Friday night I watched some of my singing students perform in their final year show. I was a proud poppa as I watched them strut their stuff. I know how much they have improved over the two years we’ve worked together – they’ve grown as singers, they are stretching their wings as actors and they have developed into talented and caring young adults. I feel a bursting sense of love for them all.
I also am filled with dread.
I’m filled with dread because I know that there is no room at the inn for them. They are graduating into a highly saturated profession. They are just one of thousands of young performing arts graduates with a modicum of skills and massive dreams. They are about the get a huge slap in the face and I hope they’re prepared for it.
One or two of them might get lucky, meet the right people, be in the right place at the right time for some kind of break and ride the wave to success. Maybe. The majority of them face the same uphill slog that all creative entrepreneurs face.
What I want to say to them is the great advice from Churchill:
Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
In this case, the enemy is simply the overwhelming odds against them (and me and you).
What’s the solution?
The solution is that there is no solution except to keep putting one foot in front of the other. As the Hammerstein/Kern song says, “fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly” and you gotta act (or paint or make films) until you die. There is no other option than to just commit to keep doing your art. You can’t beat yourself up if you aren’t succeeding, all you can do is “pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.”
Find whatever opportunities you can to do your art. Keep searching for an audience for your work. Keep it fresh for yourself. Find new challenges. Create your own opportunities to put your work in front of an audience.
Nurse your wounds. Gather friends close and support each other. Live a full life. Don’t wait for things to happen. Don’t put off experiences in life as life will only enrich your art.
Persistence outstrips talent every time – whether for actors, painters, musicians, writers, dancers, poets, etc. Doggedly showing up day after day to do the work (whether in your bedroom, studio or in major venues) is the only way to get better. And ensuring you get better every day will help keep you moving forward on this quest.