I'm not a Lyricist
“Oh, you are soooo creative! You can do everything!”
Yes, that’s what it may look like from a distance, but being creative takes place on multiple planes. So you can have more of one than the other.
For example, I never run out of ideas, quite the contrary. Sometimes I wish I had less of that. Every time my mind overflows, I always think of the English writer Terry Pratchett. He writes books about a special world: a flat, round disc, standing on four elephants carried by a giant turtle, which swims in space.
There! Speaking of fantasy!
A quote from “Wyrd Sisters” by this author (forgive me if the translation isn’t exactly like in the book; This has been retranslated from the Dutch):
“Pure inspiration particles hail continuously through the universe. Every now and then one hits a receptive mind, who then invents the DNA or the style of the flute sonata or a way to make lightbulbs wear out twice as fast.
But most are missed. Most people go through life without ever getting hit by one. Some folks are even less fortunate.
They’re getting them all!“
And that’s how I often feel, as if I’m a magnet for pure inspiration particles.
However, there is one discipline that I really have to put a lot of effort into, and that is writing lyrics. The music takes shape, the melody is clear and then…. then that melody starts playing day and night in my head and I try to find the words that fit it. I also have a rewritable notebook (made of stone!) that I always keep open on the couch, so that I can quickly jot down something if I think I’ve found something. Often it is then crossed out again (not errased, you never know!) and possibly replaced by something else.
It also happens that I think I’ve come up with something and that it doesn’t fit into the metre of the music at all. A syllable too much or too short, it doesn’t rhyme as well as I thought it would or it just doesn’t make any sense.
I envy the people of the Dutch TV program “Even tot hier” who write very topical and humorous lyrics to existing music in a short time (less than a week). Maybe an entire team of writers can achieve success faster while brainstorming, but still: Writing lyrics is really a skill, a craft.
The music for “Dandelions” has two solos with lyrics. It took me more than four months to get the text right. It was only a month before the release date that I could really start practicing singing, which was also not easy: I hadn’t sung for two years! But that’s an entirely different story.
I work with what I have and “artistic license” is a great asset. Of course I know that “sky” doesn’t rhyme with “dandelion”, but I thought the y-sound rhymed enough. I think I will often take advantage of this kind of freedom.
Now that Dandelions is ready, I can start over with a new piece of the New World. The pages have been wiped clean and the blank pages stare at me, begging to be filled with new lines. I already have a melody, it’s singing around in my head again (to the point of getting obnoxious sometimes), but the words don’t want to come yet.