Sunday, June 19, 2011

Stumbling Blocks and Stepping Stones

Hey there 4 followers!

This week I've been busy going through a bunch of my old lyrics and sort of culling the good stuff from largely generic and predictable stuff that's in my virtual notebooks. Do you ever do that?

Some of these things were written in some fit of inspiration, only to fade out the more I worked on it; some ideas were way too good for my skill level at the time; some are just fragments with no place to go.

I used to have notebooks full of this stuff: half-written songs, lyric shards, sketches, maybe just a mental picture of a situation I should write about, but I don't have any notebooks anymore. I've switched all the notebook material to Google Docs, so I never lose it.

Anyway, that's sort of been the process this week. Last week, I wrote about mostly a musical dry spell, or rut, but this week's topic is more about writer's block, for lack of a better term.

The Blank Page

There you are: in front of your blank piece of notebook paper, or your blank word-processor document, trying to write something amazing. I think that's probably the first mistake: expecting to write something amazing from the start. Don't be afraid to be terrible.

If you've been writing for a while, you should have a lot of "recyclables" laying around in notebooks and various documents. Here's what I do when I find myself wanting to be creative, but not really knowing where to start: I just randomly click through my title pages and my sketch pages, hoping that something reaches out and grabs me. Sometimes it does, and I get a song finished (or get it further down the road towards "finished"). Sometimes I beat my head against the same brick walls.

I have this specific song I've been working on for YEARS. It's an a idea that centers around Dumbo's magic feather. I've written two versions of a chorus, from two different points of view. I think I've settled on the version I'm going to use, the problem is this: the chorus I've written is one minute and thirty seconds BY ITSELF.  Three choruses would be four and a half minutes long...without any I like the chorus so much that I can't bring myself to destroy in order to make it a reasonably listenable duration.

When I find myself staring at a blank document and having no good ideas worth committing to virtual paper (and also not following my own rule and being deathly afraid to be terrible), I revisit this song and see if I can make it work.

When I get tired of beating my head against that particular wall, I've been looking through the other half-finished songs I have in process at the moment and trying to work them a little further down the road to completion. Sometimes, though, this kind of interesting thing happens: I'll work on a piece of a song, a chorus perhaps, and I'll vaguely remember that I have a verse that may work with it hidden in the stacks of half-finished remnants locked away in the vault of misfit songs...and I'll put them together and in a sort of William S. Burroughs "cut-up" way. I've gotten really cool things to happen after some minor tweaking.

So I guess that's the point of this repetitive yet rambling missive: write a lot and keep EVERYTHING because you never know when a little fragment of a half-forgotten song can help you through a song you've been stumbling over for years.

Stumbling blocks into stepping stones.

This week:

It's been a whole year! Thanks Howard!  O_o

Weird. I had a Guy Clark dream last night. What does that mean?

I have also been recording the instrumental I mentioned last week and going through the drums and bass on "Till You Come Home."


The Bridge

The Band

Reading Some alternative history....yeah...Harry Turtledove...interesting.

Happy Father's Day Dad! I hope all is well!

Please go to and download her latest CD, "A Brief Moment In Time." I produced, mixed, arranged, and played all the instruments on it! If you'd rather have a physical CD, contact her at: I think you'll agree that her songs and her vocals are awesome!

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