Many of our friends toil in the arts. They’re singers, pianists, and painters, playwrights, actors and essayists. And they’re all enjoying varying degrees of “success,” depending on how one defines the term. Those who don’t compose songs or declaim verse for a living suspect that the trick, the moment of magic, is getting discovered. They imagine someone powerful — a studio head, a television producer — somehow finding the previously anonymous artist, as though she were a forgotten Bach manuscript locked in an old attic trunk. Once the omnipotent dealmaker has identified the previously unknown artist’s prodigious talent, wealth and celebrity (and everything else that has nothing to do with art) are sure to follow.
The real “trick,” if you can call something so mundane by that term, is being ready.
That means when you’re performing for 12 people, all of whom you went to school or lived with, you treat your performance as though it were opening night at Carnegie Hall. It means you practice your craft as though the whole world was eagerly awaiting the product of your private struggles. It means that every time you set pen to paper, bow to string, or finger to lens, you honor your art with the same intensity and dedication you would exhibit if Joe Careermaker were evaluating you as a prospective client. By treating every rehearsal, every practice, every crappy low-paying gig as though it were on live national television, the moment that you appear on live national television will feel like every low-paying crappy gig and boring practice session. It’s just what you do.
We all have moments that change the direction of our life. Being ready makes every day one of those moments.