It is the writer's privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart.
When I look back on my songwriting journey, there is a pretty obvious point at which my writing began to take an upward turn in terms of my overall ability to communicate well through songs. For the first 20 years, I wrote for myself. As an artist, I was always working toward a new project so the songs I wrote were mostly written with that in mind.
At age 35, something changed. I was at a very different place in my life, with four kids, a business to help run, and a renewed passion to use my gifts well. I became a student of my craft and worked hard to become a good steward of the talent God had given me. I felt a new calling to help others communicate their own message and started writing toward those opportunities. I purposefully sought out people who could help me grow and started knocking on a whole lot of doors. In addition to all that, I also started something I really had never done before. I started rewriting. And I loved it.
There is something special that happens when you sit with a lyric or melody and start evaluating it at a deeper level. The song become a puzzle and the pieces need to be checked and double-checked to be certain they are in the right place. Sometimes you think you've got every piece where it should be, then you move to a new position and see things from a different angle and suddenly you get the feeling in your gut that it doesn't look and sound quite right. So you start shifting things around. Sometimes you take out pieces altogether, realizing they might be a better fit for a different puzzle. Other times you move pieces around only to decide you should have left them where they were. It can be tedious and frustrating, but when you finally see and hear the finished work and know that you have the pieces exactly where they should be, it is a beautiful sight. And sound. And feeling.
I am grateful to have co-writers who share the commitment to rewriting. They don't settle for an okay song when we could push ourselves for "WOW." If I'm being honest, there are moments when a c0-writer suggests a rewrite and I think "Ugh, that's work." And it is. But at the end of the day, I know it's the kind of work that's worth it. Because after we've done the work, the puzzle is more beautiful. The impact is greater. The song is better.
Maybe my business card should say SONG REWRITER instead of SONGWRITER. Hmmm.....