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December is CREATIVE HABITAT month. I’m looking at ways artistic people manage to make fulfilling lives, despite and also because of structures and limitations. Today I’m celebrating independence, with just a little chip on my shoulder:

Alec Baldwin is a great interviewer. I’ve been listening to his podcast Here’s the Thing for a few years, and I really enjoyed his recent chat with Patti Smith.

Now, Alec is a movie star, and he’s with NYC Radio. He’s got a lot of support and clout. (I wish I had backing like that for my forthcoming podcast, Irish Music Stories…)

But Patti Smith came from a poor family in New Jersey. She went to NYC to find work, made a creative career happen, and then took 16 years off to raise two kids (with just one pause to make an album, when she and Fred were strapped). Maybe she couldn’t quite manifest her poetry/music success in today’s climate. But she’d drum up something. As she said, she’s scrappy. She’d get by.

There are a lot of Pattis out there. Musicians, dancers, writers, artists who do good work and find a way to sell it in some way. Today, doing that means A LOT of extra-artistic skills (tech know-how, the stomach to engage in social media, organizing tours and calendars, connecting with media, constant innovation and entrepreneurial invention to ‘stay out there–but not push yourself in a marketing kind of way).

With all the expectations for the successful indie artist, many of us seek representation and try to farm out some of the work. But for all the money and project managing it takes to have a team, there are no guarantees that it leads to any greater success.

And adding to that, a lot of us scrappy musicians have kids. For those of us who moved places that made sense for our creative careers, we don’t have family nearby to help out. (I wish my mom lived closer.) So we find babysitters and ask friends to help. Or we take our kid along with us, or we try to teach lessons in the house, using Lego as diversion… It’s a bit of a mess at times. But we push through.

So Alec Baldwin’s situation seems pretty easy. But it probably isn’t. It’s probably hard for all of us, no matter how much support we do or don’t have.

Here’s a big “Rock On” to the indie gang. And best wishes to the kids with a team, too. We can do this!

Leap, Little Frog

a musician's musings on nesting, being creative, traveling, and parenting