We had the good fortune of connecting with Lorraine Devon Wilke and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lorraine, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
On some level, this question has been a “guiding conundrum” throughout my entire life (I say that with a slight wink and in all seriousness!). Whether workout programs, career paths, artistic projects, or bad boyfriends, the mantra of “keep going… you can do it!” sometimes clouds the wisdom to know when it’s time to move on (and I like “move on” better than “give up”). Particularly as an independent creative entrepreneur, I’ve been dogged throughout my life, always the tenacious, resilient one willing to hang on until the bloody end of whatever end I was hanging onto, and that tenacity has proven to be both admirable and, at times, utterly foolish. I can look back at various chapters of my life and recognize there were times when the urgency of my goal—and how much I identified it with me, not just what I do—pushed me past points of productiveness or realistic fruition. But as dispiriting as those realizations were, they also became a part of my accrued wisdom, hard won experience that allowed me to formulate a better gauge, a more accurate metric, for knowing when to power on or when not. For me, now, the metric is simple: Whenever I consider the next step I’m about to take, might take, should take, have been advised to take, I ask myself this: Do I feel interested, curious, excited, anticipatory, determined, hopeful, driven? Or do I feel exhausted, bored, deflated, enervated, even repelled? An honest answer to that metric always makes my decision clear, and I’ve learned to honor that process. I’ve also learned that sometimes a negative response can be temporary; I may just need to backburner something for a bit, take a break, focus elsewhere, and check back with the metric later. If it changed in the interim, carry on. If not… on the road again!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
It was a therapist, I think, who first said to me, “You’re a ‘creative!” as if this were a revelation. And though I can’t say I’d ever framed myself with that particular noun before, it fit (she was a good therapist). From the time I could think, my parents surrounded me and my siblings (a group which ultimately grew to ten… yes, I have ten siblings, all from the same two parents… amazing, right?!) with books, music, theater, and film, and it was clear they felt such artistic input was essential to our development. I’m not sure they were as enthusiastic about me actually making a career of it all, but there was no doubt, after I figured out I could sing, loved theater, and never stopped writing, that was, indeed, my path: Theater major at the University of Illinois, years on the road with bands, Los Angeles and full-body immersion into the world of theater, film & TV, screenwriting, and rock & roll—all of which got me to the 2000s. Then it was a new century with a new take on theatre and music, the art of editorializing, along with the leap into writing novels. Three novels later, and pre-COVID, I was performing with my current band, Sixth & Third, doing live theater (in both San Diego and Los Angeles), writing Op-Eds and social commentary at various sites, my blog, and a column at Medium, traveling as extensively as possible, and reveling in life with my family and friends. Now… during-COVID? Band is back-burnered for the moment, as is live theater, but I’m still writing (got a fourth novel and a short story working, and never stop “commenting” on life and politics!), and am currently in development with two colleagues on a virtual workshop focused on race, bias, and empathy; we’re hoping to launch that soon. As for my “brand”? Yes, it’s still all about creativity, but the kind that embraces not only the arts, but the creativity of connection, of conversation, of reaching out and making change and demanding more of our human collective. This has been a tough last few years, surrounded by people and “think” that seem to diminish respect, intelligence, and inclusion, and I feel that we Creatives — along with everybody else — have to reclaim the stage, to push higher ideals, hold to more honorable principles, promote the value of integrity, truth, and shared welfare. I’ve always seen my art, my personal creativity, as the conduit for my ways of doing all that; I still do. Now I’m just ready to parlay that creativity into greater service in ways that will, hopefully, have positive impact.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Having lived in Los Angeles for as long as I have, there are several neighborhoods within the city that I love and take friends to whenever they’re in town. Here’s just some of what I’ve got:
1. DTLA: Love downtown! Get to the Grand Central Market for the rush of diverse, vibrant, literally-humming city life, and a panoply of food and drink choices that will likely overwhelm by the sheer volume of it all… you can’t go wrong, whatever you choose!
2. While downtown, find your way to the corner of Grand and Hope; Walt Disney Concert Hall. Even though it’s closed during COVID, it’s worth a visit simply to see this amazing, gorgeous, utterly unique edifice. Take pictures, pose, walk around every nook and cranny. Architectural eye candy.
3. As a former 80s rocker, Melrose Avenue in Hollywood was an all-time fave place for food, drinks, clubs, clothes, and rock culture. I don’t get there often now, but whenever I’m in Hollywood I make the stop. It’s still an eclectic, colorful, wild neighborhood and no matter what you’re looking for in any of those categories, you’re likely to find it. And I think you can still wear torn fishnets and fit right in!
4. There’s no end to the list of amazing, award-winning, culinarily-innovative eating spots in Los Angeles, so I won’t even try…other than to mention that my very favorite coffee shop is The Coffee Company on La Tijera near LAX. Not only is the food amazing and the menu huge and eclectic, but the vibe is what makes it special. As I’ve said many times: “This place could save the universe,” in that it’s filled, every day, with people of every culture, race, creed, color, orientation, etc., and it buzzes with warmth and welcome. And the “shrimp and grits” is to die for.
5. If you want a poshy beach experience, there’s no better poshy beach neighborhood than Manhattan Beach. The shopping areas on Manhattan Beach Blvd. and Manhattan Avenue are boutique-oriented, with lots of great restaurants and pubs. They’ve COVID-proofed the place with charming sidewalk eating areas, and of course… there’s the beach. The pier is gorgeous, and if you’re there at the right time, you can take in lots of very impressive beach volleyball.
6. Griffith Park. Nobody loves a gorgeous, expansive, nature-exploding municipal park better than me, and this place is not only huge, it encompasses The Greek Theater, the Griffith Observatory, the LA Zoo, Autry Museum, the Hollywood Sign, and Travel Town museum, but miles and miles and miles of incredible, mountainous, hilly, scrubby, wonderful hiking trails. You can immerse yourself in the park and feel like you’re in the middle of wilderness and there really isn’t a world-class city just miles away. Regardless of what’s not open during COVID, it’s worth taking it all in, even if it’s a drive-by. But do get out, put on some hiking boots, and climb a few hillsides… you’ll feel like a true westerner if you do.
7. Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica: I have seen some of the most talented singers, musicians, even magicians on this iconic stretch, and it’s always worth a visit, whether for people watching, grabbing an ice cream cone, shopping, or seeking out some excellent eats.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
This shoutout goes to my “Circle of Wagons,” the strong women in my life who’ve been a part of my story since—in some cases—I was a very young girl. Figuring out how to safely and sanely emerge from my family of origin, discover who I was, what I wanted to be; defining a path and marching forward into the narrative of my unfolding journey, was poignantly witnessed, shared, and accompanied by this amazing cadre of women—creative, brilliant, powerful, innovative, emotional, sensitive, embracing women. Some I’m related to, some are the sort of friends we all hope to have, all are the kind of people who care enough to SEE ME; to read my books, listen to my music, come to my shows, laugh at my jokes, cry at my sorrows, and applaud whatever is undeniably ME, at whatever age, state of being, or level of success. Unconditional friendship from every one of them surrounds me, and is an incredible gift for which I am always and deeply grateful. I must also “shoutout” to the two most significant men in my life: my son, Dillon, who grounds me in ways I could have never imagined and makes everything in life better for his existence, and my husband, Pete, whose decades of love, support, collaboration, humor, joy, challenge, dedication, creativity, and appreciation are the foundation of all that matters most in my life. And, yes, to Susie Singer Carter, my inimitable, indefatigable girlfriend who graciously opened this particular door…
Other: Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/lorraine-devon-wilke Amazon author page; https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00K2ZOLSA Photography website: https://lorraine-devon-wilke.pixels.com/
The first in the 8-shot pack of photos (the one of me in front of a large art piece) should be credited to Ken Jacques.
The “personal photo,” and the one of me and my cat to Maureen Grammer.