Thursday, March 5, 2015

Sting on Talent vs. Luck

Jill here. Last year I was watching the Academy Awards. We always watch. My husband prints ballots and we all make guesses as to which film will win in each category. Last year, I did some research (since I'd only seen, like, two of the movies). And in the Best Documentary category, the critics were unanimous for a documentary called 20 Feet From Stardom. Here is a blurb:

They are the voices behind the greatest Rock, Pop and R&B hits of all time, but no one knows their names. Now in this award-winning documentary, director Morgan Neville shines the spotlight on the untold stories of such legendary background singers as Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Claudia Lennear, Judith Hill and more. These are the triumphs and heartbreaks of music's greatest unsung talents, featuring rare behind-the-scenes footage, vintage live performances, and interviews with superstars Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Mick Jagger, Stevie Wonder and Bette Midler.

20 Feet From Stardom won the Oscar for Best Documentary in 2014. As a creative type, it so intrigued me, that I added it to my Amazon shopping cart where it lived for almost a year. I finally bought it with some of my Christmas gift cards last December, and my husband and I just watched it.

It was fascinating to discover that so many famous songs had the same few backup singers. It floored me. And so few listeners even know these talented men and women's names.

Wow.

Now, not all these people longed to be in the spotlight. Some loved to sing and make art from music. And they didn't want to be that "entertainer" center stage. But some did. And many of them never hit it big.

All that leads me to today's quote, which I wrote down while watching the show. This came from Sting, who did many interviews on this project.




Lately, people tend to think that life should be fair. But it isn't. And people can enact lawsuits trying to force life to be fair, and some judges and juries might even agree with them. But it doesn't change the truth. Life is not fair. And the best people deal with that. They put on a smile each day. They keep a good attitude. They love on others. They work hard. They give, even if they don't get back.

I was able to draw so many parallels between the careers of singers and writers after watching this program. Many writers feel like those backup singers who are longing for the spotlight to shine on them. We write the books that come to us, the stories that we are passionate about. We write about characters that interest us. And we put the stories out there. But it's not always about talent. It's luck, destiny, circumstance. We sometimes can't even define what makes a book hit big. But our chosen profession isn't the only thing that defines us. And if we are going to enjoy life on this planet, we need to find a way to deal with the unfairness.

How do you deal with unfairness in the writing world? What are some ways you could choose joy each day?

18 comments:

  1. This is so true for the publishing industry. All we writers can do is write our best stories because there is so much luck involved in the process. I think the way I cope with this is by celebrating every small victory where I've done my best AND luck is on my side. That way, I can better remember those victories when I face rejection.

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  2. This quote is going on my wall. Luck is such an incredibly huge part of everything. I think it would be an incredibly dull industry if we always knew what was wanted and that we would succeed. I'm always goign to celebrate my little victories. Creating my own luck may be impossible, but I have a way to handle every rejection and pitfall if I remember how hard I worked to make dreams real.

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    1. What a wonderful outlook, Kelsey. I love how positive you are!

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  3. This is so thought-provoking, Jill. One of the things that's helped me recently is to think of a question I've heard Shannon Dittemore ask of herself. "What kind of writer do I want to be?" There's a lot we can't control in this industry, but THAT is something I get to choose. I get to choose what pace I work at, what type of books I write, who I write for, and lots of other similar things.

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    1. So true, Stephanie. I need to remind myself of this. The indecisive, over-achiever in me likes to do everything all the time, which is never the best plan. ;-)

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  4. This is so true. If we get hung up on everything we think we deserve and hasn't happened yet, we're just going to make ourselves miserable.

    I guess this is why it's so important to focus on why we're writing in the first place. None of us are writing because we thought this would be the best/easiest way to make a lot of money. We're writing because we're writers and we wouldn't know what to do with ourselves otherwise.

    I think if we keep our focus in the right place, we can work hard and aim for our dreams, but know that no matter what happens, we've done our best and we're still writers, and no one can take that away from us. That's not to say it won't hurt, or won't seem unfair, but this way we can remind ourselves who we are and what we truly want to accomplish.

    Anyway, there's my two cents. :) Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I loved your two cents, Amanda. This is such a great way of looking at things.

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  5. Wow. Great post. Kinda sad, but so true. I can't control the fact that life's not going to be fair, but I can work hard and chase my dream as far as I can. And if I do that, then, whether or not I become a bestseller, I'll still be a success. :D


    Alexa S. Winters
    thessalexa.blogspot.com

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  6. I choose joy and write for what you said: "We write the books that come to us, the stories that we are passionate about. We write about characters that interest us. And we put the stories out there." I still remember a teacher saying years ago Writers have to write. So true. I also like what Alexa said about pursuing dreams and being a success whether we are on the bestseller list or not. Yes!

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    1. It's so great when you have a teacher who is a writer, Anne. :-)

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  7. I. Adore this. Whenever I am rejected, I try to think of two things: 1. I have already done an amazing job by putting myself out there, and 2. Even if no one wanted to read anything I wrote, I would still write, because it makes me happy.

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  8. I never thought too much on how I deal with the 'unfairness' of writing life. Truthfully, I don't know if I've ever thought about it as unfair (at least, not the writing profession as a whole).

    However, I have my personal rants when I don't win a writing competition...and keep writing. Writing's what I do; in the end, the unfairness of the writing world doesn't matter. XD

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    1. Love this: "Writing's what I do." Yes! This is a great attitude to have.

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  9. So true and a necessary reminder. Your joy has to come from some other place. Not success. Not public recognition. Your joy has to come from a deeper well or you will be miserable in an industry where fairness does not fit into the equation.

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    1. "Your joy has to come from a deeper well." Yes, yes, Shan. So true.

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