Since I personally know virtually none of my readers, I have no choice but to make things up about you. Otherwise, there’d be a blank space in my brain called
I have to, of course, put something in there, because if I didn’t, that empty part in my brain would cave in, and my head would be lop-sided, and I’ve got enough problems without that.
One of the things I make up about you is that at least a percentage of you have or, at one time, once had show business aspirations. I imagine this to be the case, I suppose, because many of my original readers – and this may still be the case – found me through Ken Levine’s scintillating blog, bykenlevine.com, which is primarily a blog about show business.
This supposition explains why I occasionally include posts about what show business is like, and why some people went into it and some, for one reason or another, did not. If I am off base in my evaluation of who exactly is out there, I can easily imagine such posts triggering responses like,
“Why is he telling us this? We’re welders, and we don’t care.”
I actually can’t imagine many welders staying with this blog, because there is nothing in it about welding. There is the possibility that this observation sells welders short – they may, in fact, welcome the occasional diversion from welding concerns – but my experience suggests otherwise. My dentist stopped reading my blog, because he thought it was for writers. At least, that’s what he said. I suspect he stopped reading it, because I rarely talked about dentists. And when I did, it was from a less than adulatory perspective.
This post presupposes that you are considering, or once considered, going into show business. I have to believe that the following is of, at least, partial interest; otherwise, I’d be obliged to write something else, which is tricky, because today, this is what my “Command System” has instructed me to write.
Okay. Stay or go. And already, I feel like I‘m losing the dentists. And the welders, perhaps, as well.
An oft-repeated truism is that, if someone decides to go into show business – the enterprise being uncertain at best – it is essential that they have “something to fall back on.”
My definitive response on this matter is:
I’m not so sure.
Which is as definitive as I generally get. Unless I’m speaking about cable news shows, in which case, I’m most likely too definitive. I hate them, and I’d like them all to go away. You see what I mean?
The argument in favor of show business aspirants having “something to fall back on” is that, should their career never happen, or at least not happen to a degree that permits them to buy food and other necessities, then they can fall back on some pre-arranged, sturdier career alternative, and not starve.
My older brother did that. He became a lawyer, and then went into show business, knowing that if he didn’t succeed, he could still be a lawyer. Which is exactly what happened.
Lawyers do not take umbrage at somebody “falling back” on their profession because their dreamed-of first choice didn’t pan out. They are not so easily insulted, unlike, say, a prom date, who knows you were hoping for a cheerleader, but wound up with a Debate Club nerdy girl instead. Lawyers also welcome the disgruntled “Second Choicers”, feeling that their hearts really aren’t in it, and they’ll be easier to beat.
The problem is, when people have “something to fall back on”, they often – and before, perhaps, it is entirely necessary –
Fall back on it.
And then they’re done.
In contrast to my brother – and I’m aware this is a one-family sample; I’m just sayin’… – having abandoned law school after five weeks, I entered show business with nothing to fall back on, other than homelessness, embarrassing my family, and being a permanent drain on the Canadian welfare system. Which are not things you want to fall back on. Because they’re terrible.
Show business – especially when you’re starting out – is an enormously challenging profession. Faced with the massive insecurity concerning to your future requires all the single-mindedness, energy and determination you can muster.
Nobody needs you in show business. Nobody’s going, “Where’s Earl?” The only reason you’re there is because you made the decision to give it a try.
But it’s hard. And frustrating. And discouraging. And often hideously unfair in its distribution of rewards.
“Him and not me? Give me a break!”
Which is exactly what you’re not getting.
With the inevitable pounding, the rejection, and the awareness that, as hard as you’ve tried, you are making little or no headway, if you have any available alternate career option, you may very well, and who in this world would blame you…
Having said that, if I had a kid, or a friend or relative, or a stranger seeking my advice on the matter, I would unquestionably advise them to develop a satisfactory “Plan B.” I would offer that advice, because I don’t want them coming back to me when they’re fifty saying,
“You told me, ‘Just go for it!’, and now, I’m living in a shelter, where my only connection to show business is when the stars volunteer at our ‘soup kitchen’ on Thanksgiving.”
I definitely don’t want that. I also know, that from a practical standpoint, having “something to fall back on” is the wise and reasonable thing to do.
“Wise and reasonable” notwithstanding, however, I have concerns about that “escape hatch” subtly undermining your “all in” efforts to make it.
Which is true for aspiring welders as well. *
* My pathetic effort at pandering.