|Patti LuPone (center) as Madam Rose|
Over the past five months, I've devoted a large portion of my time to preparing for the upcoming auditions of GYPSY at my local community theater. If you're not familiar with this incredible American musical, GYPSY was first produced in the 1959 and is based on the autobiography of Gypsy Rose Lee, a world-renown strip tease artist from the 1930s and 40s. But the play isn't about Gypsy. Not really. It's about her mother, Madam Rose, whose fierce determination and loyalty to her daughters pushed Gypsy into stardom.
In one of the early scenes of the play, Rose tells her father that she's willing to do whatever it takes to get her daughters out of the hum drum life she's had to live. She wants more for them, and for herself, and so boldly tackles every challenge that comes her way. Some people don't like Rose and see her as a pushy, controlling stage mom. I see her as a woman of courage and resourcefulness. No matter how bad things get, she never stops believing that things will get better -- and never stops trying to make things better.
Madam Rose is a veritable fountain of good advice that, as a writer, I apply to my craft every day. Here are three of my favorite quotes and what they mean to me:
"Don't let the past discourage you."
Thomas Edison is one of my heroes. Why? Because he was a huge failure. He claimed to have failed over a 1,000 times before finding the right substance to use as a filament to invent the light bulb.He also held 1,093 patents -- many of them for inventions that simply didn't work. Failures. And yet Edison is one of the most successful inventors in history. Why? But he didn't let his past failures discourage him. He said, "Many of life's failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." As a writer, there are times when I want to give up -- after the 46th rejection letter or after yet another negative critique -- but how do I know that if I give up now, that the 47th letter might just be that big YES!
"You can do it. All you need is a hand."
None of us can succeed alone. Especially writers. Yes, we might write alone, secluded in our own little space, but to see that book all the way to the shelves requires an entire team of players. Friends and family to support and encourage you, your agent, editor, publisher, cover artist, book distributors and buyers, readers and a whole bunch of other people involved along the way. For me, God is number one. I love the verse in Luke 1:37 "For with God nothing shall be impossible." My mother raised me to believe that I could accomplish anything, if only I was willing to put in the effort needed to learn how.
"I at least gotta try!"
Have you ever heard of John Goddard? He's been referred to as the last great explorer. A real life Indiana Jones. When he was 15 years old he wrote out a list of 127 goals he wanted to accomplish in his life time (the list eventually grew to several hundred.) To date, he's accomplished all but 8 of these items which included visiting various countries, circumnavigating the globe, compose music, climb a pyramid, learn several languages, and many more. John has lived his life believing he could do anything. What did he have to lose by trying? John was a friend of my father's when I was in high school, and he was one of my mother's role models when she was growing up. So it was only natural that I was raised on John's stories and that my parents instilled in me a firm belief that I, too, could succeed at anything.
Have you ever written down your life list? Are there things you want to achieve in your life but lack the faith in yourself to accomplish them? If you haven't written them down, do it now. Then take one item on that list and write out a plan to get it done -- and don't stop until you've done it. I'd love to hear about some of your goals and the things that motivate you to succeed. Remember Madam Rose!