I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. My mom said it started because of my third grade teacher, but I have a hard time believing that because she was the only teacher who ever gave me a demerit, because I was looking in my Bible. But it doesn’t really matter when it started.
I would write in composition books in my free time. I loved English class because they would always have fun writing prompts where I could come up with a cool story. And in middle school I started working on a couple books inspired by my dreams that I have now made into a complete trilogy that I hope I can publish someday. I was able to blow some of my college dormmates minds with those stories.
I also signed up for Moviepilot, an old website that would post articles written by fans about movies, tv shows and other things that I would read to hear backstory on comicbook characters or their theories about how the show I was watching would turn out. I even wrote a few articles for them, just for fun, and I got a few thousand reads.
Then I posted an article about movie deaths, and they shared it all over Facebook! It made my reads shoot up over 200,000 in just a day which was quite an accomplishment. I wrote a few more that gained readers as some of the CW DC shows began gaining popularity, but sadly the site shut down so you can’t check out my page anymore.
Over the last year my writing turned to, wait for it, blogging! #surprise I’m still occasionally working on my novels that I would love to finish and show people one day, but blogging is a way that I can write stories about my life and that I can always remember. It also is a great way for people to stay updated with my life and hear how things are going. It’s a way for me to be honest about the good and the bad we face on the road.
One of the other ways I’ve always enjoyed writing is through music. When I was in middle school I started trying to write songs. I’d find inspiration from bands, artists, the Bible and more. They weren’t very good, honestly, but I started. After showing one of my songs at the Fine Arts competition for Oregon and being heavily criticized, I gave up. I didn’t think I was good.
Then in college I was required to write a song in my Music Theory II class, and I actually had fun with it! I got an A, and I submitted it as a potential song for my college’s upcoming album! That one didn’t make it, but I wrote a second one and it got selected. I didn’t get to sing it, but it was really cool to get a check for all the downloads of the songs. I think I made about $100 from it.
I would occasionally write worship songs and other styles of songs when inspiration hit, but I kind of lost the ability to do that when I moved to Utah because I didn’t readily have a piano available. It’s hard to write a song when you’re missing the chords behind the melody. But the words would be so important to me. They would show a part of my heart, and sometimes it would take days to find the perfect word or line for the song.
When I joined the band, writing music became a reality again. But it was very different from what I had done before. I’d write part of a melody and find chords to go with it, and it would come from inspiration very easily. The band wrote the instrumental side first, and then I had to find melodies and lyrics that fit the mood of the song. It’s been a challenge for me and helped me grow, but other times it leaves me stumped. Good thing I’ve got James and Garrett to give a little inspiration from time to time.
But even through the challenge of writing this way, I’ve taken time to make sure the words matter. The meaning of the song comes from the chords, moves through the melody, and finds expression in the words. I’ve put a lot of work into it, but other than James the words aren’t always noticed.
It’s funny because when we’re working on a new song the guys will all hum or sing a line that gets stuck in the head, but they don’t know the words so they’ll make them up. It makes me laugh, but at the same time it makes me wonder if they know the words to our songs. If they’ve sat down and thought about it like they’ve thought about the chords they’re playing. And at nearly every concert we’ve put on, they’re hearing our music for the first time.
We were going to be playing a concert in the basement of a coffee shop in Budapest, Hungary for a youth outreach program. They wanted us to be outreach-focused because many of the kids go to better learn English, and they don’t know God. One of the exercises they wanted to do to engage the kids is talk about one of our songs.
So since we were going to be taking part in discussions, I became excited. People were going to think about the words like I had and see what it might mean for them. So I sat down with the guys ahead of time and talked through the song Break Down about how James and I written it and the word choices we made.
Sam and Kyle almost seemed surprised and intrigued by the depth of meaning in the song. It deals with addiction, temptation, and letting go of something that is hurting you while struggling with the fact that you still want it. Garrett was intrigued as well. Even though you may hear the words and sing them, the true meaning doesn’t always dawn on you until you reflect on it.
The discussions went great. I don’t know if any of the kids opened up about their personal struggles because of the song, but they were talking. They were learning and sharing some stories. I sat by a group where a young woman named Reka was, and she was sharing for a long time. She was speaking Hungarian so I couldn’t understand everything she said, but she was laughing, then became intense and passionate about her words. Something had hit home with her.
After we finished our show and the students were hanging out, she came up to me and thanked me for being there and sharing our music. I gladly chatted with her for a couple minutes, and then she told me that she really enjoyed the song. She said the words were meaningful.
It hit me when she said that. No one had told me before that the words I had worked so hard to write and make right were impactful, that it made them think or realize something in their life. They were truths for me and for James, but that was it. So to hear someone tell me that it meant something to her was intense.
Every writer wants to know that their work made someone feel something. I’d seen it in my stories through my friends reading them, in my blogs through the way people engaged, even through my articles on Moviepilot. But hearing it from someone around the world who took a second to pause and think through our song, it made a world of a difference to me. My thoughts and effort weren’t overlooked, they were embraced. And even if God used it just for that girl, it was worth every second.