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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Radio Interview

A few weeks ago I was invited by Chris Story to his radio program “Alaska Adventure Radio” to talk about my new album “Red Sky“.  It was a fun interview that I enjoyed immensely with a very entertaining host!

I live in Homer, Alaska so this program showcases the local flare.

Blessings to you!!

Cate

Chuck Skeek

A few weeks from now, my album “Red Sky” will be completed and available for sale as a cd and digital download.  While this album is a collection of songs I have written over the past few years as well as a bonus song from my dear friend Paul Wainamo, the album just  isn’t complete without art.

Because many of you will digitally download the music from iTunes, or Amazon, I want to take a few moments in this blog to highlight the photography of my friend Chuck Skeek whose pictures became the artwork for the cd cover.

Chuck Skeek is a friend of our family whom my husband met  herring fishing in Sitka, Alaska several years ago.  Chuck comes from a family of commercial fishing and spends his summers doing the same, but when the fishing season is over, Chuck packs up his cameras and lenses and spends his days travelling the world photographing what he sees.

My husband, Jamin, and Chuck travelled to Peru together last year to help build a church in a jungle village, and after that climbed Machu Pichu.  Some of my favorite photos are found in that collection of pictures and hang on our wall here in Alaska.

Speaking of Alaska, the photographs used for my album are pictures from Alaska.  When I saw these photos, I just felt they helped express what I wanted to say in the songs.

I love Chuck’s photography.  Something about his perspectives always make me want to pack my bags and go where he has been and see what he has photographed.  He has an ability to almost make me “feel” the photo, and there is always an element of peacefulness about them.

Beyond his talents, Chuck is a dear friend whose sense of humor and laid back style make him a delight to be around.  I love his sense of adventure and his generous spirit.

So without further ado, here are some of his photos that are my favorites!

If you are interested in any of his photographs, you can email him at cnskeek@hotmail.com.

Red Sky
High Tide

Machu Pichu
Cuzco, Peru
River boat ride to Cantamana, Peru from Picalpa

Children in the Philippines