Thursday, April 11, 2013

fear of writing

Had an interesting Twitter post come through this morning, and it started me to thinking... I was thinking WAY more than I could reply in 140 characters, thus this post...

First, the tweet -

@kevinmontgomery RT @undertheneonsky: Its not the fear of writing that blocks people, its fear of not writing well; something quite different. Scott...

My first thought was to say that I agree with this, but only to a certain point, which of coursed caused me to look deeper inside myself and figure out if *I* have a fear of writing. I don't.

Let me take you back to December of 2011. Vanessa and I were headed to Nashville for a few days of relaxation. I had only been songwriting a few months and only had a very few songs under my belt, but felt like I 'had the gift.' Through another Twitter post we found out that Don Schlitz had some seats open for Bluebird that very night. First, I must admit that I didn't know the name, but a quick Google made us say "WOW" and we bought a couple of seats online RIGHT THEN.

In case you don't know, his biggest claim to fame is writing the Grammy winning song The Gambler, made famous by recent Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Kenny Rogers. That's impressive, no doubt, but when I looked at some of the other songs he had written (or at least co-written) we were both VERY excited to be going! Two in particular - On The Other Hand (a staple of mine over the years, which has a specific point in time that that song takes me back to) and When You Say Nothing at All.

So we get to the Bluebird early and we take our seats and this guy takes the stage. The first song he performs? I Heard it All (On My Radio). I don't know that it was a tremendous hit, but it was a song I knew well and could remember listening to at night while lying in bed (very much like the protagonist of the song did). He went on to do a ton of other songs, of course, and he talked about writing and performing at the Bluebird, etc. A top rate show, to be sure!

But to point I'm trying to make is that he did NOT just do "the hits." He did a good cross section of songs he'd written that you have heard on the radio and several songs that were recent compositions. He told humorous stories as he went and when he did I Feel Lucky he really made people laugh. Again, a great show.

So, do I have a fear of writing? Not at all. Do I have a fear of not writing well? I don't think so. I got to meet Don after the show that night and I intentionally made sure I was LAST in line for an autograph so I could hopefully get to talk to him for a couple of minutes. Well we did, and he was VERY open to talking and giving me "tips" and "pointers" on writing and I've not forgotten anything he's said. One particular question I had for him was (paraphrased here) "should I be writing as much as I can or just write what is going to be the best?" And though he didn't give me a "yes or no" answer, he gave me a great answer nonetheless - "write what YOU want to hear - don't try to write for what you think the radio wants or the publishers want - write what YOU would listen to."

So really the only person I MUST please is myself. Sure I'd love for an artist to want to cut my songs, and sure I'd cash the royalty checks if one or more were to become a hit, but my purpose is NOT to "write a hit song," my purpose is to write, then write some more, then write some more. As long as *I* am pleased with the results that's all that matters in the long run.

Now let me clarify something... I'm a singer-songwriter and I carry my own tunes out to the world (and am working on a homemade CD as well) and I want people to enjoy them, but not every song I write is going to be enjoyed by everyone. I love listening to live acoustic music and I'll admit I don't "care for" every song I hear, but I see other audience members having a response and I realize that beauty really is in the eye (ear) of the beholder.

So if you're reading this because YOU have a fear of writing (or writing well), then I say go for it! Put pen to paper (or type words on a screen, like I do) and create something! Satisfy yourself first and it will ALL be worth it!

Here's my autographed Hatch from that night. It hangs just feet from my desk at work. :-)

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