Tuesday, February 3, 2009

When have you 'arrived'?

In my pursuit to be excellent in my field I spend a great deal of time studying the lives and careers of excellent people. I enjoy pioneers and famous people. By that I don't mean the latest "tabloid tartlette" but rather great performers who have stood the test of time.

One of those is Billy Joel.

I was watching part of a documentary put out the summer of 2008 where he recounted his breakout album 'The Stranger'.

I have been a huge Billy Joel fan since...well, since Piano Man came out [the song] which I think was some time around Kindergarten or first grade for me. I've always been intrigued by the swing and flow of Billy Joel's songs [and I really enjoyed the show "Bosom Buddies" which had a Billy Joel song during the opening credits].

He had a great way of creating a story out of a song. His songs Lenningrad, Noreastern Alexa, Piano Man, Don't forget your second wind, Goodnight Saigon...well, a good number of his songs, drew us in to the lives of people we knew. We felt we experienced these songs. We lived these songs.

So I was surprised to learn that "The Stranger" was a surprise hit, and Joel's 5th album.

I wondered how he had felt when he signed with his label in the years leading up to that career changing work. I imagine it had to be the same way most writers feel with their first book deal. But what separates an amazing career like Billy Joel from many writers is they see that first deal as a sign that they're there. They've arrived. They no longer need to learn, nor do they need to grow.

If you look at great writers and performers you'll see that the voice always stays recognizable, but the craft grows. They realize that there is no such thing as "Arriving". Former Press Secretary Tony Snow said as much after he was named Press Secretary to President Bush.

So what does it actually mean to arrive?

I think that arriving is when you come to the place where you're so comfortable with your own unique writer's voice that you're able to begin to let it mature without fear that you'll lose it totally. I think it is when you stop sounding like a conglomeration of your favorite authors and you begin to sound like yourself.

I think it is when you become fully teachable.

Have you arrived?

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.
She writes a blog for the Christian writer Tuesdays at Writer's Rest.

No comments: