Reconnecting with my many muses — what I’ve learned from writing 14 songs in 28 days
Every songwriter starts their journey longing to convey the complexity of the human condition into digestible nuggets of perspective. Somewhere along the way, we learn the craft. We pick up techniques to overcome writer’s block, to avoid clichés, to critique our work, to make every word more potent. Inevitably, we grow weary of autobiography and dabble into fiction. With the tools we’ve honed, we draw emotions from lived experiences, distill them to their essence, and blend them with a movie scene, a prompt, or a brief, to synthesize a scene, its characters, and their states of mind.
The last few years, I’ve written mostly to serve/support a story, responding to briefs from publishers, agents, and music supervisors. While it’s always a fun and rewarding challenge, sometimes it feels good to go back to writing for ourselves, with no other agenda. And that was my impetus to sign up for FAWM 2022.
February Album Writing Month (FAWM) is an annual challenge to write 14 new songs in 28 days. Every year, a community of thousands of songwriters from around the globe meet up to write, collaborate, listen, critique and encourage each other. Record Production Month (RPM) is a similar challenge for recording, rather than writing, songs. Both are great communities to join.
Which of these is me?
Since 2017, most of my music releases have been under jazz-pop duo 23rd Hour, for which the aesthetic is well defined by now: jazzy, singer-songwriter, acoustic-driven with quirky lyrics and wholesome, content vibes. Visually, I’m all about colorful retro dresses, cheerful floral motifs, and hats. Our music reflects exactly who we are. A happy, chill, timeless, quirky couple of creatives. Not particularly eccentric or edgy. Very much into holiday tunes.
But as a solo artist, I have evolved quite a bit from my last album release in 2010. Who is “Sherry-Lynn Lee” the solo artist, and what does she sound or look like? Can she pull off being edgy or is a Chinese Mauritian who grew up on top 40 music never going to be able to do that? Should she just be the same gal from 23rd Hour, but slightly more pop? Could she get away with more if she changed her name and never showed her face? With my…