In with the new

Since last week’s blog there has been some new, even more disturbing discoveries about the competition that has turned out to be nothing but a scam, but I won’t spend anymore time pondering over that. I’ll just wish that good, old “Mr. Karma” catches up with the individual in charge of the scam, sooner rather than later.

 
From now on I will concentrate on the new instead. A very nice and somewhat unexpected thing happened a couple of weeks back, when a song I wrote together with Fredrik Holm (www.2b-intune.com) a few of years ago won an “Honorable mention +” in SongDoor’s yearly competition. The plus stands for “deserving special recognition”. The SongDoor competition receives tens of thousands of entries from all over the world and the Country category, in which our song was entered, is one of the largest. Five finalists were chosen, one entry got an honorable mention ++ which means that the song was seriously considered for the final. Then there was one other entry ahead of us, but to land in eight place in such a big category is something I feel very proud about. Specially since this competition is the real deal. To enter their competition is very economical and they are very clear about what you can win, and you actually get the prizes and a fair amount of exposure to the media and the music industry.

 
It is the same company that I send my lyrics to for evaluation and they have always done everything they can to help me develop. They have sent me things I haven’t even asked for and they are always so happy to help me with any questions I might have. The response is always instant as long as my question arrives during working hours in their time zone.

 
The last couple of days I’ve been fiddling with something new to help my lyrics to get noticed. Well, new is a big lie. I was working with video a very long time before I ever wrote one single song lyric, but this side of my working life has been dormant for many years now. It has just been sitting there waiting for the right time and a reason to come alive again. Getting this honorable mention gave me the push to do something more with our song and since I want to help my lyrics along in any way I can, a lyric video felt like a good option. I have to say I really enjoyed being back at the editing table. Writing will always be my first love but editing and creating film is a very close second. Therefore, it is an amazing feeling when these days you can produce good quality products without being a millionaire. Especially since my videos, (yes, I’m planning to do many more) focus on the lyrics, so I can do them on a shoestring budget. The one I’m going to show you today didn’t cost me anything but my time to produce.

 
Working with video again has also reminded me about the fact that no knowledge and nothing we learn to do is ever wasted. If we are so interested in something that we take time to learn all we can about the subject, there is always a reason why we want that knowledge. It may not be obvious immediately and, I have asked myself many times why I keep training and learning stuff when nothing seems to come of it in a useful way. Getting back to editing a video this week, realizing that the knowledge is still there and that the love for the craft is still there too, has been absolutely wonderful. Especially since I now have a useful reason to dust off that knowledge and use it in a practical way again.

 
Before I go, I also want to mention that the Grand Award winner of SongDoor 2018 was Simon Finn, with whom I wrote the song “Before” a couple of years back. Simon is a very deserving winner and if you haven’t listened to his music yet, please do so on https://soundcloud.com/simonfinnsongwriter
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

 

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Collaborations

Today, I’m going to talk about patience, putting in the hours and how, if we do so, we sooner or later get the help we need. I’ve told you before that it can be difficult to measure progress as a lyric writer. Therefore, I try to take part in as many competitions I can find and can afford to send in my lyrics to. Having done this for a few years now, I’ve built up some connections with other musicians and writers. Even if I haven’t been a finalist or winner anywhere yet, I have had some success, and this is useful when looking for collaborators.

 
There have been times when I have doubted if I will ever find any more collaborators out there, but then suddenly, I have got three new projects on the go with as many new people. Two lyrics of mine are out there in the hands of two very talented musicians and the third project is one where I have been asked to write lyrics to a song that is being composed as we speak.

 
This obviously is a very nice situation to be in, because a lyric without a melody is like having a TV in a house without electricity. It is a nice thing to have, but not much point with having it in the long run. What I have realised after a few years of writing song lyrics is that everything takes time. I don’t think it is only people you have to convince you are here for the long run and are serious about your writing you have to put in hours of work for a long enough time to also let the Universe pick up on your pulse. If you write regularly and with a purpose for long enough, the Universe will hear this steady pulse of yours and feel that this is something you are serious about. Then, when the Universe senses your presence and commitment to your purpose, it will do everything in its power to give you what you need for your next step.

 
This is something I knew but had forgotten and because I had forgotten, I have been quite impatient at times. Especially last year when I almost gave up writing, only to realise this was something I could never do. Writing is my life, so instead of quitting I decided to get better and put in the hours and show commitment. Somehow this seems to have started to pay off, because I seem to be in a process where I am given what I need to get to that next, alluring step.

 
The absolute best thing with collaborating is to see what someone else’s creativity can do with my lyrics. I hope I never get blasé about how wonderful it is to hear a new song written around my words, for the first time, Normally the melody is totally different than I had imagined in my head, but usually it is always so much better than anything I could have imagined. It shows how differently everybody interprets words or how every person’s unique life experience puts different meanings to the words. It is a wonderfully fascinating feeling.

 
So, there will hopefully be some exciting times ahead, this autumn. Three new songs on their way and still around two months to wait for the results of my entries into UK songwriting contest. Life could definitely be worse.

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

Finally, the best evaluation ever!

You know those times when you want to stop yourself, because you don’t want to become disappointed yet again, but still you can’t help thinking that you are on to something good?

 
Well, this was me with my latest lyrics. Deep down inside I knew that all I had learned so far this year came together in these lyrics. Everything I have been able to figure out by learning to listen and act on advice from people that know what they are talking about, plus forcing myself to write, write and then write some more. Also at times when there hasn’t been one ounce of inspiration anywhere near me, all of a sudden made the pieces fall into place and FINALLY I took a big step forward on my personal lyric writing journey.

 
To find out if what my instinct was telling me was right, I sent the lyrics for evaluation to a company called SongDoor. I’ve used them many times before and trust them to be harsh but fair. So far when I’ve used them, I’ve had one good evaluation back, a couple of okay ones, and quite a few where my work has been seriously trashed. To suddenly get an excellent evaluation back felt better than any words could describe. This is the summary I was given as part of their evaluation;
“We heard “Broadway” or “West End” all over these lyrics. We could all imagine some woman alone on a stage, in the spotlight, just singing her heart out, like in “Waitress” or something similar. Great imagery and a delightful cadence to the lyrics. Not a lot to criticize here, very well done. We’d love to hear the accompanying music. These are well-written words with serious commercial potential.”

 
Obviously, it all has to be put into perspective. In the end it’s only one single evaluation, but after working hard and trying my best for a very long time without feeling I’m getting anywhere, I’m going to enjoy this for a while. The same lyrics have now been sent to three different competitions, and in a couple of months it will be sent to a fourth one. I do hope this is the lyric that will unite the judges on both side of the Atlantic. Sooner or later, if I manage to write a good enough lyric, I should be able to get positive feedback from both America and the UK. I will have to wait and see if it could possibly be this one.

 
For those of you that missed the blog post where I shared the lyrics in question, I will give you a second chance. The lyrics are called “Got to let this woman be strong” and according to the evaluators at SongDoor; “the girl finally did good!”

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

 

Got to let this woman be strong

You’ve been moving
in my circles for a while.
Oh yes, I’ve noticed,
you’ve got a certain style.

You’ve been asking
all about me; yes, I’ve heard.
You want to know me?
This complicated bird?

Chorus
You can buy me a coffee.
You can cook me a meal.
You can sing me a song
that tells me how you feel.
But this girl’s been to hell and back.
The journey made me strong.
If you can’t cope with that,
then we won’t last long.
You’ve got to let this woman be strong!

Bridge
You got to be secure enough
to love the strength in me.
If you’re the controlling kind,
we’ll never share a key.

Chorus
You can buy me a coffee.
You can cook me a meal.
You can sing me a song
that tells me how you feel.
But this girl’s been to hell and back.
The journey made me strong.
If you can’t cope with that,
then we won’t last long.
You’ve got to let this woman be strong!

I’m no pick-nick,
there are calmer ways to live.
But if you’re certain,
this girl got lots to give.

Chorus
You can buy me a coffee
You can cook me a meal.
You can sing me a song
that tells me how you feel.
But this girl’s been to hell and back.
The journey made me strong.
If you can’t cope with that,
then we won’t last long.
You’ve got to let this woman be strong!
©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