One of the worries I, and many other writers, have is the thought “is this original or did I steal it from someone?”. The minute after I realize the song I just wrote is actually a variation of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” is a minute of immense disappointment.
But what I have found is that if I focus on being unique then I usually end up too paralyzed to either start or continue writing. Two things have helped me overcome this paralyses and a recent thought has helped me make sense of it all.
First, not everything I write needs to be published. In fact, 90% of what I write will never see the light of day. It could be that it is genuinely bad, or just meant to be an exercise, or maybe its decent but I just don’t enjoy singing it. Whatever the reason, knowing that I don’t have to publish everything means that I am free to explore without worrying about copying someone else (just a note: don’t publish someone’s intellectual property without their consent).
Second, if I focus on pursuing excellence then I just might find something unique in the process. Great songs happen when an individual’s training, life experience, and passion intersect. I can’t fabricate uniqueness. I need to live a unique life then try to express those experiences to the best of my ability.
Last, and this is a recent thought, old truths need a new voice to carry them to the next generation. It shouldn’t surprise us when we end up copying themes, ideas, feelings, and expressions from others. Although we each live unique lives we all run into the same truths. We may perceive these truths in a different light, or we might have different feelings about them, but these truths remain whether we like them or not. The sun rises and sets, water both nourishes and destroys, we long to love and to be loved.
As time goes on these truths, and many others, stay the same but it is the new voice that compels the next generation to remember them. So ask yourself, what old truth is resonating with you right now? And can you give that truth a new voice?
One truth that resonated with me recently is the fact that God is a gracious king who longs to hear and answer His children’s prayers. He is not far off, but is near. He is not cold, but loves to give His children good gifts. Spurgeon reflected on this in his writings on Psalm 5:2 in “The Treasury of David”. Here he writes:
Observe carefully these little pronouns “my King, and my God.” They are the pith and marrow of the plea. Here is a grand argument why God should answer prayer – because He is our King and our God. We are not aliens to Him: He is the King of our country. Kings are expected to hear the appeals of their own people. We are not strangers to Him; we are His worshippers, and he is our God: ours by covenant, by promise, by oath, by blood.Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Psalm 5:2
I read this just about the time that Lily was in the NICU after she had been born a month early. This truth resonated with me and led to the song “My King Has Heard My Cry”. To prepare for playing this song this Sunday I’ve put together a demo and a little video. Give it a listen and I hope you enjoy my attempt at giving an old truth a new voice.