Friday, November 10, 2017

Creative Writing about One's Own Creative Writing Habit (Lying about Lying in Songs)

I'd be willing to bet that some famous writers out there in the world have said and been quoted for saying something along the lines of "creative writing is lying."  Although I'm too lazy to google it and tell you which ones and how they actually phrased something similar, it's my blog, and I can do - or not do - whatever the hell I want, because there's this thing called freedom of speech and I'm being creative.  I'm engaging in a form of creative writing with my blog here, which itself is loosely based on my experiences with another type of creative writing - that being songwriting.  There's no doubt I'm a lazy dude, and in the time I've taken to type this, I could've produced the exact quote and attribution, but you get the point. 

Songwriting might not always be lying, but a lot of the time, I'm guessing it is.  Even when writing about your own personal experiences, you change a few facts for the sake of the song.  To make it more appealing, to work in a necessary rhyme, to protect the identity of the true characters, etc., you lie.  You change names, dates, places, and plots as you let your imagination run wild.  There's a reason real life stories are not as good as those you read in books, see in movies, or hear in songs.  Their writers haven't let the truth get in the way of a good story.  I'm pretty sure Samuel Clemens said that, but don't quote me on it.

I wish I could make a living at it - be a pro liar.  Obviously, I'm not that smart.  I've also heard it said you have to be pretty smart to get away with lying a lot.  That's not to say the as-yet-undiscovered smart and skilled liars out there won't turn pro eventually.  There's no imminent danger of that for me, but one never knows for sure what the future may bring.  Entertainment is pretending for the sake of lifting the listener above the ordinary, charming them, enchanting them, delighting them, giving them hope, engaging their hearts and minds, inspiring them, getting them excited, etc.  To achieve these things, it helps when you take reality as a starting point, then embellish to taste.

We're taught as children to tell the truth.  As we get older we realize white lies are sometimes necessary, often learning this from our elders, then applying it to our advantage.   Some take it further, which I admit I've done more than I wish I would've.  Especially as a young adult, I used to lie about myself to impress people mostly.  I guess I didn't want them to know the real story, so I embellished to make myself out to be more interesting than I really was.  I still feel compelled from time to time to do this when in conversation, but try hard to refrain from it.  I'm embarrassed I got so carried away with lying to people when I was younger.  The urge is still there, for some inner reason that's hard for me to grasp entirely, but I am able to curb it pretty well, and save it for my songs I suppose.

You'll notice my web site has a page for every song I've released, and on each I type anywhere from a few sentences to a few paragraphs about the "behind the music" stuff - the real story of how the song came into existence, how it started, how it evolved.  Some are based on real events, some on dreams, some on overheard conversations, and when I remember, I put those songwriter's notes there in case anyone might be interested.  The inspiration, the motivation, the original idea, these are the important parts, then the craft part takes over to fill in a few blanks here and there, and steer the song toward completion.  If you're interested in learning more about songwriting by learning about how someone else like me approaches it and how I've arrived at songs, then this blog might interest you in the first place.   Then if that is the case, you're probably the type of person who would want to stream my songs, and possibly even while listening, read more about how it became a song, and what I was thinking about at the time. 

This blog is brutally honest, but even within these posts, I probably make myself out to be better at songwriting than I really am, making it seem easier than it really is, and slight lies along those lines, but if you find any of it interesting, you'll be even more interested in the songwriter notes for each song.  To me, it's fascinating how others write songs, and quite often my interpretation and perceived meaning is far from what the songwriter was thinking when I learn about their story behind the song.  So, if you don't mind the risk of disappointment, go for it.  The starting point would be the songs page (, on which you can click a link to any song info page to read my anecdotes.

Again, with those, I try to be brutally honest as well, but who knows, even my story behind the song stories might contain lies, but I assure you that like the posts in this blog, I'm doing my best to tell it like it is, in all its ugliness and boringness.  Subject to truth-stretching is the nature of made-up stuff like song lyrics, just as song meanings are made up by each listener to some extent.  Shared interpretations of art might contain real feelings or what you want others to think you feel.

All that being said and set aside for a moment, my songs are genuine, authentic, real, from the heart, and written with the best of intentions based on whatever was motivating me to write it at the time.  For the sake of each song, in the event of personal experiences, real names and places are sometimes changed to protect the innocent and all that. 

So, I do assume responsibility for the content of my songs, and the opinions may reflect my own, or those of the characters in the songs.  Since I made up the characters, even if based on real people I've run across, they might be my views, but might not.  My stories may reflect real events, may not, etc., but you know - any standard disclaimer might or might not apply, depending on things and stuff.

Keep doing something you like and you'll keep craving more time spent doing it.  Take a break from it and the heart grows fonder of it.  Habits become tough to break and when they do you nothing but good, how can you even argue it's a waste of time?  If you get a kick out of it, a little jolt of satisfaction when you complete a good one, why not keep chasing that feeling?  If writing songs for you is form of habitual lying that makes you feel good, then pathological songwriting is a healthy pursuit.  The icing on this cake?  Little white lies aside, when other people report back to you that they liked your song.  How sweet it is.