When I eventually market the audiobook that tells my story, I’ll need to write a synopsis. Here are some examples of what I could write:
1. A sad, middle-aged woman begins to play her guitar again. She decides to go off and sing, leaving her husband behind.
2. God channels songs to help a sad, middle-aged woman. She transforms into a happy person and leaves her husband to share her music and message with the world.
Hmmm . . . those scenarios aren’t feeling too great for me. It seems that I need more than two sentences.
1. One day, a woman who overcame tragedy in her life decides to express her feelings. She begins to write and sing, and as a result she heals a great deal of her pain and sadness. Every song is a blessing for her – her subconscious speaks to her through her own song lyrics.
The above synopsis could be enough – but then there is more to my story.
One day, a certain song begins to erupt. It expresses feelings she never allowed herself to admit before. Her song gives her clarity, but it takes time for her to find courage. Finally, with great anguish, she ends her lonely marriage because she feels self-worth she never had before. With passion and enthusiasm she embarks upon a new life. She hopes to inspire other people to know that healing is possible and devotes her life to sharing her songs and stories with the world.
When my blog began in 2010, I titled my first post with these words: “Writing and sharing; something new and different.”
At that time, I had no idea where my journey would lead. It was this new approach to life that allowed me to pick up my guitar and play again after three decades.
But as I began to share my life stories on my blog, I was overwhelmed by all the sadness and grief lurking inside my heart. There were so many feelings that I had suppressed for such a long time. At first, it was terrifying to release them. Then I noticed that my heart began to feel lighter and lighter with every feeling that I shared.
During my first year, I bounced between intense joy and intense sadness. The joy came from releasing my sadness while at the same time reliving trauma from my past. It had been so long since I had allowed myself to feel anything. For years, I was numb and dead inside. I simply was grateful that I had survived so many challenges.
But there was a moment when everything changed. It began with a new song that erupted from me.
For the first year of my journey, I was not ready to write new songs about my life. Instead, I was determined to remember all the songs from my youth.
But eventually none were left because I had recorded and/or revised all thirty of them. I also noticed that I wasn’t joyful anymore. My father was ill and my mother’s dementia had progressed to where I lost their involvement in my life. I lived in a bubble with my music, which inspired me to stay positive.
One of my first songs that carried new lyrics, I named “Memory of Love.” With that song, I expressed the anguish of losing my mother to dementia. But it was interesting that within my lyrics there was a dual meaning. I wrote:-
“I’m lonely and I cannot share. I cannot tell you, so instead I just pretend. It’s easier that way than to face the end.”
Even though I wrote this for my mother with dementia, it also applied to my marriage.
With my next song “Set You Free” I wrote:
“I know you can’t stay and soon you’ll be gone. I cry as you leave, but I truly believe – as you leave my sight, we’ll both be all right.”
I wrote this for my father who was dying, but it also applied to my marriage.
My song “The Unknown” was so painful for me that I became physically ill.
I did not want to write it, but felt compelled. I really needed to go through my day to places that healed me, because I was completely guilt-ridden and anxious.
Only a few weeks after composing “The Unknown,” I told my voice teacher, Peaches, that God was helping me release my pain with another new song. My inspirational follow-up song I named “Hang On,” and it definitely soothed my aching soul.
Still, my subconscious wasn’t satisfied. Once again, new lyrics began bursting forth to prod me.
The song that followed “Hang On,” I named “Clear.” If ever there was an obvious message for me, this song held it.
Every time I sang the last line, I cried. That’s because the lyrics for the last chorus of “Clear” went:
“I celebrate, it wasn’t too late. I turned my life around, got up off the ground, happiness I found – there was no reason to wait.”
I cried, because I was waiting.
I was waiting for courage.-
As I waited for courage, lyrics began to emerge for yet another song. I named it “The Door.” The words for that song began to push me closer and closer toward leaving my empty marriage. I could not ignore the feelings anymore with these words:
“When love went away, I just couldn’t stay. It was time; I knew it then – to begin my life again. Somehow, I’d be okay – even though love went away. I knew I was worth more, so I went through that door.”
With my father’s death, I found my courage and went through a door into a new life.
I eventually plan to share my song arrangements for “The Unknown” and “The Door” on this blog. But first, I want to share intimately how my song “The Unknown” led me to end my 31-year marriage.
How was it possible that a song could actually change the direction of my life?
Just as I shared my conversations with Dr. Sam, I share now my passionate discussions of songwriting with a fellow songwriter – Peaches Chrenko. Peaches was one person who always appreciated what I was creating with my music and words. She moved out-of-state just as I was separating from my husband toward the end of 2012.
She was my vocal coach for three years and I’ve missed her songwriting input. But just last week, I spoke with her and we are going to continue working together over the phone. I’m very excited to share with her my newest song compositions.
Below, are audio recordings of my discussions with Peaches while my song “The Unknown” was unfolding. After those discussions, there is a recording of a recent performance of my song at Kulak’s Woodshed in North Hollywood. For people who are too busy to listen to my 5 minute clips, I have transcribed them.
JUDY & PEACHES LESSON #1
Clicking the blue link below plays audio:
J: It’s all true!
P: That’s what’s so special.
J: I leave from here and I have to let the stress go off of me because I go to see both my parents. First my mother, then my father – I can’t see them together because my father doesn’t want to be around my mother. She’s too confused for him. Oh, I’m writing a new song. I brought my guitar! Are you ready?
P: Okay, I am!
Judy plays a guitar intro and then sings: “Somewhere over the rainbow . . .” (Intense laughter)
P: I guess that does sound kind of familiar, now that you mention it!
J: It go to a minor, I know – but when I hear it, I start thinking of that. Maybe I have to change it. I do have a complete first verse of lyrics, but I like doing “la la” for some reason until I get the melody set. I think there are some possibilities.
Now I need a good chorus. I have no idea what the lyrics are. I feel like I’m not ready to write this song; it’s going to happen when it’s ready.
P: Isn’t that something how the more you write, the more you trust the process?
J: Yes. I want a chorus with a different rhythm; I like that feeling. I played around with this for the chorus. (Judy demonstrates some chords).
P: Very nice! I love the rhythm, the way you’re changing the chords. And the chord progression is beautiful. Nice feel.
J: But I don’t know if it fits the mood of the song. You know, with these lyrics – it’s a very heartbreaking thing.
So here it is with the words in there – if I remember them. At first it was, “I go through each day,” but then I decided to do it “my day.” (Judy demonstrates by singing)
P: Very nice. That tempo stuff is all new – you’re thinking about it at the beginning. As you’re writing, you’re already planning these things.
J: I don’t know what the rest of the lyrics are because it hasn’t spoken to me. It’s so hard to write these lyrics. . .
JUDY & PEACHES LESSON #2
Clicking the blue link below plays audio:
J: I’m okay – just emotional. You know when we give birth to a song what happens.
J: It’s so hard. Because when you’re emoting a song, it just literally pulls the words from the heart – it just tears out of your heart. I think I just finished my song this morning! I was coming here today; I had one more verse . . . But yesterday, I scrawled out words for the chorus and rearranged them.
And the hardest part was – what was the punch line? It’s interesting, because I had to look at all the rhymes and I think I found the last line that fit for me. It was, “I’ll face the unknown.” And it’s good; I think that might be my title. I’m not sure yet.
Setting myself free is being on my own. I was also thinking should my rhyme be to “face the unknown” or “go out on my own?” But I like that it’s ambiguous. It’s not like I have fear. It’s just unknown. And the unknown can be beautiful, it can be difficult – it’s just unknown.
P: That’s right.
J: The courage that it takes to face the unknown is what my song is about. That’s what I’ve decided.
It’s a song about being in so much misery that you’re willing to face the unknown!
And the thing is I’m trying to find rhymes that are different – because I did “feel me” and “heal me.” I’m using two words that have the same ending word with the rhyme being the word ahead of it. I did “near me” and “hear me.” And I did “alert you” and “hurt you.” But “begun to” and “stun you” don’t really work.
P: Those two don’t work together?
J: They’re not perfect rhymes. I actually got a better one. I was thinking, “How will you miss me? You never kiss me.”
J: Each line has to be heart-wrenching for me. And those weren’t heart-wrenching enough.
P: You weren’t digging deep enough?
J: No. And I liked this rhyme a lot, “There’s no connection, without affection.”
P: Ooh, that’s nice.
J: Then I thought what is the chorus going to be? So I decided – I’m getting away! But where am I going? I went with, “I run from you, don’t know where to.”
And this is a little bit too wordy; I’m going to have to find a way to shorten it: “The touch you withhold, caused my heart to grow cold.” That line has too many syllables.
P: You think so? I mean I haven’t heard how you fit it in.
J: I might get used to it. Then I go to, “That’s when I withdrew. I feel so alone, your heart is like stone.” That was a good image for me; I was thinking, is that the song title? “I lie awake, I feel my heart break. I’m ready to face the unknown.”
P: Wow! You know, I haven’t heard it put that way in a song before!
Judy plays the guitar and begins singing, but bursts into tears.
J: I can’t do it! Oh, God . . .
P: You’re one of the sweetest people I know.
J: I’ll figure it out. It’s like that with every song.
P: That is amazing. You’re writing the songs – you’re living what you’re writing. Like some kind of a . . .
J: It’s a musical! My life is a musical! I swear – I’m living it.
P: You’ve always said that. And it just seems to get truer – I see it more and more.
J: I wrote it as a musical when I was young and then I had to stop. And now I’m releasing 30 years of feelings.
But I didn’t know what I’d write when I started writing. I didn’t know I’d dig this deep. And the fact that I can express it – How can I share this with the world and not with the person I’m writing about? He wouldn’t have a clue.
Clicking the blue link below plays audio:
© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Tags: acoustic guitar, Aging Parents, composing, coping with divorce, courage to change your life, creativity, divorce after long marriage, divorce and separation, gray divorce, grief, GRIEF RELATED, guitar, guitar performance, honest lyrics, impending divorce, inspiration, Kulak's Woodshed, loss, lyric development, lyric writing, lyrics, mother's illness, Music, navigating divorce after a long marriage, original songs, Painful lyrics, Peaches Chrenko, performing, Reasons for divorce, separation, singing, song leading to divorce, songwriting, the unknown, voice lessons, writing