“Do you make enough from Portraits of White to pay yourself?” Another great question from a fan.
The simple answer is not yet, but I hope to.
But there’s always more to the story than just a two word answer, right?
When I first started Portraits of White, I was doing 50 – 100 events per year, working at a church part time and writing/recording albums. I had to be organized and make good use of every moment I had. I suppose it was good preparation for starting a big Christmas event.
Portraits of White took my music career on a path filled with higher mountains, lower valleys, roller coaster twists and horseshoe turns emotionally and financially. It challenged my faith, musicianship, tenacity and endurance. I’ve learned a lot about myself, show production, business, marketing, and realistic goal setting, for starters.
“There’s nothing so powerful as an idea who’s time has come.” — Jim Rohn
Sometimes ideas can feel like little mosquitos who are pesky and want a place to land and suck your blood. At least, that’s how I feel some days. I can’t possibly carry out all of the ideas that pop into my mind or give them a place to live. BUT….in the end, ideas can be our friends. We just have to learn how to nurture, prioritize and categorize them. 🙂
When you see Portraits of White, you’ll be witnessing the power of an idea.
A snowy day led to the idea for the title song, Portraits of White.
One single manger scene in a Christmas shop in 1999 sparked the idea for the song Take Another Look.
That song took me down a path of “skipping Christmas” that year so I could pay attention to the holiday sadness I often felt in December.
Skipping Christmas opened up space for me to start expressing my feelings through songwriting.
Those seeds of songs started me thinking about doing a Christmas album.
The album provided more ideas – how about a show where we “hear” and “see” the music?
It came to pass in 2014 and it will again this year!
Do you have your tickets to see this show yet? 😉
Jim Rohn suggests 5 steps for turning nothing into something:
1) Start with ideas and imagination – they aren’t tangible, but they are almost real.2) Believe that what you imagine is possible for you.
Two types of testimonials can provide inspiration for us:
“If I can do it, you can do it.” (Someone else’s story)
“If I did it once, I can do it again.” (Our own story)
3) Go to work and make it real – make it tangible. 4) It takes the disciplined activity to make it reality. 5) Appreciate the discipline it takes to follow through and see it happen.
“What inspires you to create? What inspires you, not just your music, but your life?”
This question makes me wonder. Do we have to be “inspired” to create?
I started out my songwriting journey writing solely by inspiration. I’d hear lyrics and melodies in my head. All I had to do was sit down at the piano and follow their lead. They always seemed to lead somewhere. Based on that experience, I was convinced that it was best to just wait for the inspiration.
One time I heard one of my favorite songwriters say that they wait for inspiration. They never write unless they first hear a phrase or lyric in their mind. That seemed very magical and spiritual.
Then I attended a songwriting workshop where the leader said we write by inspiration AND perspiration. “Nah,” I thought to myself. “Why would I bother making myself sweat to write when I can wait to feel inspired?”
Then I heard about the non-profit organization called Songs of Love. They were looking for songwriters to write and produce songs for children and teens with a lifetime disability or terminal illness. Something nudged me to audition.
When I found out that I was accepted as a songwriter, I was thrilled and anxious to get started. Until I got my first profile. “Now I HAVE to come up with a fully produced song within 25 days,” I said to myself while feeling a sudden sense of panic. What if inspiration doesn’t strike? Oops….
Remembering that songs are basically a combination of elements: lyrics, notes, rhythms, etc., I started to focus on the task. I played with the rhythm and sound of the child’s name. How could I creatively use it in a song?
Aha! I had a chorus idea. Then I started in on the verses. Next thing I knew, I had a song. I felt extremely inspired.
I’ve been writing for Songs of Love for over 17 years now and I can say that I’m no longer convinced I need to wait for inspiration. It sure would be nice to feel something special every time I want to write, but I’ve discovered that creative juices can get flowing just by starting.
One of my songwriting heroes, Robert Sterling says “As dull as it sounds, songwriters find their ideas and inspiration hiding in mundane, everyday things and places—in resources available to anyone willing to pay attention. Those same resources are all around you every day, and they fall into two general categories: reading and listening.”
Back to the original question… What inspires you to create?
I decided to take a different approach for answering this week’s fan question. I was pretty sure that if I’d sit down and take the time to reflect on the songs I’ve written, I could probably always trace their start to a specific event, phrase or moment.
So over the weekend I sat down and listed the song titles from my albums. Beside the song title, I wrote a short phrase that describes the spark that started the song. You’ll see that some ideas were just simple, every day events or words, like Robert suggests. They didn’t come dressed up in sparkles like some kind of fancy genie who pops out of a bottle when you make a wish. Oh if only!! But all it took was a spark and inspiration soon followed.
I hope this will inspire you to pay close attention to the things you hear, see and feel! You never know when creativity is waiting right around the corner.
Big sister flies away (Big Blue Sky)
Vocal exercise (From My Heart)
Digging in my garden (Master Gardener)
Wilted flower garden (Rain)
Y2K (Just When You Think)
Sunday sermon (Living Fire)
Feel like I’m always fighting another battle (God is Able)
Racine (The Memory of You)
Husband shoveling snow (Moments)
A discouraged friend (Who You Are)
The word “turn” (Turn and Look in His Eyes)
Youth missions – camp sermon (Love Me)
Moment of overwhelming peace (Sometimes)
Bad news (Be Joyful)
Family finances (The Bottom of Grace)
Doubts (I Still Believe)
Faulty synthesizer (Never By Accident)
Family farm auction (Bidder on the Heart)
Making a career decision (Wrong Thing)
Flashy female speaker (Personalities)
Watching a friend’s life change (Free From the Inside Out)
Spontaneous Spirit jingle (He Can)
Pussy willow tree on childhood farm (Innocence is Good)
Visiting my father’s grave (Someone Else’s Shoes)
The harp and the bowl sermon (In the Hand of the Lord)
Cat looking out the window (Shatter the Glass)
Blooming lilacs (Missin’ You)
Tragic accident (I Can Pray)
Phone call from my brother (Pond Beside the Barn)
Teenage slumber party (Wonderfully Created)
100 year church celebration (I Know God)
Radio show (Miracles)
Radios in India (One Small Box)
Playful piano (Joy to the World)
Snow drifts (Portraits of White)
List from pre-school mom (MOPS)
One night I had a dream (Back to the Heart of Christmas)
Writing challenge from producer (Ride in the Sleigh)