MusicalWriters Academy Member Laura Goodenow (she/her) is a lyricist, bookwriter, and self-producer currently living in Indianapolis and Nashville. Her company, Real Women Make Waves, is focused on developing stories by or about women to be seen, heard, read, and – above all – felt. At the 2023 Musical Writers Festival, she was part of pitch night presentations with two different composer collaborators – cleaVage with Dr. Ron Friedman, and Exposed with Justin Rayna.
MusicalWriters sat down with Goodenow after the 2023 Festival to talk about collaboration, favorite festival moments, and more for this month’s Member Spotlight.
How did you get started writing musicals?
Laura Goodenow: That’s a very long story. Let me just say, I met a guy and…
What are you working on right now?
LG: So many things! Aside from the musicals listed on my website, www.realwomenmakewaves.com, I’m writing a book book, as well as standalone songs for some artists in Nashville.
What’s a lesson you’ve learned from your writing journey that you’d like to share?
LG: Put your show out there, and let it grow up. I wrote and rewrote a musical for years before I let anyone read it. I told myself, “It’s not perfect yet… It’s not perfect yet…” When, in reality, it will never be perfect. Especially if it just lives in your head and on your computer. There are so many steps AFTER that first table read. Don’t put it off. I still struggle with perfection paralysis, but I’m getting better at making that first step. Working on multiple shows has helped.
Writing a musical isn’t easy. What’s your “why” in being a musical writer?
LG: Perhaps because of my journalistic background and my idealist humanitarianism, I write to open minds, build bridges, and unthread difficult subjects. Each piece carries its own unique why. But, overall, there’s nothing more powerful and entertaining than a well-written musical, IMO. If done properly—when the words are crafted and the music supports the emotion—it can penetrate even the most hardened hearts, moving them to laughter or tears. Encouraging empathy and understanding. Creating connection.
Why did you join MusicalWriters Academy?
LG: At first I was seeking community and encouragement. Being vulnerable is a muscle I’m still strengthening. Now, after having experienced the cornucopia that is Musical Writers, I remain a member because of the tangible opportunities to bring your show to life. And the people, of course. Especially the extremely talented, knowledgeable and generous Rebecca Lowery.
What was your most memorable moment from the Musical Writers Festival this year?
LG: Oh, my. There were so many. Selfishly, I loved hearing our songs performed, I appreciated the opportunity to pitch, and I was thrilled to see an excerpt of cleaVage. Each time actors get their hands on it, I learn something new. Then again, hearing the works of other talented writers and being together with people who share my passion, that truly was a gift.
Click here to purchase access to all the 2023 Festival recordings.
What’s your proudest accomplishment as a musical writer?
LG: To date, I’d say our staged reading of cleaVage. The actors were phenomenal. It’s the furthest I’ve taken a show, and I’m so excited for the next steps.
Members of the Musical Writers Academy have the opportunity to submit staged readings several times a year as art of their membership. Click here to learn more. Academy membership is open now!
Do you have any regular collaborators?
LG: I actually have several collaborators – all different, all amazing. Dr. Ron Friedman can out-pun anyone in the world, I’ve no doubt. Justin Rayna is a brilliant composer, and I truly appreciate how much we trust each other. Bethy Bacon has this quirky, jazzy sound that’s just irresistible. And then there’s that guy…
What do you love about MusicalWriters.com?
LG: Its commitment to bringing works off the page and onto the stage.
What is your favorite musical writing (tech) tool?
LG: Google Drive. With two minds involved in the book for cleaVage, there’s a lot of back and forth. Google Docs allows us to make changes in real time and leave comments if one of us is offline.
Click here for a Musical Writers tutorial on submitting and sharing work via Google Drive.
What’s the best way to get better as a musical writer?
LG: Write. Get feedback. Rewrite. Get feedback. Rewrite…
Do you have a website? What tool or service did you use to create it?
LG: www.realwomenmakewaves.com includes the website links for two of the shows. I used Squarespace to create all of the sites.
Do you use social media as a writer? Which site is your favorite?
LG: I should be better at this. I’ve set up social media for cleaVage, but that’s about it.
Just for fun: What’s your favorite “guilty pleasure” album to listen to on repeat?
LG: Les Mis, but there’s no guilt involved whatsoever. Honestly, I’m usually listening to my own shows to see what needs to change.
Lightning Round with Laura Goodenow
Coffee or tea? Coffee, but it must be a latte or cappuccino
Cats or dogs? Cats
Digital or analog? Digital
Fly solo or team up? Depends on the project
Pizza or Hamburgers? Pizza
Road trip or fly? Yes! Where are we going?
City, Country, or Suburbs? City
Flip Flops or Crocs? Are those my only choices?
Apple or Android? Apple
Most recently used emojis? Blowing a kiss ????
Last thing you texted? Today’s word-of-the-day, to my boys
Three things within arms reach right now? Sliding door for fresh air, water bottle I always forget to drink, headphones
What is one question you wish we would have asked?
“Can you invest in one of my shows?” Absolutely! Give me a call, and let’s talk.
Thanks so much to Laura Goodenow for sharing her time and her talents with Musical Writers!
Connect with – and learn more about – Laura at realwomenmakewaves.com.