The word that keeps swirling in my head following this last session is…..disappointment.
I missed Judy and Joanne. It was nice to have Melissa back. I wished Wendy had played something. We needed more female voices. Or at least I did.
The songs played, in my opinion, were all pretty damn good. All were varied, both lyrically and melodically. None bored me. I didn’t have a favorite; I truly liked them all. Many seemed “complete” to me, needing only minor tweaking.
My disappointment came with the critique.
In my writers’ group we struggle at times with whether or not we are writing for ourselves or writing for the group. We fear the times we find ourselves writing for the group. The question came up at the songwriters group once in the past: do you write a song for your audience or for yourself? I’m wondering if some members of the group may not be stalled in some ways because they are writing now with the imagined critique of the group sitting on their shoulder whispering in their ear?
In my most humble of opinions, something becomes lost when a writer begins picking words based on what they expect another’s reaction to be….and the end result is never as honest, rarely as good. If we stop writing what we know, what lives in our hearts, and only write what we think someone else wants to hear, the loss is too great to measure. Some of that is showing in the group, as well as a tad of frustration. I’d like to see the critique return to more of the suggestions such as “Would you consider using “twisted in the wind” here instead of “dangling by a thread” rather than blanket statements that it needs to be rewritten in the third person or if it’s worked on some more, it will be better. Sometimes as writers we need that communal nudge to get us going and it’s often just the right word from someone else that takes us there, not the generalized “it needs work” directive.
And at the end of the night, I hope the talented folks that attend these sessions leave remembering that the songs they bring to share are still THEIR songs, no matter what. That alone makes them worthy. I’ve yet to have heard one that has made me cringe, none that I would never want to hear again. I always enjoy listening to every one of them. I am always in awe of the creativity in the room. My hope is it continues.