Jenny Simmons vividly recalls stepping into the studio of one of the most accomplished songwriters in Nashville for her first writing collaboration.
“It was the first time I’d written with a real writer in Nashville. He’s written many singles in Christian music that have topped radio charts, and I was so nervous. Because I used to write songs – at that point, you know, I was twenty two years old – I was writing a song after I got into a fight with somebody, or I had a really great Bible study. There had to be some sort of Earth-shaking occasion that happened, and then I would journal those words out.”
“So I didn’t have any real discipline. Honestly, I just wrote on whim and whimsy. So when I got into this building with millions of fluorescent lights nothing was happening in my life there in the moment. There was nothing pressing that I really felt I was supposed to write about, and I didn’t know this man. I thought this was the weirdest thing ever. How are we going to write a song out of thin air? We don’t know each other! There’s no life drama! This was a bizarre moment.”
Then she glimpsed something on the composer’s piano.
“Taped on his piano – there was this quote by a famous pianist, and it says something along the lines of – the great composer doesn’t work because he’s inspired. He shows up to work every day and hopes for inspiration.”
“I said, ‘Wow!’. And he said, ‘Oh! You see my note! Yeah, if you wait for inspiration and you wait for the perfect recipe to arrive at your door, you might not ever write a song. Instead, you’ve got to get up every day, work hard, and hope that inspiration arrives.’“
A truth in songwriting also extends to the way we heal from painful moments in our lives.
“So that works in songwriting, but I think a lot of times we think healing is going to happen instantly and overnight. You know, how we’re going we’re going to pray like, ‘God, fix this.’ I’d like this moment to go away. To make this situation disappear.
“But the truth is that healing is like a slow dance, and it takes time and effort and energy. The women especially that I’ve met along the way that are healing from sexual abuse, trauma, sexual exploitation, and trafficking know – they will tell you – healing doesn’t happen overnight for them. It’s a day by day, slow process, and they don’t only show up and do the work of healing when they feel like it. There’s a lot more days when they don’t feel like it.”
“I think anybody that’s walking through a season where they’re recovering from something – the process of healing doesn’t always happen overnight.“
On the Road with Jenny Simmons