Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Writing Songs


Dear Sir or Madam,

Will you read my book? It took me years to write, will you take a look? It's based on a novel by a man named Lear and I need a job, so I want to be a paperback writer.

It's a dirty story of a dirty man, and his clinging wife doesn't understand. Their son is working for the Daily Mail, it's a steady job but he wants to be a paperback writer,


It's a thousand pages, give or take a few. I'll be writing more in a week or two. I can make it longer if you like the style. I can change it round and I want to be a paperback writer.


If you really like it you can have the rights. It could make a million for you overnight. If you must return it, you can send it here. But I need a break and I want to be a paperback writer.

Sincerely,
Paperback Writer

I'm a Beatles fan and I've probably listened to the song "Paperback Writer" (these are slightly modified lyrics) a couple hundred times but it wasn't until I wrote my first query letter that I actually understood what John Lennon and Paul McCartney were getting at.

It's a freaking query letter!


Like most writers, I'm fascinated by words. So I guess it's not surprising that I love song lyrics. I've even written a couple songs myself!

And I LOVE it when two of my favorite things come together, writing and music.

There are dozens of songs that reference different aspects of writing. Lyric writing is a craft unto itself but it shares a lot with all writing genres. For example:

Anna Nalick shares the pain of the creative process and what it feels like to have something so personal go out into the world for everyone to put their own spin on.


Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings share their thoughts about work ethic and dealing with publishers music executives.


And Vampire Weekend even has strong opinions about grammar!

 
I'll leave you today with a quote from songwriter and singer Tracy Chapman that mirrors my own feelings about all types of writing:
 
Songwriting is a very mysterious process. It feels like creating something from nothing. It's something I don't feel like I really control.

6 comments:

  1. I Love that song by the beatles. It's always fascinated me, one part query, one part desperate writer. I also enjoy Breathe but have not heard the other two before now.

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  2. It's true, songwriting has a lot in common with writing fiction. The good and the bad together. :) Good luck with querying, Adam!

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  3. I always smile at that beatles song. I wonder if it started life as a query letter when they weren't famous?

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    1. I was wondering the same thing.

      There's actually an explanation of how the song came to be on Wikipedia:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paperback_Writer

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