I've had an interesting couple of days since my last blog post, and this subject elicited such intriguing comments that I thought a follow up post was appropriate.
I woke up very early two mornings ago because my body still wants to be on Europe time, and in an effort to feel productive, I composed a blog post about all the weird circumstances that cause success in this business. The funny thing was, I wasn't really writing the post about my own career per se, since I was in a fine mood about the way things are going for me. But I had been having all these conversations with frustrated colleagues in the few days before I wrote it, and I had been thinking about all the factors that go into creating a successful singer. I was busy feeling just fine about myself, and having fun writing pithy jokes (well, at least I thought they were pithy) about becoming a Buddhist and marrying a movie star, all while still curled up under my duvet cover.
Then, later that same day, I found out a piece of information that made me feel like someone had punched me in the heart with an ice pick. It was a career thing, and I didn't know the whole story, but the information I did have led me to jump to some conclusions that made me really, really depressed. I spent all day in a kind of haze, trying to sift through my own emotions and make sense of them. I re-read my own blog entry, reminding myself that so many of the decisions people in power make have little to do with talent and everything to do with other factors, and that this new information didn't have to change how I felt about myself as an artist. By the end of the day, I had come to terms with the new information, accepted it, and even managed to have a few really interesting and affecting conversations with friends on the subject of being an artist and believing in yourself. I felt like even though the information was difficult and upsetting, it had made me grow a little in my perception of myself.
Then, at the end of the day, I found out that the piece of information I had received had only been part of the story, and when I learned the whole story, the information changed completely, and had nothing whatsoever to do with me. In other words, I had spent all day doubting myself for absolutely no reason. Typical dramatic over-reaction on my part.
In the meantime, my blog post was generating a firestorm (okay, maybe that word is an exaggeration of what my blog was generating, but it sounds newsy, so let me have it) of some really interesting comments from several people about the subject of career success. People from all different facets of the business were weighing in on the tangled and sticky business of career politics, and I found the comments to be extremely fascinating and thought provoking.
Then, I had a great conversation with someone in the business that I really trust, and was given some excellent advice: CALM DOWN. I was reminded of the fact that there is a part of this career that is really like a JOB, and that JOB is controlling our emotions in a way that allows us to continue to do the part we love - the arsty creative part. The job part - the part that's akin to slogging to a fluorescently lit cubicle every day in the snow - is the part where we put ourselves out there as artists, make ourselves vulnerable, get shot down, or squashed, or criticized, and yet we keep going. The "job" we have every day as artists is to continue to believe we have something to say even when it seems like nobody wants to hear it. The daily "work" of an artist is to stay calm in the face of both failure and success, and it really is something that requires an effort every single day. Whether it's keeping yourself from getting overly excited about a fabulous review, or preventing yourself from throwing your computer across the room when a google search reveals that somebody else got a job you really wanted, we all just have to CALM DOWN. And when we find that calm, we can do the single most important thing; make it through another day and start the whole process over again.
I would love to try to find an inspirational video on youtube with which to end this post of a kitten licking a mouse baby or something, but I have some pressing business to attend to. I haven't done my laundry since I've been back from Europe, and it's snowing out, so I can guarantee you that all the washing machines will be unavailable. So I've got to go practice my new CALM DOWN mantra in my building's laundry room. Wish me luck.