Writing, like acting, is a marathon not a sprint

Yesterday I saw Fame the musical performed by STP Musicals at Fareham’s Ferneham Hall. I’m a great fan of musicals including all the classics, The Sound of Music, Carousel, Oklahoma, Annie Get Your Gun, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and many more. Being a former dancer I also adore the dance scenes. But the reason for me going to see Fame this time round had more to do with my niece appearing in the production than a desire to see the musical for itself – my niece is a singer and entertainer. What struck me yesterday though, while watching this highly professional performance, was that although I’d seen the film of Fame many years ago I’d forgotten the storyline and this time I related to it because I am working in one of those ‘creative industries,’ as portrayed in the musical.

In today’s culture of the X Factor, and similar type programmes, we’re force fed the instant fame message and with it instant wealth as being the only goal, rather than doing something for the sheer enjoyment of it and to enhance our own self development. The pursuit of this single goal can lead to frustrations and bitter disappointments. While it is good to have goals they also need to be realistic and achievable over time, and that ‘time’ can be some considerable years before we attain them. Carmen in Fame is in too much of a hurry to be ‘famous’ for fame’s sake to bother with the hard grind of learning and perfecting her craft, which in turn leads to her downfall.

Some people believe that if they write a book it will instantly become a best seller and shoot them to stardom, like J.K. Rowling, or Dan Brown, nice though that would be the chances of it happening are about as rare as finding an honest politician. The creative industry is a tough one. Although vastly enjoyable it can also be soul destroying with countless rejections. That comes with the territory. But working in one of the creative industries can also be extremely rewarding, especially when someone tells you how much pleasure and enjoyment you have given them.

We all need to find our style, or voice as it’s called, and that can take years of hard work learning our craft. Getting a book accepted for publication is a big hurdle often only happening after years of writing in one’s spare time, grabbing every possible moment to flesh out the plot, create the characters and actually write the thing. Learning how to create pace, tension and dialogue and revising the work until you feel you can’t do any more with it and even then never being completely satisfied. And even if you get it published there are more anxieties to come. Will it sell? Will anyone like it? Will I be commissioned to write another book? Can I even write another book? Just as actor will worry if he will land another part, earn enough to make a living, get a good review…

When you enter the world of writing (and performing) you are entering a marathon, not a sprint. There are no quick routes to the top only one and that requires hard work, perseverance, persistence and patience, a desire to constantly learn and improve and develop and experiment with your craft. And, as Longfellow said, to, ‘Learn to labour and to wait.’ Oh, and enjoy it along the way, because if you didn't enjoy it you wouldn't be doing it, would you?


Pauline Rowson said…
This translated into English is:
Diligence is lucky right hand, thrift is a lucky left hand.

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