How often do you learn about the backgrounds of other creators who do what you do? Do you read about your idols? Do you ask those you meet who are just starting out how their journeys are going? Do these stories inspire you? Motivate you? Confound you?
I have been watching a reality show called Songland recently. If you haven’t seen it yet, an episode goes like this. Four songwriters get to present songs to a panel of three renowned producers, and a popular artist who is hoping to cut one of the tracks. Three of the songs are chosen and each producer takes a writer under their wing to rework the song to make it the best it can be. Finally, the revised songs are presented to the artist and they pick the song that’s going to go on their next album.
We also learn about their background of these writers – where they came from, how they got into the biz. That’s the gist of it and it’s pretty cool to see these unsung heroes respected and getting their props. There’s a lot of talent out there.
And, I have to say, there have been a couple of writers who have left me questioning things.
There was one fellow who had actually been training for the Olympics but, as can happen, he suffered an injury and his future as an athlete was over. So, he turned to writing as a form of therapy. And, basically, in the words of the producers, he was a “beast”. His song was amazing, his production was totally on par, and his performance has this ethereal, mesmerizing quality to it. I couldn’t keep my eyes off him. And while I was thoroughly impressed and inspired, I was also kind of, oh, well, annoyed.
Everyone has their own wins and challenges in this life. I can acknowledge that. But I have been composing and writing songs for thirty years. Music has been my life in one capacity or another since the age of six. And here comes this kid – I don’t think he was more than twenty – who came upon songwriting literally by accident and he’s blowing everybody away. What am I supposed to do with that information?
Now, I didn’t go so far as to ask, how is this fair? But I guess I could have. I mean, it’s just like a person who’s been taking acting classes for years and hardly getting any auditions while someone else is discovered in line at the grocery store and ends up winning an Academy Award. It doesn’t seem to make sense.
Or, one could look at the amazing J.K. Rowling. Notice the disclaimer – she is amazing! Now, on a personal level, sure, she had a rough go of it. Single mom, bad relationships, living in virtual poverty. But here’s someone who just decides to write a novel because it comes to her – she hasn’t been slaving away for decades – and she has nine rejections before being accepted by a publisher. A whole whopping nine. That’s not even double digits. Most writers wish they only had to send their manuscript to nine people before becoming successful. Of course, in reading Harry Potter, most people would think publishers 1-8 were complete idiots but 20/20 hindsight, you know. So you can look at that story and think what you will.
But then you have to concede that, just as everyone has their own unique backstory, everyone has their own journey. That songwriter and J.K. Rowling are where they are for a reason and you can’t begrudge them that. If you dig deeper, they may be doing things in an innovative way. They have thought patterns and discipline practices that you can learn from. Success is just as much a mental game as anything else, after all. And if you think about it, isn’t it inspiring to imagine that anything can happen at any time? Life-changing opportunities can come to you today, tomorrow, next week, next month, and you can end up taking a different path all together.
So, I guess my point is, when you read or otherwise learn about the backstory of other creative people, be jealous if you want, but also take what you can from it. Do they have interesting approaches to their craft? What is their creative routine like or do they even have one? How did they get known in their field? Who did they connect with and how did it happen? In realizing that we are all just doing our thing, we can be inspired by each other and have a sense of compassion because, while somebody may be sleeping on a golden bed, it doesn’t mean the road has been easy. But then people can be just having a great time too, so…
In Swimming Tigress news, I’ve got some new tracks up on Pond 5 so if you’re looking for some stock production music for your podcast, YouTube show or whatever, check it all out at https://www.pond5.com/artist/tprochera#1/2064 !