a good problem to have
You've heard of writer's block?
Well, these days I seem to have the opposite problem. Call it writer's backlog.
I always keep a file of "songs to write"... and that file has become a binder... and the binder is bulging...
People often ask "where do you get the ideas for songs," but for me right now the issue is how to carve out the time to write some of the songs that are waiting to be written... when I seem to be spending so much of my time on organizational stuff (which is also good and important), and in particular working at the small matter of increasing the odds of deriving adequate income for the work that I do (again, that question of what is "adequate" or "enough"...).
It is gratifying that after nearly 5 years of "doing what I do" without other employment (aside for the daily hour of barn chores, which continues to be welcome physical labour and some grocery money), it's happening more and more that others are coming to me with ideas and proposals for projects, rather than just the other way around. This is something that I've been encouraging - for instance, regularly inviting the household and congregational/institutional "members" of my SmallTall Music ministry to share their thoughts and ideas and needs for songs.
"What do we need to sing?" continues to be the question that I ask myself - and others - all the time.
Another source I look to that helps to set some of the songwriting agenda is the events and agenda of the "broader body" of the church. When I hear about the theme and Scripture focus of a particular gathering or conference - when it has been discerned by the "broader body" that this is a particular text that is important for us to wrestle with right now - that is enough "discernment" for me, and I take it as a cue to work with that Scripture and see what happens.
So the latest "delivery of songs" includes one based on Deuteronomy 4:1-9, the theme text of the upcoming "People's Summit For Faithful Living" in Winnipeg this summer, and another one based on Philippians 2:1-11 which has been chosen as the focus for the Mennonite World Conference Assembly in Paraguay in 2009.
Yesterday I sent off these and two other songs (and various accompanying resources) to be posted for the SmallTall Music members. This is now the 6th delivery that I've made in this system, and I'm glad that I'm getting to the point where the "nuts and bolts" of the delivery system take up less of my time and effort, leaving more (in theory at least) for the songwriting itself.
And as for that backlog of ideas - my own and those that have been/are being contributed by others - I always seem to say that I'll have more time once I get that mini-tour confirmed... or once that project proposal is done... or once that potential partnership is firmed up a little... or...
In any case, for now, it's a good problem to have.