Come see the happy new Privacy Policy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

On Dreams

I get a series of "acting tips" via email newsletter from Bob Fraser. These primarily deal with the mindset and business skills necessary to be a "working actor."

In a recent newsletter, Bob writes:
Don't accept "reasons" to...give up your dream without a complete "investigation" into whether those"reasons" are real or someone else's illusion of reality.
Reminds me of a story Lawrence Block relates in Telling Lies for Fun and Profit:
There's an old story about a young man who cornered a world-famous violinist and begged to be allowed to play for him. If the master offered him encouragement, he would devote is life to music. But if his talent was not equal to his calling, he wanted to know ahead of time so he could avoid wasting his life. He played, and the great violinist shook his head. "You lack the fire," he said.

Decades later the two met again, and the would-be violinist, now a prosperous businessman, recalled their previous meeting. "You changed my entire life," he explained. "It was a bitter disappointment, giving up music, but I forced myself to accept your judgment. Thus, instead of becoming a fourth-rate musician, I've had a good life in the world of commerce. But tell me, how could you tell so readily that I lacked the fire?"

"Oh. I hardly listened when you played," the old master said. "That's what I tell everyone who plays for me--that they lack the fire."

"But that's unforgivable!" the businessman cried. "how could you do that? You altered the entire course of my life. Perhaps I could have been another Kreisler, another Heifetz--"

The old man shook his head again. "You don't understand," he said. "If you had had the fire, you would have paid no attention to me."
Here's another way of putting it, from Neil Gaiman:
It does help, to be a writer, to have the sort of crazed ego that doesn't allow for failure....Because the rejection slips will arrive. And, if the books are published, then you can pretty much guarantee that bad reviews will be as well. And you'll need to learn how to shrug and keep going. Or you stop, and get a real job.
"Paid no attention to me."

"Shrug and keep going."

Words to live by.


  1. Yeah...good words.

    On the days when Iw ant to give up, I tell myself that the only person who has to like my writing is me, and that even if I give up pursuing a career, then at the very least I should still write the stories *I* want to read.

    And it's usually that that gets me over the hump.

  2. I do a similar thing when the going gets hard.

    I actually turn to that story in the Block book and read it.

    Then I read the Gaiman quote which I have tacked to the wall next to my computer.

    Then I read this Bradbury quote (which I should've added but forgot):"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. "