Sometimes it’s not always about talent. There are some great artists out there who are completely unknown. So what’s the formula, and why does it work for some and not others?
Of course talent plays a big part, if you can’t sing in key then you’re not going to be offered a record deal. But in saying that, some of the most popular songs in history have also been incredibly basic. While there may be guitarists out there who can play a more complicated arrangement, perhaps it isn’t as pleasing to the ear. Maybe it just isn’t what people want to hear. Or it could simply be the fashion—what worked five years ago, won’t work anymore.
The same applies to writing. I’ve read fancy literary books before, I know the writing style is impeccable and the sentence structure is exactly how the universities teach. But sometimes the story is boring. So what’s the point in all those perfect sentences if I don’t care about the characters or plot? It isn’t enough to keep me reading the book.
Then, there’s the likes of Twilight. It’s talked about as being one of the most appallingly written books in history. But people bought it and they loved it, in fact, even people who don’t read, read it! So why is it okay for Stephanie Meyer to write terribly but most other authors won’t get away with it?
Is there a formula, or is it simply a secret ingredient?
It has to be both. Aside from the occasional one hit wonder, most successful artists reached their fame by working damn hard for it. There are also a hell of a lot of people out there who put in the same amount of effort and no matter how many years they slug away they’ll never make it. That’s where the secret lies. For some people it’s pure luck. It’s about being in the right place at the right time, perhaps even knowing the right people.
There’s only one thing we can know for sure. You can’t expect success to come to you. You have to work for it, and no matter how many years pass and how many rejections are thrown your way, you have to keep going. You need to learn, to grow and sometimes you need to adapt. That’s the difference between an artist who makes it and one who doesn’t.
I’ve heard stories of people who treat their craft like a business. Those who assess the market and produce something they know they can sell. I guess that’s where the formula comes into it. But I think in order to be a true artist you have to really love what you do. Without that passion, I don’t understand how you can sustain success. There has to be a connection between who you are and what you create. If your product happens to be what people want, that’s great. If not, changing it could mean sacrificing part of your soul. It means your art is no longer for yourself, it’s for someone else. It’s on their terms. For me, I think that has to be a deal breaker.
Hard work won’t reap the rewards for everyone, but if your art is a part of who you are—it won’t matter. That passion is your fuel, even if it costs you money or no one ever sees it, it’s the thing that keeps your heart beating. And it’s better to dream big and give it everything you have, than to realise you never made it because you gave up too soon.
The great thing about art, is that you can never really fail.