Songwriting Step I: The Spoken Story

A week ago, I started working on a new song. I decided to try staying close to the Story-to-Song method for this one, which meant that I needed to think of a story.

The songs I have come to love most dearly tend to be those from other people’s stories. Maybe, it is the grass is always greener scenario. Other people’s lives are more interesting than mine. Or perhaps, I am just over the stories of my own life. I mean, I’ve been thinking about some of them for over 30 years.

I have an inkling that the problem lies simply in beginning. It is so easy to put off a creative endeavor. I tell myself that I should wait until I have the significant chunk of time to really get into a new project. In actuality, this is likely a duel between the voice of my inner critic and my creative self. I know this because I feel so much better about myself and the way I have spent my day if I sit down and create something, anything, for as little as five minutes or as much as five hours.

With that in mind, I set myself down one evening last weekend, turned on my dictation software, and spoke a story. Here is that story verbatim:


January 12, 2013

When I was sixteen, I broke up with my boyfriend. We had been dating for 2 1/2 years (for over two years). I had just discovered Ani Difranco, and her songs made me feel liberated like a liberated woman. I decided I didn’t need a boyfriend. I could be independent on my own. My mom told me that I had made the biggest mistake of my life, and then I started to doubt myself. But she was wrong. My boyfriend didn’t define who I was. I defined who I was. I decided who I wanted to be, and I didn’t need a boy to do it for me. Besides, most of the time we were going out he wanted to change things about me to make me different than who I was. And I listened. He told me he hoped that I never got fat because then he might not be attracted to me anymore. So what if I get fat? Then I get fat. I’m still me and I’m still beautiful. Most of the men I have dated have been that way most of my relationships of them that way me doing whatever is needed to keep my man happy and feeling good about himself. But what about me. Now I seem to get left behind. When is it my turn to figure out what I need. Who’s going to help me be me.

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