There is only once success — to be able to spend your life in your own way.
For some reason, tonight, when I should have been working on my writing I ended up watching part of the “X Factor” on TV. I know, I know — not the best use of my time. But there was a reason I tuned in. His name was Josh. My sister Steph had sent me a YouTube video of his audition for the show and it blew me away. He had an amazing voice, absolutely amazing.
Here’s the rub: to hear Josh sing again, I had to sit through a bunch of other performers: he was in the “over 30” group and didn’t sing until half way through the show. What interested me most about the other performers was how “slick” some of their routines and even their outfits were. In some cases, there were whole dance numbers going on around them and lots of flashing lights.
I got the feeling some of them would rather have just stood on the stage and belted out a song, but they put themselves at the mercy of some “handlers” who decided to “glitz” up their acts. But Josh resisted this. He’s a big teddy bear of a guy and kind of pudgy. He wore a simple outfit and he just stood on the stage and sang his heart out: there was no music, no flashing lights, only two dancers way in the background. It was electric! He sang “Forever Young” with soul and style. He knew how and what he wanted to sing and he didn’t let anyone steer him in the wrong direction. He blew every one else away.
What’s this got to do with writing? Well, it made me think about how important it is for us to stay true to ourselves and our work. Just like the “X Factor” contestants, sometimes we want to “make it” so much that we are tempted to try to be trendier or to write something that’s more “marketable.” But in our heart of hearts, we know the kind of writing we should be doing — and just like Josh, we need the courage to stay on the path that’s right for us, without fear or apology: we need to sing our own song. Write on!