Responses to Composing Confusion

A month ago, I posed some questions for which I wanted answers. I was feeling stuck with a couple of new pieces; no matter what I tried, every musical idea did not seem to fit. “Fit” being highly subjective and as yet undefined.

I posted my questions here, on Facebook and sent out an email to my fan list. Here are some of the interesting, enlightening, and humourous comments that readers offered.

One of the most direct responses was from Paul,

What’s easy in your creative process?

Improvising/riffing – both in writing humor and playing the guitar or synth – with no thinking involved whatsover.

What’s hard for you?

Getting off the damn starter blocks and then maintaining momentum. A.K.A. “Writer’s Block”.

How do you decide that a work is complete?
I say – that’s enough, I’m done.

“Yes, I recognise the feeling: this needs something more – but where do I find it?
Usualy for me in the writingprocess this is a matter of time.
I try, I wrestle some words, they win, I insist on a made up construction that feels fake anyway.
Very often when I leave it to that, admitting that no, for the moment I cannot find a better solution, the solution itself will come from it’s hidingplace and find me.

During the day after working the text, or in my dream it may pop up and giggle until I’ve captured it in words.
While writing down this solution I’m very much aware of the fact that it’s so much better then the one I invented.
This one feels organic. Natural. No force.

The hard part for me is to sit back and admit I just need to pay attention and be aware, for the right words to flow in. Once I do that, it will happen. Creation. Not mine. But being the messenger of creation is well, good enough for me. It’s done when the text feels good enough to stand on it’s own feet.
Even though, as it’s mom, I’ll never stop checking if it’s doing ok, needs changing or can really cope.”

— Yoeke

I’ve found that working in detail with a couple pieces really helps uncover what areas of a songwriter are underdeveloped.
— Michael Smolens

From my dear friend, Linda:

What’s easy in your creative process?

Oh, the ideas! They come and go. I think I’ll remember, but never do. Most are lost forever.

What’s hard for you?

Always the beginning, and the starting. The beginning because it ruminates, loudly, in my head until a semblance of an uber idea has formed. The starting, because now there’s a commitment to that idea.

How do you decide that a work is complete?

For me it’s a feeling, a knowing but I think you know it. You mentioned that it wasn’t quite “right.” So, by saying that, you will know when it is right. So when you ask yourself whether or not you’re making this process a lot harder than it has to be, I would answer: “No. That’s about right.” It’s the sub-concious mind that ultimately gives the seal of approval not the conscious part and, sadly, we have no control over that!

One of the more entertaining answers from Ann in London,

“Once I wrote a book in a few hours…just for fun…
Then a ex contacted me after 20 years plus…I went to visit and he said he had just published a book…I sent my book to his publishers…very small…and they offered to publish it…I thought hum maybe I should send it to another bigger publisher…so far I have not…when I do even if it is rejected I have done my task.”

Thank you every one for your thoughtful replies. That was fun!

And, as these things tend to work for me, I was pretty frustrated when I posed my questions. A few days later, the obvious answer slipped into my pocket while I was doing something else: as always, simplicity is one of the keys.

best to you all as we wind our way towards one of the two balanced points of our solar year, when daylight and night time are just about equal lengths.

Daily miracles abound if I can just remember to spot them going by


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