I've been lucky lately, very lucky, to have stumbled into company with a great
bunch of intelligent, creative, fun people with whom I've started an original band. We call ourselves The Porchlights. Through my bandmates, I've met other talented, interesting people, one of whom is renowned Minnesota author, Nicole Helget. Nicole had a reading with local poet Matt Rasmussen at the Arts Center of St. Peter over the weekend, and The Porchlights played a song at said reading called "The Ballad of Beaver Jean," based on a character in Nicole's newly released book, Stillwater. The experience was quite enjoyable, the authors affable and interesting. Playing my accordion for a brightly lit room full of sober people listening intently was a bit of a switch from the clanging din of the dim bars I'm used to playing in. And somewhat unnerving. Especially when I looked up from my squeezebox to see Captone's Nonfiction Editorial Director, and published author, Nick Healy, grinning at me. For whatever reason, in that moment I was convinced Nick was laughing at me behind his twinkling blue eyes.
A larger theme for the evening was that of answering the question, "Why am I even doing this?" Why do writers write, artists create, and musicians play when the accolades aren't always forthcoming? When it's not raining money from the sky? When it seems like no one appreciates what you're putting out into the world? The answer: because we have to. There are those of us who simply feel compelled to put our feelings, desires, and visions into some tangible form. And maybe it's a little off-kilter. Maybe it's in a way that doesn't resonate with a lot of people. And maybe we ourselves don't even like what we're creating much of the time. But we have to do it.
This theme is ringing true with me still, days later. I grew up surrounded by people who were not creative. They were practical and pragmatic. At best my family was amused by my flights of fancy, and at worst, annoyed. I seemed to operate differently than they did. The answer to why creative types do what they do would never be found within my family members. It would never even occur to them to ASK the question (except possibly in reference to my oddities). But sitting in the Arts Center Saturday night, in a room full of people contemplating why we even do what we do, I felt validated and supported. I looked around at faces I did and didn't know and thought, "These are my kind of people."
Whether you're creatively inclined or not, I think it's important to support those who are. Because it's easy to get down on yourself when your creative endeavors seem dead in the water. It's easy to feel alone when the greater world doesn't seem to appreciate your vision. But who among us hasn't enjoyed a good movie, book, or song? For every great film, there are dozens of scenes on the cutting room floor. Behind every moving song are probably hundreds of tunes that didn't pan out. And I'm willing to bet that every published author has garbage bins and file folders full of stories the world will never know. A pretty smart guy once told me that humans need catharsis, and I'm inclined to agree. Maybe that's what was behind Nick's impish grin and twinkling eyes—catharsis.
Nah. I'm pretty sure he was laughing at me.
-Mandy Robbins, Senior Editor