Advice to a young talent
I spend much of my time doing what amounts to "career counseling," particularly for artists (some of whom I'm sure you've heard of), and just posted this extemporaneous piece elsewhere, in reply to a fine young actress who'd run across some snarky words from alleged friends. Realizing it might be of use to others, I think I'll repost it here (and add it to a new category in my "memories" section, too: "Surviving the Arts" ;)).
Anyway, hope you like.
93 93/93 -- AJ
Oh, kiddo -- this is just absolutely
typical human behavior; so common as to be virtually irrelevant to you as a person, or your skills
. For some reason, when anyone aspires to creative success, some around her (or him) go through a predictable escalation of sneers:
1. She thinks she can act! Harrumph. She'll see.
2. So she got an acting gig! That wasn't such a much.
3. She works all the time now. She must be sleeping with someone, that's all I can say.
Then -- briefly -- when the glow of your own success might accrue to their benefit, you sometimes (not always!) get:
4. Isn't she great?! We're friends, you know.
...rapidly followed by:
5. She's so full of herself now. She'll pay for that attitude!
6. I used to like her. She's really sold out.
...and then "She used to be really good...she must be getting old."
Et. Friggin. Cetera.
So, with your permission, advice time. Resolve right now that:
A. You are performing as a matter of your own spiritual journey. Any "outward success" which flows from that is perfectly wonderful, but emphatically NOT THE POINT of what you're doing.
B. While always willing to learn things which will help you improve, you must be deaf, henceforth and forevermore, to destructive criticism. (Put another way: all criticism is either valid or invalid. To be valid it has to be specific ("She's never really 'in the moment,' she plays to the audience too much"), and you think about it and then let it go
; if invalid, or vague, dismiss it at once.)
C. This one's optional, but worth considering: recall the old Hollywood adage, "Never let 'em see you sweat." One's public persona should be a weird sort of radiant, yet humble, confidence: "What a stroke of luck! I keep getting these opportunities, which I shall do my best to deserve -- and how talented are all the delightful people I work with, and so many others I haven't as yet." It's a game, but (IMO) a virtually indispensable one: let people see either "I deserve this, dammit!" or "I'm not sure I'm up to this stupid hassle" and some will head for the jugular.
Sorry to go on at length; just sharing some of the advice that senryu
and I have learned over time; myself from growing up in an industry family, and twenty-plus years writing full time; she from working in the biz. Hope some of it helps. :D
Warmest 'n' best -- AJ
P.S. They're full of it, by the way. You totally rawk. ;)