I watched “Tick Tick Boom!” recently and bawled my freaking eyes out.
No more eyes for me!
He sacrificed, he slogged, he didn’t act as though it was all just going to come to him because of any innate God-given talent… yet he still had some sense of entitlement which I actually feel ashamed to admit I recognise. A sense of “okay, now I’ve finished all of this insane amount of hard work, the difficult part is done, now it’s my time to shine!”
Or in his specific case: “now I’ve finished the musical, it’s time to be picked up by Broadway! That’s how it works!
A + B = C, right?
Talent + Hard Work = Success!
Then his agent calls - YES! His musical is amazing! YES! The important people who saw it at its workshop performance loved it! AND…
…no, it isn’t going to be produced.
It isn’t marketable.
His shock and heartbreak are palpable.
He’s been broke for so long just trying to pursue his art.
He’s even been self-righteous about NOT caving in and getting a comfortable job that would make his day to day life infinitely easier (oh gosh, how I relate to that too; getting up on your high horse about being above all that societal stuff because you’re so DEDICATED to your passion!)
And he’s done it all in the knowledge - which he now realises was just hope, a pipe dream even - that if he just puts the work in, the struggle will be over.
He takes a breath.
“So what am I supposed to do now?” he asks his agent.
“You pick up a pen and start writing the next one.”
After a plummet into despair upon realising this truth he had been blind to, that A + B does in fact, not equal C, that hard work + talent does not in fact, guarantee a goddamned thing, Jonathan Larson does what is in his nature. He writes. A new song. One about the very creative journey he’s dedicated his life to, “Why”.
“Hey, what a way to spend a day
Hey, what a way to spend a day
I make a vow
Right here and now
I'm gonna spend my time this way”
This IS what being an artist is all about. It’s so simple it actually makes me tear up right now remembering it being laid out like that.
What a way to spend a day.
What a way to spend a season.
What a way to spend a life.
That’s what it is all about. If you can make that philosophy your north star, then purely by the act of creating, you have succeeded.
“What a way to spend a day” Philosophy + Creating Things = Success.
And isn’t redefining success one of the pivotal points of any “successful” journey?
Art - making a career out of it - is absolutely possible, but there is every chance it’s going to take a LOT longer than you think it will.