Jace Carlton
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Performing Songwriter - Freelance Writer / Photojournalist - Poet - Author

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The following commentary appeared in the May 2003 edition of
The Songwriter's Connection.
Minor changes have recently been made.

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"Living A Creative Life"
by
Jace Carlton

"Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone."
Robert Allen


Some people thrive on taking risks, some don't.  Some enjoy the thrill of the unknown, others lack sufficient confidence or knowledge to try anything new or different.  We all "exist" in this life, but it takes something bigger than ourselves to make us truly "live" a life full of potential, to recognize possibilities, opportunities, etc., and strive to go after them, to live "outside the box", outside our comfort zone, to seek our destiny ... to literally reach for the unreachable star!

Some people make a choice to stick to what they know works.  They like the idea of going to college, earning a degree, working for a company that will provide a regular paycheck and that's it; generally living their lives "safely".  Nothing's wrong with that.  Nothing at ALL is wrong with that IF it fulfills them, satisfies their needs, desires, wants, goals, and most special dreams.

"For Love Of The Game"

Creative people are different.  We're an unusual people.  Yes, we DO like a regular source of income (we DO have bills to pay like anyone else), but there's something about living the "safe" life that just leaves us unfulfilled.  We are constantly striving within our own chosen creative fields to learn, to grow, to create, to share, to touch other people's emotions, hearts, souls, and minds with ideas, visual art, lyrical and / or melodic art, etc.  And we do it for art's sake.  We do it because we love it.  From the title of a Kevin Costner movie, we do it "For Love Of The Game".

Some people are able to earn a meager living at it.  Some are fortunate enough to make a nice living, their hard work, persistence, and consistent preparation finally paying off.  And a few are blessed with being in the right place at the right time and making it big.  The odds of hitting the really big time are pretty overwhelming, so if it hasn't happened to you (yet!), I wouldn't hold your breath for too long.  But at the same time, DON'T give up hope and your dreams!  Miracles happen every day in this business!

Money, however, for the most part anyway, is not WHY we do it.  Knowing the odds, I'd say that fewer than 1% of us actually are in this JUST for the money.  We write, sing, paint, shoot (photograph), and dream because we LOVE it.  Sometimes it's hard.  Heck, sometimes it seems downright impossible!  But we don't give up because it's literally our life blood!  It's what fulfills us!  It's what keeps our heart beating day in and day out!  We can't live if we can't create!!!


I recently read a letter from someone who had tried and tried for SO many years to "make it" in the music business.  He had finally decided to give it up.  Completely.  Just walk away.  He was worn out and just felt that he couldn't take it anymore.  Many people responded to his letter with words of encouragement.  "Don't quit altogether!  Just take some time away from it for awhile!  Don't give up on your writing or yourself!  Do what you need to do in the meantime, but never give up on your dream.  Don't let the inspiration die."  This gentleman, this kindred spirit, had a worthy cause behind his decision, needing to take care of family needs.

How many of us haven't thought of taking that same path.  It certainly seems easier, doesn't it?  But we didn’t choose the creative life because it was easy.  And I'm sure this fellow singer/songwriter didn’t either.  We chose it because nothing else can make us feel as alive as when we're writing, singing, painting, shooting, and dreaming, "Today's the day I'm finally going to make it!"  Whatever "it" is for each of us.

As tough as it may be for him to walk away from his dream of being a part of the music industry, I applaud his priorities.  Over 20 years ago I, too, put aside my dreams, aspirations and burning desire of being a fulltime songwriter to get a "regular" fulltime job to provide for my young wife and our growing family.  Would I do it again?  In a heartbeat!  BUT … I wouldn't have walked away from music altogether like I did.  I would have kept it as a part of my life, until I could one day make it my fulltime job.  My wife certainly believed in me just as much then as she does now, but I didn’t have the extended support system around me like I do today (songwriter's organizations, co-writers, etc.) to keep me going, to help me hang in there.  If you know of someone who's on the verge of quitting, help them, support them, encourage them, do whatever you can to help them not lose touch with their dreams.

Wherever you are in your pursuit of your dreams, take a moment and look around you.  If you've already "made it", it's because you spent years and years learning your craft and making the necessary improvements until finally your particular chosen "art" was recognized for it's "brilliance", "substance", "beauty", etc.  Many people were there to help you along your way.  Some, perhaps, for very brief times, while others have been with you through the bad times as well as the good.  They've cried with you and cheered with you.  All in all, life is good.

If you've "made it", look around for others that can use your helping hand.  They're not asking for a hand out, they're just looking for someone who knows what they're going through to help them make it another day, another mile.  An encouraging word, a comforting "I know what you're going through" smile, is all someone else needs to hang in there, to keep on trying.

B. C. Forbes said, "History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed.  They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats."  Don't give up!  Don't allow yourself to get discouraged.  What you do is SO valuable that you MUST keep trying.

Winston Churchill was once asked to give a commencement address and when it was his turn to speak he rose slowly, approached the lectern with great dignity, and gave one of the most inspiring and powerful speeches of his whole life … in just seven words ... and then sat down!  All he felt in his heart, all he knew about life, perfectly expressed in just seven words.  There's power in simple, direct words.

The Seven Words
(NO!  Not THOSE seven words!)

So, what were the seven words of Winston Churchill's most famous speech?  "Never give up.  Never ... NEVER ... give up!"  We mustn't either.

We've all been blessed with our own unique talents and abilities.  If we fail to recognize them, or fail to use them once we discover them, we will, no doubt, lose them.  These talents weren't given to us for our purposes.  They were entrusted to us for Higher purposes, to allow us to share with others, to lift others up, to inspire others to greatness.  These blessings weren't entrusted to us for the world's riches and admiration, but to help us forget about ourselves long enough to help one another.

I have a plaque near my desk that reads, "A hundred years from now it will not matter how much money I had in my bank account, the sort of house I lived in, or what kind of car I drove.  But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child."

For my purposes in this column I'd like to take the liberty of changing just a few words to apply to all of us:

"A hundred years from now it will not matter how much money I had in my bank account, the sort of house I lived in, or what kind of car I drove.  But the world may be different because I was important in the life of another human being."

One More Time

This message is important enough to say it again: "A hundred years from now it will not matter how much money I had in my bank account, the sort of house I lived in, or what kind of car I drove.  But the world may be different because I was important in the life of another human being."

What we do with our creativity touches other people, the extent of which can never be measured.  We're healers of the spirit!  I often receive comments from so many people that I've never met who subscribe to my "Change Your Stars!" motivational / inspirational messages about how a particular message was just perfect for them that day.  How was I to know?  Inspired?  Hmmm ... could be.  (Smiling broadly)  I'm on fairly close terms with a couple of wonderful Muses, as well as the Highest source of all.

I can think of SO many times that a song had a very powerful effect on me.  Last October I wrote a column titled, "They Came To Hear The Music" and dedicated it to Mickey Newbury.  His songs touched me SO deeply many years ago and I was blessed to meet him a few times, talk with him, and share with him how his songs had healed and lifted me at a time when I so desperately needed it.  To this day he remains an influence in my own songwriting.

When we put others before ourselves, when we share our talents to help other people, friend or stranger, our own needs and dreams will be moved along and fulfilled by others.  Like a Hallmark card, let's care enough to give our very best.  Then we'll be worthy of all that we desire.

AND ... we'll realize that we've stepped out of our comfort zone, and won't it feel good!

Copyright © 2006 by Jace Carlton

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Jace Carlton lives in the Nashville, TN area and is a member of NSAI.  A Freelance Writer / Photographer, Poet, Author, and former Radio DJ, he now enjoys a career as a Songwriter, and a collaborator much in demand predominantly in the Country genre, but also enjoys occasionally writing for A/C, Pop, R&B, Smooth Jazz, and Cabaret.  As a Freelance Writer he has contributed reviews on new CD's to online newsletters and regularly contributed book and concert reviews along with personal commentary on the music industry to Nashville's Songwriter's Connection e-Zine.

Jace is also the creator of the Change Your Stars! website and its companion daily motivational / inspirational e-mail message that's read by over 14,000 people all over the world.  For a free subscription click here and you'll be added within 24 hours.  Privacy Statement


Comments regarding this personal commentary may be sent to Jace@jacecarlton.com

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Copyright © 2006-2014, Jace Carlton.  All International Rights Reserved.