You can write a newspaper column every day for 20 years and get a paycheck every other Friday.

Or, you can write one good country music song and get royalty checks in the mail for the rest of your life.

That's why so many people strum guitars, hum incessantly, jot down clever sayings, and try to make it all come together in a catchy tune.

Some do it quietly, in the privacy of their homes, while others try everything out on a live audience, if they can find one.

One of the places songwriters can unleash their creativity is The Bluerose Café in West Ashley, a small neighborhood restaurant that devotes one Sunday night a month to these Bob Dylan wannabes.

'Following Stars'

"This is a different atmosphere than going into a large bar where everybody's focused on drinking and a good time," said Peter Ledbetter, a local musician who put together this Songwriters Showcase the last Sunday night of the month (6-9) at the Bluerose. "There are a lot of great songwriters out there. This is just something that needs to be done."

Sunday night, there were four artists on the menu.

David Boyd, 68, cut his teeth in Greenwich Village in the 1960s, quit music for a few decades, now writes and croons original tunes like "Heart Like Mary," and "Soldier Off To War."

Brad Surovec, spent most of his life working construction, but is releasing a CD with titles like "For A Look In Your Eyes" and "Just Like The Wind."

Becca Bessinger, 41, is a Pawleys Island native who left the area and returned a few years ago to try her hand at writing songs like, "I'll Make You Breathe," and "Following Stars."

Jeep White is a storyteller who plays a mean guitar while plucking your heartstrings with songs like "Red Paper Hearts," and "I Got Nobody."

World's ear

Almost all have lived the starving-artist lifestyle at one time or another, searching among the frets for that one sound that will catch the world's ear.

"What do you call a musician who just broke up with his girlfriend?" Ledbetter asked. "Homeless," he said, laughing at his own joke.

"There are the young songwriters doing the pop kind of stuff," said Jeep White, 59. "Then you've got the old hard-core folks doing traditional country, blues and folks music. We've just fallen into that and gotten comfortable with it, writing as much about ourselves and each other as anything else."

Denis O'Doherty, who owns the restaurant at 652 St. Andrews Boulevard, said the group approached him earlier this year to present this monthly showcase at his restaurant and it's growing in popularity.

Which means it's not too late to pull out your dusty rendition of "My Wife Just Left Me, And My Hunting Dog Went With Her," and make it a million-seller.

Hey, you never know.

You only need one.

Reach Ken Burger at kburger@postandcourier.com or 937-5598 or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Ken_Burger.