You won’t make work you can invite your grandparents to, but it’ll be work to which your little brother will invite his friends.
Your mind won’t rest easy and sometimes your obsession will cost you (a lot), but the mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.
Around 3% of your country’s population will see a work of theatre this year. Most of them are artists themselves. The ones who aren’t artists might never return. You’ll fight to fill the seats of the space you paid to be in without having job security, regular weekday hours, or speedboats. But you’ll find moments in your work that will challenge art’s lack of existence and reassert its tenacity. Devotion and commitment will be your own reward, and in dedication to the art, you will find play and virtuosity and solace and direction and color and truth and pride. You’ll be better off.
There will be music and so much of it. And that’s unequivocally wonderful.
Rehearsal spaces may be filled with mice and bad smells and you might have to bend the arms of people in order to get them to come to your side of town, but rehearsals will start on time with natural light, fresh brewed coffee, and with artists who take responsibility for the energy they bring into the room (and absolutely no scoffing will be allowed).
The Internet is encroaching big time into your territory. If newspapers and television and movie theatres are suffering, your back alley play practice has already lost the battle. Figure something out and start with organized religion.
You will fail. There will be so many failures you’ll have to fight to keep them from defining you. Then you’re going to be a failure. And you’ll let it be seen. You’ll invite strangers to see your most extravagant failings. Night after night.
Disagreements imply a deeper engagement than passive nodding. Trust the artists you work with because you know how good they are. Collective ideas are better than your best. Plan for pain in your work because when it stings, it means it matters. Then go to a cabin in Northern Minnesota to eat at one table and swim at midnight with your collaborators. And ask for what you need.
You’re going to feel slight nausea with some frequency. The best things in life, art, and creation are associated with this condition.
[Thanks to Anne Lamott and Wendell Berry for their textual inspiration]