rainy Sunday afternoon, but they can’t live up to the books on any level. Inferno, I didn’t like at all as a film, but then “Inferno” was the only one of Dan Brown’s books I couldn’t get in to.

 
So, when it comes to books and films I like good versus bad; detailed stories and they also have to give me a feeling of comfort. Does this pattern follow through in my favourite songs? Yes, it does! A few all-time favourites spring to mind immediately, The Eagles’ “Waiting in the Weeds”, Kenny Rodger’s version of “The Gambler”, and Confederate Railroad’s “If you leave that way you can never come back

 
All these three let your mind form your own place of comfort in the first two lines and they do it so well that you feel it is totally safe to lean back and prepare for a good story.
“Waiting in the weeds” starts with the lines;

 

“It’s coming on the end of August,
Another summer’s promise almost gone.”

 
I can so relate to those lines. The darkness is starting to close in again, and I’m sitting here wondering where the summer went. Being able to relate to a song quickly, always makes it a friend for life.

 
In “The Gambler” the first two lines are;

 
“On a warm Summer’s evenin’
On a train bound for nowhere”

 
Again, personally I can so relate. Metaphorically, I did travel on a train to nowhere for quite a chunk of my life, but there is something very comforting with a train journey on a warm summer’s evening. Obviously, the lyrics to The Gambler have other ingredients in it that I adore in things I want to read. The lyrics offer me a wise old man giving advise and then the drama of the same old man dying during the journey. The fact that his last words stays with his travelling companion and narrator of the story from then on, makes it even better. This, because in some way it gives the old gambler eternal life through his words. Being someone that works with words, this really talks to me.

 
In the final example I’m going to give you four lines or the whole first verse of “When you leave that way, you can never come back” It goes like this;

 
“I remember waking in the morning
To the sound of a rooster’s crow.
Mama cooking in the kitchen
And Arthur Godfrey on the radio”

 
Immediately in my mind I can see the dry grass and dusty road outside the window. A net curtain swaying in the wind and red geraniums on the veranda. I can smell bacon and egg and I just sense idyllic country life. That the story then carries me to a life totally destroyed to the point of no return, makes it the perfect story for me, because I’m given my struggle between good and bad.

 
So, as you can see my preferences in what, for me, are perfect song lyrics echoes my preferences in books and films too. Maybe that is another thing to think about if you struggle to find stories for your lyrics. Think about what kind of stories you like to read and go from there.

 
I am determined to write a song lyric around a train journey where I get some great words of wisdom from a person more advanced in years than I am. Up until last week I hadn’t thought of something profound enough to give this character to say, but now I know, so hopefully this goal of mine will soon be fulfilled and leave me with one less thing on my bucket list.

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

 

How to fight negativity

Believe it or not, but I was born with a very positive outlook on life. For a long time, I thought that telling people when something good had happened would make them just as happy. Oh, bless my little cotton socks, how naïve was I? Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, I’m a persistent individual. It took a long time before I started to keep my good news to myself after having had my happy face slapped one time too many.

 
There are very few people that can take good news that doesn’t include themselves and be genuinely happy about someone else’s success. Sad but true. The little green-eyed monster called jealousy lives nearby for most of us.

 
I’ve noticed that sometimes all it takes to annoy someone is to look happy. I don’t even have to open my mouth. If I have a day where I can’t stop my inner happiness shining through my eyes; this can be enough to really frustrate someone. So, how can we fight negativity? Personally, I try to ignore it as much as possible and tell myself it isn’t my problem. A person that can’t stand happiness or be happy for someone else must live a very unhappy life, so the best thing is to leave them to stew in their bitterness and continue on with my own journey.

 
Sometimes this is easier said than done though. For instance, only yesterday I got a very acidic comment about something I’ve written. It was about my lyric writing. I had written about how learning my craft has help me improve my writing this year and the comment from this person said, among other things, that they had never tried to write what others might want to hear. In the end they said that they never have had any kind of success either, but they preferred that than writing to please others. Anyway, the whole thing was said in a way that made it clear that this person felt I had sacrificed my integrity to become successful.

 
For a moment that comment hurt a bit. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I don’t sacrifice my integrity for anything in the world. Yes, I would love to write really successful lyrics, and yes, because of that I have taken various steps to get better. The one thing I wouldn’t do is to write a lyric that doesn’t have anything of my personality in it or that I’m not happy enough to put my signature under as an original lyric from me. In all fairness, if what I’ve been doing this year is to leave my integrity behind to write what I believe to be possible cash cows in rhyme, I’m really not doing a very good job, am I?

 
Any craft out there has got rules. The first thing we’ve got to do in order to get good at something is to learn these rules. It doesn’t’ matter how much talent we have. Without rules we will sooner or later hit a brick wall, where pure talent doesn’t give us the answers needed to get any further. Learning the basics and the theory behind the craft of our choice will help us climb those inevitable walls. They give us a solid foundation to fall back on, and after we become really comfortable among those rules, we can happily start to improvise.

 
If anything, I wish I had taken this truth to heart sooner, instead of spending years shuffling furniture around on a sinking ship, but better late then never. It’s just sad that someone has to take my efforts at getting better as selling out. I have put that hurt behind me now and moved on. Maybe the person writing that comment doesn’t believe in their abilities or are unwilling to put in the effort to improve. Whichever it is, it really isn’t my problem. I will continue my journey, because I know where I’m heading.

 
Sometimes the negativity from an unexpected source is so enormous and takes so much energy that we finally have to cut the ties, so not to drown in the acidic lava constantly floating our way. This happened to me with a close family member that I now haven’t seen or spoken to in five years. If I would have known how peaceful my life would become after that cut, I would have done it much earlier, but when it’s family you tend to hang on much longer than you would for anyone else.

 
Anyhow. I wrote a lyric about my relationship with this person called “I’m a Survivor”. Fredrik Holm composed a big band style melody for it and Tine Sylvest lent her voice to a demo for us. Have a listen if you feel like it.

 
Take care until next time and happy writing!
Åsa

 

I’m a survivor! 
Born the runt of the litter.
Never to be picked.
Heard it far too often,
for the wounds to get licked.
Aimed too high for my talent.
Just moderate at best.
Never had much substance.
To compete with the rest.

Chorus
Suppress me, depress me, as much as you want.
Pardon me, I will continue to reach for the front!
I’m a survivor!
I’m a survivor!
Yeah!
I’m a survivor!
Oh Yeah!
I’m a survivor!
It’s the last key on the chain that mostly opens the door.
I will keep my dreams alive and turn up for so much more!
I’m a survivor!
Yeah!
I’m a survivor!
Oh yeah!
I’m a Survivor!

Chose my own way of living,
just outside the norm.
It woke the green eyed monster,
in those stuck in a form.
Aiming high as a challenge,
all good fun to me.
The stars, a valid option.
Or the top of a tree!

Chorus

©2013 Åsa Sandberg

 

The perfect day

This morning the world welcomed me to another warm and beautiful summer’s day. Since I absolutely adore sunny and warm days, it isn’t a huge leap to feel the urge to put down on paper something lyrical about this glorious season. The only problem is, very many people have had the same thought and done it very well so how on earth do I go about writing a beautiful song about summer in a new way?

When having had lyrics evaluated, I’ve learned that originality and new ways of writing about an old, well known subject is something that gives the lyrics higher rating. Somehow fortunately, this is one area where I tend to do well. I never consciously set out to be different, but somehow my lyrics seem to end up a bit outside the box. Still, I can’t see how I could write a summer song in an original way.

Therefore, I have decided to give myself a challenge through a little exercise I use and while I’m at it I decided to share the process with you. I will write down a very typical four-line verse and then try to rewrite the same verse three times, to see if I can make it appear original in some shape or form.

OK, what do I want to say;

The perfect day
The seagulls woke me at 5 AM.
Not one cloud, could be seen in the sky.
The scent of the lilacs filled the air.
It was hazy, very warm and dry.

Well, I hadn’t prepared this. I am writing “live” so to speak, and I have now changed my mind. I don’t want to change the first verse at this moment in time, instead I will change the exercise and try and write a simple summer song about simple things. Therefore, I will now continue with verse two.

The kettle had boiled, I’d fed the cats,
I took my cup and a book outside.
The sound of the early morning train,
echoed softly down the street and died.

I will wait a while with the chorus and go straight to the next verse. But before I do I need to decide whether to stay in the small timeframe of this perfect morning or make the timeframe bigger to make room for a verse about the afternoon. My only reason for wanting to step into the afternoon is because I have a sentence about ice cream I really would like to finally use, but if I write about ice cream in a time frame only including breakfast, most people will find it strange and that is not the kind of “original” I’m after.
So, I took a five-minute break and while doing so the chorus decided to present itself in my mind. So here is the chorus;

Chorus
It was a perfect day!
Filled with wonders and sensations
of a special kind.
A perfect day!
One where nothing bad could reach me,
it was left behind.
A perfect day!
One to keep inside my memory
and easy to find.
It was a perfect day!

 

Thanks to letting the chorus talk about the day and not only the morning, I can now happily move on to the afternoon.

To cool off I took my dog swimming.
Met some strangers and talked for a while.
Then a friend turned up on the door step.
With fresh strawberries, cream and a smile.

Sometimes you don’t know what works before you try it out. My fancy sentence about ice-cram didn’t work at all, so now I can let that one go. I will give this perfect day an ending in a fourth verse and then we’ll see if it all works.

The warmth of the sun never left us.
The day I never wanted to end.
A cool glass of wine made it perfect.
A good day among pets and a friend.

I think I leave it there for now. I will ponder over the need of a bridge in the lyric at some point. This wasn’t my normal way to write a blog, but I went with the flow and showed you one of my methods when writing song lyrics. I assume it is safe to say it hardly ever goes as planned. I will collect all the pieces now to be able to look at it as a whole.

The perfect day
The seagulls woke me at 5 AM.
Not one cloud, could be seen in the sky.
The scent of the lilacs filled the air.
It was hazy, very warm and dry.

The kettle had boiled, I’d fed the cats,
I took my cup and a book outside.
The sound of the early morning train,
echoed softly down the street and died.

Chorus
It was a perfect day!
Filled with wonders and sensations
of a special kind.
A perfect day!
One where nothing bad could reach me,
it was left behind.
A perfect day!
One to keep inside my memory
and easy to find.
It was a perfect day!

To cool off I took my dog swimming.
Met some strangers and talked for a while.
Then a friend turned up on the door step.
With fresh strawberries, cream and a smile.

The warmth of the sun never left us.
The day I never wanted to end.
A cool glass of wine made it perfect.
A good day among pets and a friend.

Chorus
©2018 Åsa Sandberg

Well, the end result may not be original in any shape or form, but it was a good writing exercise on a day that has been the most beautiful day of the year so far.

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

Focus and happiness

Today I’m going to be a little philosophical with a happy under tone. I hope my story can help someone out there. Deep down what I’m writing today, on one level, is all about lyric writing. During 2018 my quality of life has increased with a great number of knots. For a few years I’ve been running around like a headless chicken, trying to find ways to increase my income, but because everything has been forced and not left to develop at its own speed and allowed to flow naturally; the only thing that happened, is that I have become more and more stressed.

 
This year I decided to take a step back and look at my life from a distance. I asked myself, what makes me happy? The first answer was; everything creative. Narrowing it down a bit, writing obviously landed in first place, then came graphic designing and just to throw in a curve ball baking got the bronze medal. (I do run a very small, seasonal home baking business, concentrating on Nordic biscuits and cakes).

 
I then started to figure out what more I can do with my writing outside my song-lyrics, suddenly blogs felt like the obvious choice. I have dabbled in blog writing before, but never with any real focus and determination. I wasn’t even sure whether or not I would be able to give what a blog demands, when starting the two I’m now writing, but something told me it was the right thing to do.

 
Since then I’ve been regularly tapping away on my keyboard and time has absolutely flown by, so it was only the other day, I finally paused and gave myself time to take a look at how my life has changed this year so far. How surprised I was when I saw the answer!

 
My blogs have given me back a desperately needed focus in my life. They have shown me how much I really can squeeze into a day if I work efficiently and work with the things I love and that makes me happy. A part of me is sad that I didn’t realise earlier what a profound part of me writing is, but I assume I wasn’t ready. Writing is my meditation. I go into my centre and write what comes to me. I forget everything around me. The peace I’ve been looking for, for years finally lives inside me. I used to believe only financial freedom could give me that peace and I threw myself into project after project that really wasn’t for me in order to try and gain that freedom. Am I rich now? Yes! Have I fixed my economy? No, not yet. I’m still on a very tight budget. But I’m closer than I’ve ever been. Why? Because I’m doing what I love, and I have found my inner peace.

 
The interesting thing is how many positive things are happening to me, thanks to focusing on doing what I love, and gaining my new found inner peace. The calm inside me has helped me to listen. It has helped me to take in information and support, and it has opened doors I never even knew I wanted to open. I’ve finally listened and therefore got the help I needed to get my lyric writing skills up a level or two. I have taken a diploma in blogging and I’m in the middle of a course in Advanced Social Media Marketing that is going to earn me a QCF level 5 degree here in England, or in the US an Associate’s Degree. The course has four modules and to begin with I had only planned to do the basic level, just to learn more about how to promote my lyric writing through the social media channels. To my utter surprise, I found the subject incredibly interesting, to the point where I am now setting up the social media marketing side for two different companies. Who knew? I also have a diploma in graphic design. Having worked with graphics since the day the possibility was born, I decided it could be a good idea to have it in black and white that I am capable doing so.

 
My days are very full now, but nothing feels like work. Not even my “real” work as a weekend kitchen assistant at a nursing home for people with dementia feels like work, because all the lovely service users make me happy.

 
So, I suppose the summary of what I’ve tried to tell you today, is do what makes you happy. Not many people are able to live on lyric writing alone. I still have a goal to get to a place where I could, but while I am waiting; I have at least changed my life around totally by focusing on things I love doing and doing them to the best of my ability. Through the inner peace this has given me, I am finally starting to reap the rewards. I wish this is, or will be, the reality for all you readers too. And in the very near future.

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa