Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Yo! The Master's Here

   An old saying goes, ‘When the Student is ready the Master will appear.’ I know this to be true because I’ve had several masters appear over the years and I told them all to ‘Get Lost.’

   Now, why did I do this? Well, the answer is I didn’t recognize them as masters at the time. Plus I was young, stupid and an egomaniac. Really didn’t believe that anyone had anything to teach me that I couldn’t figure out for myself.

   I began drawing at a young age which really wasn’t all that remarkable as my mother was a professional artist and I saw her drawing and painting all the time and it looked like fun. So I started writing and drawing my own comic book superheroes and since my friends read and liked them, I got to thinking I was pretty hot stuff.

   Actually, I still do.

   But I digress.

   Anyway, eventually I brought one of my latest and most popular comic creations to my mother fully expecting her to oooh and ahhh.

   She did not. Instead she carefully studied them and when finished, called me over. She said I did a nice job but then instructed me about perspective, shadowing, and human anatomy. I remember seething over the fact that she was pointing out flaws instead of telling me how remarkable my work was.

   Now you might say I was only a kid and needed parental approval more than art instruction but you’d be wrong, primarily because you don’t get to choose when the master appears. He or she appears whenever you are ready talent-wise. Your personal feelings or ego doesn’t factor into it.

  Strangely, I didn’t learn that until I was in my thirties!

   Fast forward years later. At sixteen I began hanging out with the musicians in Greenwich Village. Over the next few years I became a respected singer-songwriter and was getting steady work. Unfortunately I was more into the attention, accolades and women than I was on perfecting my craft.

   I remember being in a bar late one night following a gig. I was hanging with my musician buddies when this guy comes over and tells me that he saw my set and thought my songs were ‘quite good— a bit stiff and muscled—he added, but still ‘quite good’.

   Well I bristled and sez to him, “What makes you think that you’re so good, you’re qualified to critique my work?”  So he sez, “Well let’s step outside and I’ll prove it to ya! So I grab my guitar and follow him out the door as my buddies whistled the theme from ‘The Good the Bad and the Ugly.’  

   When we get outside he takes out his guitar and starts playing one of his songs and frankly I was stunned. The guy was Lennon-McCartney good, Jagger-Richards good, Elton John good.

   So we became friends and he pointed out where, in my songs, I had gone off track. He quoted the old saying, ‘Great art is a collaboration between God and man and the less man does the better,” and showed me in a number of popular songs how the pattern begun in the start of the song, changed in subtle ways throughout that kept it fresh and interesting to the end. A skill I had not yet mastered and one I would refuse to learn until years later.

   And not only was he absolutely right about the music, he was absolutely right about all forms of endeavors.

   Which brings me to this point.

   Becoming a great anything requires getting into the ring and getting your ass handed to you the first few times. You’re going to get hurt by the people who already acquired the skills you’re looking to get for yourself. That’s the price you pay to get what you want.

   Now as for me, I know how to write a novel. I’ve written several and all have received positive reviews. I know how to make a video book trailer, how to design a book cover, how to narrate an audio book, how to speak before an audience and hold their attention.

   But I do not know how to market and sell my work. So to remedy that I’ve joined a successful marketing group that has been teaching me through a number of video seminars precisely what I must do to get readers interested enough in my work to buy my books.

   This time I’m shutting up, listening and making sure the masters stay put.

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