Your desperation is showing and Ava DuVernay wants you to knock it off!
I wanted to share something with you that really hit home for me. It's a keynote speech by film director Ava DuVernay where she discusses what was the driving force behind her obtaining the success she deserved. As a poet who yearns to have a booming career filled with endless tour dates, workshop facilitation opportunities and an overall sense of satisfaction when it comes to my work, I devoured every word of this speech. Yes, she is talking about filmmaking but the wisdom she imparts about the journey to succeeding is universal and can be applied to any and all art forms.
One of the many things she said that stuck out during this speech was: "The only thing that moves you forward is your work". She emphasized the importance of having a body of work to begin with. You can not be a successful filmmaker without making films, you can not be a successful song writer without writing songs and you can not be a successful artist in general if you are not creating art to begin with.
DuVernay talked about the way her desperation was the thing that was getting in her way. When she'd meet someone who could potentially give her a push or a nugget of wisdom she'd be so desperate to take them to coffee and "pick their brain" about how she could get her foot in the door. When I heard her saying these things I sat up ramrod straight in my ikea desk chair with my mouth gaping wide open because just last week I had sent a Facebook message to someone who is very well connected and knowledgeable within the poetry community. I too had proposed coffee or lunch so that I could "pick their brain", I too was desperate. Holy cow! Talk about a revelation.
The thing is, I'm a poet. Ask me to write a poem and I got you. However, I have no clue about the business aspects of things and so to me it made perfect sense that I would need a mentor. That I would be lost without some halo wearing being to guide me. I mean, what do I know about planning and promoting a national tour or running a workshop or any of the other gazillion things that go into the business side of being an artist? Absolutely nothing is what. So to me it seemed like trying to get information from someone who may have these answers was, well... the answer. But I've got to agree with DuVernay, it's time to knock it off.
Sure there are some things I won't be able to do on my own without getting a bit of assistance from those who have been there and done that, but at the end of the day it's my career, my work and my brand on the line so it should be handled my way. I have no clue still about how to plan a tour or do a workshop and who knows what else but who cares. I'll figure it out, after all I had no idea how to create and publish a poetry book (thank goodness for youtube tutorials!) but I put my mind to it, researched a LOT, made mistakes here and there but at the end of the day I managed to make something I am proud of. And I did it on my own.
So to anyone who is struggling with a lack of success or maybe you're just starting out and you're a little bit clueless about what you should do; watch this video. Ava DuVernay really opened my eyes to what is holding me back (in case you weren't following, that would be my desperation to have someone "help" me by giving me all the answers) and gave an excellent speech in the process. I hope you will get something special out of this video, I know I did.
I'll leave you with one more amazing quote from this keynote speech:
"When that feeling of yearning is coupled with action it's not desperation, it's passion." -Ava DuVernay
Here's to cultivating our passion and embracing the success we've always dreamed of!