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Being a Songwriter

Updated on August 26, 2010

Being a Songwriter

Being a Songwriter

by Chuck RitenouR

I thought it might be interesting to give you a small peek into the life of a songwriter. Am I saying it is the same for all songwriters? The answer is no. I think writers in general are as different as snow flakes. I can truthfully only let you look into my experiences.

In college, my literature professor was very keen on the idea of "creative tension". That event in all writers' lives that compelled them to write regardless whether it was poetry, novels or as in my case songs. I am often awaken for a sound sleep with a song running through my head and I have to write it down immediately or it will be lost. It is a gift and as such must be honored.

If you take the time to read several of my song lyrics, you will discover that many of them are very short poetic stories. I have written several about the Civil War. My family has lived in the Shenandoah Valley since the early 1700s. Three brothers sailed to America from Roterdam and were among the first settlers. By the time of the civil war, though marriages we were related to nearly every family in Frederick, Warren and Shenandoah County. In that conflict, 33 members of our family fought for the Confederacy, while six fought for the Union. My maternal grandfather passed down many stories his grandfather Joel had told him. They were never stories of "glory" . Joel had lost an arm in a small battle at Melton, Virginia now named Overall. As a member of the 18th Virginia Cavalry, little more than three hundred men engaged several thousand Union calvalry and fought them for 3 days while the Battle of Cedar Creek raged in Middletown, Virginia. Thus keeping those cavalry from joining the fight and greatly increasing the odds against the Confederate Army. Joel lost his arm in that fight. My grandfather often spoke of the disappiontment and the suffering which our family endured after the war. Those stories has compelled me to write on that subject. They are my creative tension.

I also write of broken hearts. As a young man, a musician, I seldom gave a second thought to the feelings of women. My life was a series of one night stands and short involvements. I had focused all my attention on my ambitions. I even treated marriages as if they were not as important as my own personal agenda. While married to my second wife, I fell in love with another woman. Sure I thought I knew what love was, but I had been very much mistaken. This woman was my every thing. "What goes around comes around came around to me". After being together for five years, I discovered it had all been a lie. She had never been true. I was devastated to the point of attempting to take my own life. That in its self, was creative tension and I started writing about a song a day for several years. While writing these songs, I began to realize that in order for me to become a sentient being I had to suffer that which I had carelessly done to others. This also created a creative tension and brought about even more writing.

These are but two examples of the creative tension that compels me to write. Do I write hoping for fame? Do I write for the notoriety? Do I write to become wealthy? No, I write because I am compelled to do so. I believe if you were to ask many of the fine writers on HubPages why they write their answer would be the same as mine. I am compelled to do so.


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    • Chuck RitenouR profile image

      Chuck RitenouR 7 years ago from Front Royal, Virginia


      Actually, I in all honesty make no claim to talent. I am merely suggesting that my old college professor is correct in saying it is creative tension that compels one to write. In my own case at times, it is surely a curse.

    • equealla profile image

      equealla 7 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      You are definitely right to the asumption that you have a talent. The words is flowing in short sweet and definite messages.

      Counting the years and writing a song a day, wow, it is almost like breathing. It is not only a talent, it is a life...

    • Chuck RitenouR profile image

      Chuck RitenouR 7 years ago from Front Royal, Virginia


      sometimes that which we become successful doing does not add happiness to our lives.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      To some extent that is true of me.As somebody said they could probably have been more successful doing almost amything else, but the stick to writing.