Friday, August 3, 2012

I'm A Believer!

Rio Tinto Stadium, July 28th, 8.30 pm: HE takes to the stage.
His band has started off with the intro to Soolaimon, and I'm very happy about that because it's spectacular and brings the audience to their feet right away, never mind the really, really rotten sound in that open air venue. In fact the sound quality is SO rotten that it makes me cringe. These guys are normally so much better at this.

Anyway. This is not supposed to be a concert review. Everyone knows I'm a big Neil Diamond fan, have been for forty years. I like the music, I love the band, and I adore the Vocalist - and I know well I'm not the only one. But it took me all this time and a long trip to see him live in Salt Lake City to realize that there's actually a lot to learn from Neil.
It's actually quite obvious, and very easy.

Here's lesson No. 1: Be yourself.

If you found out what works for you, do it. Don't be deterred by what others say: if you feel good with what you're doing, do it. Neil Diamond did it, and it worked for him. He's an icon now.
This is a valuable lesson for anyone who wants to be a writer, you see, and the basic message here is: follow your instincts. There is only one YOU, and if you figure out how to use this in your writing, you will have your own voice, which is more valuable than anything else in writing. You can learn only so much from textbooks, classes, conferences or whatever. In the end, it always boils down to this: be yourself. In music, in life, in writing.
Neil Diamond is distinctly himself. Everyone recognizes his songs. They are unique. Sometimes a bit on the cheesy side, sometimes too melodramatic, but always clearly his. This is good!

Lesson No. 2: Be confident.

Believe in what you do!
If you don't believe in your own work, who else will? If YOU don't think it's worth the effort and the time, who will? Let those others smile and scoff, but don't stop believing in yourself. Ever.

Lesson No. 3: Never give up.

Because you never know which novel will be your breakthrough, and you learn with every sentence you write.
Just, you know, never give up if you really believe you have something worth writing. But that's something you have to figure out by yourself.

Lesson No. 4: Reinvent yourself.

Who says you have to be the same old self all the time? Wear them sparkly shirts when you think you have to, and when you think you need to tone down, wear a black business suit. Go on, surprise your audience! But whatever you decide to wear, always be dressed well and perform at your very best. And if the sound system fails, make sure you keep the show going without it.

Lesson No. 4: Stay humble.

Seriously: Stay humble. If you make it, then you made it because your audience and readers have helped you there. They are your friends. They love your work, and they probably admire you for your achievements. But: stay humble. Others work very hard too and maybe never make it, and the only difference between you and them is that one spark of luck or serendipity that gave you a head start. In the music business or in publishing hard work alone will get you nowhere. You need that golden moment of sheer, outrageous luck.

And finally:

Lesson No. 5: Age doesn't matter.

It doesn't. That is all. Just look at Neil: Seventy-one, and he still puts on a two-hour, no intermission, and he's the sole performer. No warm-up band, no guests, nothing. Just Neil, and his band of nearly half a century. If he can do it, so can we.

And now let's go out into the world and rock it with our writing the way he rocks it with the music!

Oh, btw: I'm in purple sparkles today, and off to write my novel No. 4. My publisher is waiting for it!