Steeping the Tea of Writing

The following is an article I wrote for Oikeo Music’s Spring issue of  “Christian Songwriter’s” Magazine.  To download a free PDF version of the magazine, visit www.oikeomusic.com  I hope you enjoy!!

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The tide is coming in as I sit on a large boulder not far from the water-line of the Kachemak Bay. The sky is a beautiful clear blue and the temperature is holding just above freezing. For now my fingers work and the ink in my pen is still a liquid…but I don’t know how much longer. This is my writing studio today.

I take in the view of the snow-capped mountains, and gentle surf, wipe my now dripping nose, and take mental pictures of the the landscape in front of me while my heart begins weaving stories.

Today I process the pain of a friendship, while I am praying for the courage to venture again. Scriptures are coming to mind about God who binds up the broken-hearted. 1Corinthians 13 flashes in my mind as well, with the emphasis being on the fact that “love always believes the best in people.” (v. 7) I talk to God about my fears and my pain.

I pause to throw the ball for my dog who faithfully retrieves it every time, although surrenders it reluctantly.

All of these things at once become threads in the weave of my heart and become the backdrop for my writing, and the metaphors of my story. Friendship, loyalty, beauty, wonder, and God’s Word are the constants. The tide that changes and the temperature that fluxes become the variables that give the story pattern and detail.

A mentor of mine, Billy Simon, gave me some advice years ago when I began songwriting that I still carry with me today. He said:

“The main thing is to be calm in your gift and know that no matter who hears what you create… that your gift matters and is pleasing to the one who gave it to you. No need to be overly anxious. Love life first then add some commentary. We song writers are not necessary in the whole scope. Only our message is. Sometimes our gift can be so exciting to us that we give it too much attention and time. Step out of your “write, write, write” stage and just write. Trees are vital for life on Earth. They’re beautiful and it’s nice to have some in your yard. But if you plant one everywhere you think one can grow, soon you will have nowhere to play kickball. Have peace that you are where God want s you to be, to affect the people He wants you to affect.”

As a songwriter, it is not imperative that I write everything that comes to my head. Some of my best writing has come after musing on things I have experienced, or, like tea, let the ideas steep for awhile until the story feels done. Taking life in and feeling it on every level possible, to me, seem to be the greatest tools of my writing. Not being afraid to feel, to hurt, to be cold, to be hungry, to be interrupted, and to be in solitude, give me opportunities to experience life in a new ways and then express them.
So I process my heart while I steep my ideas. I think about how friendship is always worth the risk of pain, because it warms the heart when the days are cold. I feel the cold air beginning to stiffen and sting my fingers. I wipe my running nose again. I shake my pen to get the ink flowing again, and I exhale with the contentment that when I wait patiently, God speaks to my heart and gives me a reason to write. That same God will also give me a platform to allow my musings to be heard when the timing is right.

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