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On being Creative


kens eyespaintOne of the things I am privileged to do is interview up and coming singer/songwriters. I started doing this when my partner David Dodds and I created songwritersmarketplace.com. an international site and San Diego Acoustic.com a local site.  Our original intention was somewhat different from what now exists, but there is no complaint from us.  Originally we wanted to post articles about songwriting and reviews on equipment. We still have the articles,from very talented folks who generously contribute to the site, on all things of interest to singer/songwriters (hopefully) the interviews was something I did because I knew so many talented people and it was just a natural outcome to chat and give promotional help to these people I cared so much about.

What came of it, as a true blessing, was the gift I got within each and every conversation with such creative people. As my site so ‘modestly’ asserts I am a poet, artist, author and a singer/songwriter. Most of my life I have plied those crafts on the side, while I labored as a contractor in the construction biz. That decision was made early in my life because it would give me the opportunities to gig, do art shows and write, particularly when the building market was slow. It certainly was difficult at times for my family, but all my creative endeavors have on those occasions contributed financially in difficult times.

My point being that when I look back through all those years it wasn’t my 6:00 to 6:00 job that kept me sane it was the fruit of my creative self. Every creative person I chat with says the same thing, “I write songs (paint, sculpt, write, dance, act etc.) because I have to.” The story is always a bit different as to what happen to start the process and every story is unique and remarkable.

The hardest thing any artist faces is whether to make their efforts into a full time endeavor, whether that effort will provide enough income to live at least modestly well.. Today’s economy is not at all helpful. And discourse among artists as to whether their work is devalued is  a conversation artists have had since there have been artists. The word ‘Selah’ in Kind David’s Psalms is said to be a note to accompanying musicians to present a musical interlude – one wonders if they complained about the low wages King David offered for their services.

The gift of creativity is apparent and needed by a society that seems, more and more, to devalue the work of, heart, mind and soul –synthisized into one dull grey phrase ‘intellectual property’.  I don’t think that any artist will deny that technology  has been a help, but can also point to where it has been a hinderence. In a recent interview with a remarkable singer/songwriter the current condition of the music bussiness is a result of the Internet – the ‘Gate’ is open.  The simple truth that everything both good and awful is put up on the web, the screening process of the old business has been removed. What the music business, the publishing business, the business of art will turn into when the cultural and technological dust settles no one knows.

What I know for myself and all those fantastic creative people I chat with is that there is no dampening of creative output in the world or the appreciation by society for the exceptional. Whatever the world becomes, the manifestations of creativity; art, music, and literature, will be a part of it, because it is what it is to be human, a spirit or a muse built in and permanent.  If you are a person that expresses their creative side continue and work hard to develop your craft  joyfully, even if the world now seems indifferent. Do it because you must.

Writer’s Computers Do Crash


The computer screen lit up and my rebuilt computer whirred into life. The poor beast, overworked and laden, gave up the ghost two weeks ago. It’s little brother, my trusty laptop, did not hold up the task of taking its place. It too coughed – hicupped – and sadly died. I sat in my black leather chair, in my office, and began to weep. The realization that I had been cut off from the world, severed most cruelly from ghostly relationships, tended so carefully across the ether. No more was I connected to my vaguely artistic works peppered hither and thither on the ethereal strands of the world wide web. I was overcome with a deep dread – I had been slowly cyberized, over the years, by trying to master these devices. How was I connected to the world? Not by handshakes and hugs, but by directed bytes, e-mails, and URL addresses.

I steeled myself up, pressing down the fearful flutters in my stomach. I was going to be strong. I would take my devices – for that is all they are – down to a computer shop where would sit a maven, an expert, who will take my broken wings and once again make them to fly. Soon all would be well. The magical diagnosis was performed and the worst was revealed. They were both old and worn, just like me. The rush of empathy nearly overwhelmed me. Then that which must be asked – was asked, “What do you want to do with them?” I was shocked dumbfounded. ‘Had he no heart?’ I thought. These have been my partners, my companions in arms. We have taken every battle with stout hearts and drives. We have, together, written over a million words. They sat there patiently while I sweat and ached to nudge some morsel from an unresponsive muse. They assisted me in writing all those query letters and felt, I’m sure, sympathy when the rejection letters and emails came rolling in. Do I just cast them in the garbage heap? They deserve more.

Then the brilliant and blessed A+ certified genius said, “Why don’t we drop a new, larger, hard drive and double up your RAM. Then you just reload your operating system and your software and your good to go – won’t cost you near as much as new computer. Your laptop just needs a couple of larger sticks – more memory. Easy! Buit you will lose your data when we re-format.”

"I have everything backed up on a remoter hard drive." Says I.

The light of heaven opened up and I heard the  Muse’ singing in a combined chorus of Alleluia. My friends could be resurrected. I could see the clouds breaking and all those past writers, who struggled with mere pen and paper, all were giving me a ‘thumbs up’. So generous are those previous others, who made their way without spell-checker and the Internet. We computer literate writers, of today, give a nod to those who loved their fine quill and expensive inks, who toiled away pounding the mechanical keys of an old Remington, tossing mistyped pages of incoherent thoughts into the trash.

“So, what do you want to do?”

I blinked as the vision passed and looked, watery eyed, at the techno maven. “Fix it! My food man, my techno savior, boost the power – boost the memory – get me up and on line as soon as you are able. We have work to do”

“Come and get them at five!”

The shakes began. “Five? That would be six hours.”

“Yeah! About that.”

“What will I do?”

“There’s a Mc Donald’s across the street. They have chairs and a big screen TV. Have one or two of those iced-coffees – they are good. I’ll have two or three every day.”

“I turned, thanked him, and found my way to the place he suggested. The iced-coffee was pretty good, as were the four cheeseburgers and three supersized fries. I watched Fox News and was brought up to date on the state of the delusional and evil Democratic Party, all of Obama’s failures, and how the Republican’s have and have always had the answers, thinking that it was good but found it odd that the Good Old Party neglects to enlighten we public, especially when they are in power. Since I was the only McPatron I was allowed to switch to CNN and learned that Republicans are also delusional and evil, and Democrats have and had always had the answers – that being that it is all the fault of the previous administration. I said 'amen' aloud, somewhat sarcastically, having heard it all through the last 10 adminisrations I have enjoyed, wondering how anything ever gets done. I turned on a soccer match and watched just as confused but spellbound by the constant movement and the astonishing enthusiastic screams of 'GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAL!' when the ball got by the fellow gaurding the netted goal. After a bit when I realized that getting that ball in the net was a tiring, exhausting, and nye impossible thing to do – I soon was singing 'Gooaaal' as well, just pleased to see some result come from all the running around and the handless skill it took to play this game.

I stopped watching and pulled out a real writing pad and started this article, wrote the bones of a song or two, a couple of poems, and some sketches of a McCustomer or two. Five o’clock slowly came, my mind no wiser in the political arena, a bit more appreciative of the most popular game in the world, and I, fast food badly fed, and caffeine charged  found my way back to the shop, trying to think of the last time I had taken that much time just sitting with my thoughts and allowing a creative steam to just flow. I made a promise to do it more often. I thanked the techno- wizard, took my now healed and recovered electronic patients home, spent the rest of the night, TV off, loading programs, connecting modems, setting up e-mail accounts, and having a wonderful time.

Even though life has its ups and downs – it’s all still pretty good. Isn’t it?

Ken Lehnig(c)2010 all rights reserved.