So it's been over a year since my last blog post. Eh. Whatever.
Here's the skinny: I finished my first year in the Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program at NYU Tisch. It is basically the greatest thing in the history of the universe. My classmates and faculty advisers are wonderful, insanely talented individuals with whom I feel extremely privileged to work. I've continued making friends and connections in the New York City music and theater scenes and met scores of interesting folks. I wrote many many many songs, some of which are good.
But enough about me (I say as I write on this website that bears my name).
Now that the hectic pace of the school year has subsided and I begin work on my Thesis project for Year II (more to come on that topic later, I suspect), this seems as good a time as any to take a moment and reflect on exactly what I learned this past year. Originally I had planned to write an entire list of "Things I Learned This Year!" with irreverent descriptions and whatnot, but it inevitably ended up sounding a bit too "bloggish" for my taste, and if you want to read Buzzfeed, then just go read Buzzfeed. But for all the technical skills I've acquired and little life lessons I've learned this year, I feel like there's one realization I've finally fully accepted that's important enough to share, and that is as follows:
Your Success And Happiness Does Not Hinge On The Approval Of Any One Person Or Group
If you're anything like me, you probably spent much of your time as a young artist clamoring for the attention and validation of a particular individual or group. You think to yourself "If only I can get [prominent faculty member] or [prominent student organization] to sing my praises, then I'll know that I've MADE IT!" As you make the transition from being a student to being a young professional, this mindset becomes "If only I can get [prominent famous musician] or [prominent arts organization] to sing my praises, then I'll know that I've REALLY MADE IT!" I'm here today to tell you what it's near impossible to accept while you're struggling with these perceptions: Absolutely none of that matters.
Yes, we creative types have a tendency to voraciously crave validation. But deciding ahead of time which specific people you need validation from is a futile effort. There will be people you admire, respect, and look up to who will not like what you do. However, your biggest supporters may come from places you would never suspect. If you're creating the kind of stuff that YOU would get excited about, it's inevitable that someone else out there will be excited about it as well, and it doesn't matter whether it's your professor or your friend or Stephen Sondheim or [prominent whatever] or any or none of the above. If you're creating good work, you will find supporters, whether they're exactly who you would expect or not who you would expect at all.
And now to finish editing my scores for the first round of Thesis musical proposals coming up. Onward!
James K. Ballard
A sometimes insightful, hopefully entertaining look into my career and everyday life.