Sunday, November 30, 2014

It's Over

Not my writing, or any such thing. My songwriting class ends today, and I won't be taking that particular one again, though I'll be reviewing the materials for some time to come.

Also coming to an end is the Thanksgiving break, which wasn't much of a break in our house; we lost power for 68 hours and ended up having our Thanksgiving feast in a timeshare. It wasn't all that bad, though; my lovely wife made us a delicious meal in the tiny kitchenette, and the room was nice and warm.

But not a lot got done on the creative front, and so I'm looking forward to sending kids back to school so I can get back to work.

Although I have some stories in progress, songwriting will be my main focus for the next few weeks. I have three partial songs and a new idea I'm dying to get to work on. If I'm diligent, you'll be able to hear  the results very soon.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Holiday Break

Taking time away from writing for a few days to get ready for family travel over the holiday weekend. I need to concentrate on packing, preparing entertainment for kids for the long car ride, and preparing whatever food we're bringing along with us.

I won't really be taking a break from writing, of course. I may not be sitting down at the keyboard for my usual writing sessions every day, but so much writing goes on in my head that it's never accurate to say I've stopped writing. An idea for a scene here, a line for a song there—they just pop up without warning while I'm doing something else entirely.

Those are the times when I really appreciate modern technology. Instead of writing these ideas down on scraps of paper that I will inevitably lose, I can whip out my phone and put them in Evernote, where they are available to me later from my computer, tablet, or phone.

This is how I keep notes for new song ideas, too, and the list is growing longer every week. I have ideas than I will ever develop into finished songs, which is how it should be. I never have the excuse that I don't have any ideas.

Choosing among them, however, is another matter entirely.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Moving Ahead

I know I’m not really finished with The Kids Are Gone, but I’m not going to try to finish it now, expect for some minor phrasing changes in the recording, part of the assignment for the last week of my songwriting class. But I’m too close to the song now, and I like it the way it is. I know it needs some extra lines in the bridge, some rearranging, and some work on the chords, but it’s my baby right now, and I need to get some distance.

Meanwhile, I think I created a good start in She Works So Hard, and that’s running around in my head now, so I think I’ll try working on that one. Not to say that some idea may not slip in for The Kids Are Gone, or one of the other two songs I started working on, though. Sometimes it just happens.

Usually while I’m either driving or sleeping.

I haven’t abandoned my other writing, either. I’m working on a short story and a book. On the other hand, I’m not working on any movies right now, but maybe when the winter routine sets in and I’m pretty much trapped in the house except when I go out to shovel snow, I might be able to make substantial headway on movie projects.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Another Song, Sort Of

I just finished the lyrics of When the Kids Are Gone, enough to submit for class. I’ll record it tomorrow, and post it, and link to it here in the blog. But I don’t consider it finished. Not yet. Although I’m satisfied with the verses and the chorus, the heart of the song is the bridge, and I want to put a lot more into that bridge before I call it finished.

But deadlines loom, and there are many other things on my plate for tomorrow, so the song will be submitted in its present state.

But I’ll let you know when I think it’s really finished.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


I love it when a song speaks to me. When the Kids Are Gone is so relevant to my life right now, even though I still have about seven years to go before I’m an empty-nester, and my eldest is a boomerang kid, there’s something about the topic that hits me where I live.

Most of the time when I write, I lay the entire song out in prose, with approximately one line of prose eventually corresponding to one song line. Then I get out my thesaurus and my rhyming dictionary to convert those thoughts into, I hope, good lyrics. I don’t always have the tune set before I start, but there is at least a beat, and of course once the line lengths are established for the first verse (or, at least, the first one I write, which isn’t always the first one in the song), that gives me the pattern for the second verse.

That’s where I am now, except that for this song, the chorus came to me in a matter of minutes while I was driving into town to do my laundry (our washing machine is broken). Tune and all. It happens sometimes, and it’s usually a good sign.

So now on the the verses. Something sweet and sentimental. Something to bring a tear to my eye.

Maybe. Or maybe this song means something else. We’ll see.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Changing Horses

Last time I posted, I was trying to decide between to song ideas that I'd already partially written to submit as the final song for my class. Well, it turns out that I'm supposed to be writing a new song from scratch. I guess I should have remembered that from before.

Just before I figured this out, I was in the library looking over news magazine, mostly with cover stories about the big win the Republicans pulled off in the mid-term elections. This was juxtaposed with a news story I'd just heard on the radio concerning 19 races in New Hampshire that were up for recount because they were decided by less than 1% of the vote. Some mandate.

And the title came to me: "The Pendulum Swings." And I was going to write that song for the class.

But, unfortunately, the deadline is very short, less than a week from now, and that song is going to take a lot of metaphor juggling to make it work. So, with three songs in development, I am adding a fourth title, "When the Kids Are Gone," which I had no more than a title in my notes for until now. But I know where I'm going with this one, and I think I can get it done in time.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Decisions, Decisions

Just finished up my assignment for Week 4 of the songwriting class that I’m taking for the third time from Coursera. I’ve written the beginnings of two songs, and now I have to decide which song I’m going to develop into my final project. I like them both, and each one has strengths. I think, with less than two weeks before I have to submit the first version of the song, that it will come down to which of the two will be easiest to develop.

If you are curious about them, they are the two most recent uploads on my SoundCloud account. Whichever I choose, the verse and chorus I already created as an assignment will probably undergo some adjustment before it becomes a song.

I haven’t done much else, and I’m starting another course completely unrelated to my work tomorrow, but I am trying to get some traction and produce more work. I have plenty lined up, but lots of personal Winter-prep stuff to do around the house. Maybe when I finally get the chance to hibernate, the stories will start to flow again.

Meanwhile, I am working on a new version of my Web site, which I expect will be up and running before the end of the year.