The Price Of Quitting

I was lucky enough to go to see Cabaret on Broadway this past December. The Emcee was played by Alan Cumming who, like me, is from Scotland.

I was absolutely transfixed by his performance and I couldn’t help being so very grateful that he had stuck with his talent through what must have been a challenging road from Carnoustie to Studio 54 in NYC, in part so that I, a total stranger, could experience a few moments of joy.

(Is there a reader out there, waiting for your story?)

It struck me:

  • What if he had decided not to leave home to go to theater school because it was too far away?
  • What if he had quit after a failed audition?
  • What if he had cared about all those people who make fun of boys who like the theater?
  • What if he had been scared to sing in public that first time?
  • What if he had let bad reviews get to him?
  • What if he had decided coming back to Broadway all these years later, would make him look foolish?
  • What if he had decided not to work so hard, to be mediocre, to be lazy because artistic success is difficult and chancy and really, why not just be cynical about it instead of working hard?

If he had let all those doubts, naysayers, fears and nerves gang up on him, I would have missed out on an absolutely transcendent moment.

Alan Cumming can’t possibly know what my trip to NYC and the fabulous performances in that show meant to me (unless he’s reading this. Hi, Alan!). But he did his bit, for 35 or so years, to become the performer he is today, and I thank him for that.

Where Do Your Talents Lie?

Do you understand that you can’t know who your stories will touch?

Are you brave enough to write the best stories you can, the truest stories you can muster, and put them out into the world to find their audience?

Are you strong enough to keep writing, year after year, using your gifts just for their own sake?

I hope so.

Because you never know who is out there, needing to hear your story.

1 thought on “The Price Of Quitting”

  1. Thinking about this again today, now that Sir Terry Pratchett has left us. I was SO upset in 2001 when my childhood literary crush, Douglas Adams, died. I was more than upset, though. I was kind of angry that he hadn’t written more of his brilliant fiction (as it turned out he had written a lot, just not always in novel form. I had totally missed that the Doctor Who I was raised on was largely Adams-authored, and then there was all that brilliant non-fiction…).

    At least today I can console myself with the very large stack of novels, ideas and characters Terry Pratchett leaves in his wake. Another 20-30 years of prolific output would have been welcome (yes, I’m greedy), but at least we have as much as we have.

    What if someone out there feels this way about your writing, your ideas, your words? Wouldn’t they wish you had started earlier and quit later?

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