Lyrics vs. Poems

When I submitted my first song for professional feedback, my mentor said the writing was very good but added that it was more poem than lyric. He gave me some suggestions on how to transition it into a song. I took his advice and Does Everybody Lie? became Everybody Lies.

So when I was writing “poems” during the wee hours of the morning trying to cope with our temporary housing, I noticed that they sometimes seemed more lyric than poem. I turned to my Berklee professor Pat Pattison for his words on the difference between a poem and a lyric. Here’s what he had to say on a Writer’s Digest article.

The middle-of-the-night poem/lyric writing was a valuable exercise because I began to think more like a poet/songwriter. I also think I may have now transitioned from novelist to songwriter – that’s certainly where my heart is. I’m also practicing the keys, working on my music production craft, thinking that perhaps 2018 is the year I go “all in” when it comes to music.



Sound of Silence (#poem)

The Sound of Silence rings through my ears
Still Hooked on a Feeling after so many years
It was all ahead of me, this romance called life
Falling in Love, becoming somebody’s wife

That year was amazing, I sat next to Tom
Singing on stage, dreaming of the Prom
Co-rec nights swimming in the pool
Merrill walking me home from school

Cathi and I wearing red dresses
Selling yearbook ads looking so festive
Flirting with firemen in tennis classes
Running from dates making passes at dances

Boys crashing sleepover nights with friends
Like a scene out of Grease wearing my pink nightgown
Not Sandra Dee, but “Hey, Mrs. Robinson!”
Had a crush on Dustin Hoffman or was it Benjamin?

Those Nights in White Satin I dream of tonight
The music remembers, making everything all right
Like the drum beat of the world heard by August Rush
The Sound of Silence is that Kind of Hush

Like it or Not (#poem)

Secrets and lies kept us apart
The truth did arise that you were deep in my heart
I searched and I searched and alas you were found
But when I revealed myself, you didn’t want me around

I pulled away and wiped my tears
Rejection did not occur to me, wasn’t one of my fears
Was I so stupid to not realize
You couldn’t see the love I had for you as if in disguise?

In that moment, it all became clear
Why I didn’t fit in here, why I didn’t belong there
This feeling has haunted me my whole life through
How can I be me, what should I do?

I prayed and I prayed, “God, where are you?”
I listened and I heard, at last He came through
“I had a purpose when I Created you from that musical lot
You belong with them whether they like it or not”

Novelist & Modern Musician Vs. Nashville

I’ve been struggling for some time about what to make my main priority – writing or music.

When we evacuated to Nashville during Hurricane Irma, I hadn’t been there since I started songwriting and joined Nashville Songwriter’s Association (NSAI) so I was very excited about it. May as well make the most out of a bad situation like a hurricane, right? Maybe I’d get super inspired with my music walking the streets of Nashville. Besides, I’d just submitted a song for feedback. How cool to know my song was somewhere on Music Row.

We had a great time catching up with the sights – beer and music on Broadway, writing song lyrics on napkins, cocktails and music at the Opryland Hotel. Woo hoo! It was such a blast!

Funny thing about returning home – I realized I was never going to write a song that would fit Nashville no matter how much NSAI insists they’re open to all genres of music. And then I got the feedback on my song that was far more Rock, far more Electronic Dance than Country.

I love all kinds of music. But I’m a modern girl – have always been, really. Grew up in SoCal with the latest fads, on the cutting edge of technology working in Silicon Valley for 23 years. And then when I finally decided to pay more attention to music, I enrolled in the Modern Musicianship certificate program at Berklee College of Music and earned several certificates. I’m self-produced. I may doink around with the piano and guitar but my real instrument is my Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) and I absolutely love it!

That is so not Nashville and they let you know it. I may have a lot to learn musically, but Nashville is not the one to teach me.

i thought the trip to Nashville would inspire me to make music my main focus. Instead, the James Patterson Master Class has inspired new passion for writing novels and I’m even excited about the outline.

And so, for now, I have my answer on what to focus on.



Can’t Stop the Music

While we’re living in temporary housing during the house building process, I made a deal with myself that I’d put music on hold and focus on writing my novel-in-progress. That music is too challenging for me right now and writing a novel is therapeutic.

The problem with that is I love music too much, and I find myself sneaking in a few sessions in the studio, playing with some lyrics, piano chords, or some loops on my DAW (digital audio workstation).

One of my music groups asked if we were holding ourselves back because of fear. They were talking about live performances. Of course, I said yes. I’m sticking to working on music in my studio. Not going to do anything live. Not at my age. Not good enough for that.

I don’t know if life is going to challenge me and put me in a position where I have to face that fear, but that plays nicely into the novel I’m working on.

So here, once again, one art feeds the other. As they say in theological circles, it’s not either/or. It’s both/and.


Writing Advocates in Heaven

One of the first songs I wrote in my songwriting class was “Advocates in Heaven.” The idea of the song is about losing those closest to you as life moves on until one day you feel as if you have few, if any, advocates on earth, which could feel devastating until you remember you now have advocates in Heaven.

This morning as I ate my cantaloupe I was reminded of one of those advocates. We called him “Papa” and he was my grandmother’s second husband. They married a week after I was born. In fact, he liked to brag that his car was the first car I ever rode in. At the time, my father was stationed overseas in the Naval AirForce.

I could do no wrong in Papa’s eyes, and I think that influenced my grandmother’s opinion of me, too, and that kept my mother in check. Any mis behavior on her part would have to be hidden or at least escape my grandmother’s eyes.

I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ – we’d start the day off with Papa’s favorite breakfast of cantaloupe and toast, he’d leave for work and later I’d ride shotgun as my grandmother drove all over Southern California delivering bras, make-up, vitamins, and lingerie to her customers. We’d stop for lunch at Sizzler, which was a big deal back then. Most families I knew back then rarely went out to eat unless it was a some burger or taco joint that SoCal is known for.

My grandmother wasn’t much of a cook so dinner was something simple like popcorn and iced tea or tacos or burritos or so me other Southwestern/Mexican food if Papa was in charge. She would go to bed early and Papa and I would stay up late watching Westerns. He’d regale me with scintillating stories of living the life of a cowboy in Arizona and his daughter and my step dad doing their homework together back in high school in the Central Valley (yes, my step dad was once married to his daughter). I was introduced to country music through Papa and I first read “Coal Miner’s Daughter” by borrowing his copy.

Of Irish descent, he was quite the storyteller. He seemed to recall precise conversations from the distant past, although my mother insisted he embellished them, which is probably true. He was just a storyteller. He reminded me of Roger Craig, the manager for the SF Giants when I first moved to the SF Bay Area.

Today I’m missing my Papa and other advocates now in Heaven. You don’t realize their influence and how they kept things in order until they’re no longer with us on here on earth.

Maybe I’ll rewrite the song and weave him into the story.


Time to Retreat

This has been a hellish day and I was already feeling under the weather before I got the email that blindsided me. It reminded me of all that I disliked about publishing and why I walked away from it to pursue music.

So when I gathered the troops by listening to “Stronger,” I was longing to write a song, sing, record, mix, and produce music again. It’s something I can do in my studio that brings immense joy with just me, myself, and I. I mean, how can you look at the mixing board and not want to jump right in – lol! After all, my uncle is a bass player and sound engineer – it definitely runs in the family.

And that microphone – be still my heart. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do – practically everyone on my dad’s side of the family plays something. So off to the studio I go.

I’m working on learning this song on the piano, tuning my vocals, and coming up with my own mix. If I end up with anything halfway presentable, I’ll post it.

I also think I need a break from sharing while we’re in the middle of so much.

If you see a privacy sign on this blog, don’t panic – I just need to close the doors for a bit.

Social Media for Introverts

I saw this posted by @StrongIntrovert on Twitter.

Do you ever go out, and while you’re out, you think, “This is exactly why I don’t go out”?

After working at home for several years, I sometimes miss rubbing shoulders with other people. It sometimes feels lonely working at home with my cats all day. But when I worked onsite, I tried my best to avoid other people. So I think I sometimes need to see people just to remind myself that I enjoy being alone. I’ll have to imagine passing annoying co-workers on my way to my solitary office upstairs to really appreciate the setup I have in my writing and music studio.

Another person on Twitter posted this:

“I get melancholy if I don’t [write]. I need the company of people who don’t exist.” William Trevor

This is the best part of social media for introverts – the quotes and the people who quote them. You feel connected with like-minded people.

The truth is, I do enjoy being around people but on my terms and in low doses. This week I get to work with my publisher’s cover artist. Next I’ll be working with my publisher’s editor. This is what I’ve missed about writing, and I’m very happy to be back. I’ve got 3 or 4 wips started. Plus I still need to pay attention to my music. Exciting times!