What shall I write about today? First of all, let me apologize to the multitudes (technically anything more than 1 is a multitude, right?) of followers that I have neglected the past few months. I know there has been a Hartzer-shaped void in your life, and for that I am sincerely sorry. If I’m being completely honest, the biggest reason for my absence is the fact that I wasn’t feeling very creative for a while.
If you remember my post about “Real Men”, I discussed some of the challenges life has hurled my way over the past couple of years. Well, not much has changed. We are still living in a travel trailer 16 months after Hurricane Michael, still waiting on insurance money (like many other people in our area), and still longing for the day when we can begin repairing the inside of our home. All of that, coupled with the events that took place “before the storm” (as we all say around here) can do a number on one’s ability to remain positive.
One of my good Twitter friends, Stoney deGeyter (@StoneyD) begins each day with something he calls “Daily Gratitude”. His first tweet of every day lists something for which he is grateful, and why he is grateful for it. I liked the idea, so I joined the movement. I stuck with it for a while, but there came a point in which I suddenly didn’t feel very grateful for the crappy (pardon my French) things that were happening, and I stopped tweeting my Daily Gratitude. I also stopped writing blogs for my website, stopped working on the book I am trying to publish (or the next book I have planned), and stopped doing anything creative. A few days became a few weeks, which became a few months. I felt like Luke Skywalker, who had closed himself off from The Force in “The Last Jedi”. The good news is that I got a lot of TV-watching done during that time (trying to see the glass as half-full).
If you’ve ever done anything creative, whether it be writing a story, writing a song, painting, sculpting, etc. you know the feeling you get when you think of a great idea. That little surge of adrenaline that puts a hop in your step. That feeling that tells you that you’re producing something beautiful and significant. I had not felt that feeling for a while, but one day it hit me in the most unexpected way. In the middle of a church service.
Strangely enough, this is not the first time the lightning bolt of inspiration has stricken me in the middle of a church service. When I was a couple chapters into writing “A Confession of Faith” (my first novel and future best-seller (glass half-full), I was sitting in a church service, intently listening to the sermon as I always do, when I got this feeling. You know that feeling when somebody says something and you just know there’s an idea for a joke somewhere but you just can’t find it right away? No? Just me? Anyway…I got this feeling that there was an awesome idea for an ending to my book lurking somewhere out there. I began to chew on some things within the vast expanses of my brain, and within a few seconds it hit me. The perfect ending for my book. When I got home, I quickly wrote an outline for the ending, and as I wrote the first draft over the next few months, I just couldn’t wait to get to that point in the story. I finally finished the first draft, fleshed out the ending, and it was everything I dreamed it could be. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it here. You’ll just have to read it for yourself, or wait for the movie (there’s that glass again). But back to my other church-service-inspiration.
In January, I was sitting in a church service, listening intently to the sermon as I always do, when an idea popped into my head. It was an idea I had never experienced before, so I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. It was an idea for a song. I’m not what I would call a musician, (although I do manage to bang on the drums in a semi-coherent manner every Sunday), so I had never thought about writing a song. A few years ago I jokingly wrote the chorus of a parody of today’s country music called “Don’t Chuck in my Truck” (maybe I’ll post the lyrics to this song in the future), and I had dabbled in some poetry, but this was completely foreign to me. A phrase became a chorus, more ideas became parts of verses, and I immediately got my phone out and used my “Notes” app to save these ideas. When I got home, I finished writing out the first draft. I then thought to myself “All good church songs have a bridge”, so I came up with one of those too. By mid-afternoon I had what appeared to be an actual song. I didn’t have a tune in my head, but I had the lyrics. It even rhymed and everything. I had that feeling again. That feeling I had sorely missed for the previous couple of months.
For me, one of the hardest parts of writing anything is sharing it with other people. Even though it looks good to me, I’m always afraid they will look at it and scoff. That night, I overcame my apprehension and showed my song to my wife. I watched intently as her eyes traveled back and forth, and then I noticed some tears forming. I wasn’t sure if that was a good sign or not, but it turns out that it was. Armed with a fresh sense of confidence, I then sent the lyrics to the couple who leads the worship team at our church. We got together, and they had some ideas for the melody. A couple of sessions later, they suggested I rewrite the rhythm of the verses and the idea that hit me was much more powerful than my original verses. There it was. Our new song. We made a recording with her singing and him playing the guitar, and then I was the one who started crying. Hearing that recording made me realize the magnitude of what we had done, and I felt simultaneously proud and humble.
We are in the process of ironing out some minor details, and we will be ready to present this song to the church in the next couple of weeks. I’m nervous, but I also can’t wait to share our creation. The words to this song are my life, set to music. It’s more personal than just about anything I have ever written, but it’s not just for me. It will relate to others that have gone through storms in their lives, whether they were actual storms such as hurricanes, or figurative storms. It’s a great reminder of how we need to respond when we go through things in our lives.
Strangely enough, my song inspirations haven’t stopped. Every few days it seems I am stricken with another idea. It may be a phrase, a line, or a scripture, but something gives me a spark. I then open my Notes app again and begin to type away. Sometimes I write out a whole song, sometimes it’s just a chorus that I leave alone for the time being, and sometimes it’s just a concept. Since mid-January I have saved a total of 12 songs and/or song ideas, so expect my first album entitled “Pastor, I Promise I Pay Attention to Your Sermons” to drop this October.
As a result of all this songwriting, I’m getting that bug again. Not the bug I had in December that caused me to lie in bed for 3 days straight. The bug that makes me feel creative. The bug that makes me want to keep pursuing the crazy dream of publishing “A Confession of Faith”. The bug that makes me want to write more books, songs, or whatever other ideas hit me. I just want to write. Sometimes it seems like the voices in my head won’t stop, and I have to get my phone out again. But I guess that’s just the curse of being creative. Even if none of these songs ever reach the top of the charts, it’s been a fun outlet and it has gotten my creative juices flowing.
What about you? Do you ever have these strange moments of inspiration in which you feel like these ideas just come out of nowhere? I’d love to hear about them in the “Comments” section. And if you like what you read, please subscribe so you’ll be notified when I post something new. I promise not to wait another few months this time. Now as luck would have it, I just got another song idea. So if you’ll excuse me, I need to grab my phone again.