Motivating the Muse

Having no formal songwriting criteria or method, I’m still surprised I have as many coherent(or semi-coherent) pieces of music as I do today. There really aren’t any schools for this discipline.  I’ve managed to insert myself into a couple of really amazing songwriting communities.  But they don’t have syllabi.

So, how is it that I have the modest library of material that I do?

There are songs that I have retired (or at least temporarily so).  There are songs that I still play from years ago.  There are the freshly finished song that I still hum in my head at work.

Then there are the half songs, poems, one-liners and curious words scattered about in journals and folders all over my car, apartment, closet…etc.  There are even some snippets of sound bites recorded in my cell phone.  I know they’re in there, I just have to find them.

Where did they all come from?

I have thoughts all the time of random (even crazy) things.  What is the difference between being inspired enough to write something down and careless enough to let it dissipate into the ether?

I remember waking up at all odd hours of the night, jumping out of bed to find a paper and pen and then not being able to get back to sleep because I’m so buzzed about my sudden discovery.

Now, I wake up roll over lazily to the pen and journal stacked on my window sill and scribble whatever woke me up down without even turning on the lamp.  Pass out.

My muse is definitely sleeping.  I most certainly have to poke her with a stick to get her to pay attention. In fact, sometimes it’s as though our roles are reversed.

Does that sound odd?  It certainly feels odd.

It’s like we’re WELL past our honeymoon phase and on to the “dishes, Dear” portion of our time together.  I remember writing furiously when I first started.  It was like everything I experienced was slipping into my pen in some form of written inspiration.

Lately I’ve been going to see performances of every type to try to get her to pay attention.  Good friends who are also musicians are always great for the creative juju.  Seeing people I very strongly admire (Brandi Carlile, Ani DiFranco, etc.) give me something to strive for.  A “mark” if you will.

Sometimes she perks up.  We share a smile and write something down (like old times).

Travel does wonders. I often come back from a short trip and play my guitar until I pass out.

Imagine how much we could accomplish with an extended vacation?!

I guess I can’t blame her really.

I have a fairly stimulating day job.  She doesn’t.

I believe we still have something special and I have no plans to quit anytime soon.

I’ll keep working on the little things that seem to make her happy.

Cause when she’s happy, my whole world sings.

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