I first wrote a song when I was less than a decade old. It was a silly, simple song about how I loved my family. I even took the time to write it down. Just a few years later, I would fashion a "guitar" out of a tennis racquet and a couple of old shoe laces for a guitar strap. I suppose this falls somewhere between an air guitar and the real thing.
I had a good friend in college who was a writer. It was her self-evident and inescapable truth. I found her one morning in the dining hall writing, as always, in her journal. She was not only a good writer, but she had that insanely beautiful penmanship I've always wished I had. Myself having changed majors a number of times (I started in the music school and ended up a politics major), I told her that I envied her because she knew who she was. Without hesitation, she replied that she envied me. I asked her why. "Because you have a choice," she told me.
Whatever choices I've made in life, that songwriting impulse has never left me, even when I had all but convinced myself it was nothing more than an odd, useless pastime. Well, it did serve some use as cheap therapy. Eventually, there was no longer any reasonable way to avoid the truth that songwriting is a fundamental part of who I am. Brown hair, brown eyes, songwriter. I did know who I was.
So I decided to attend a songwriting workshop almost four years ago, in Port Aransas, Texas. When I first arrived, I had an odd moment of panic. I thought, what am I doing here, I don't belong here, this is stupid, what was I thinking?
Then I met the workshop organizers, fellow musicians and songwriters, and they were both so welcoming and generous that I did an about-face and spent the next several hours in my hotel room playing my guitar and singing in a gleeful state. That feeling persisted as I quickly got to know the other songwriters at the workshop. I had finally met my tribe. I felt like the prodigal songwriter.
Whatever happens along the way, I am better for choosing to do all I can, at last, to set myself free on this path. After all, as songwriters will tell you when they’re being honest, we’re no fun to be around when we aren’t writing.