How La La Land Inspires Writers and Artists

Have you seen La La Land? You should. It will inspire you. Here’s why:

Writers and artists can be sensitive people, right? We tack our work up on the wall for everyone to judge and hope someone, anyone, even if they’re in the back of the room, gets what we were trying to do. It’s hard when we hear whispers and a few giggles. It’s all the H words; humbling, humiliating, horrifying and hell. So why do we keep doing it? Because of all the P words. It’s our passion. The potential to reach the precipitous peak of all our pleasurable dreams by perseverance would be pure paradise. Okay, so I’m pushing it.

la-la-land

La La Land is a vibrant musical film. It shows how Hollywood can suck hope from a person unless they’re willing to take a risk and persevere through all those H words.

The following paragraph includes SPOILERS: I watched Mia, played by Emma Stone, appear in front of stoney-faced production heads while she auditioned her heart out. Time after time, she faced rejections. Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling, sells out to play his piano just about anywhere, even though his heart belongs to jazz. The odds are against them.

Three things really hit me:

A teacher at Icon Collective Music Production School recently told my son, Kelly, all artists face horrible rejection at some point. Most give up. Successful artists persevere, take risks, and follow their passion no matter what happens.

The second takeaway? Support. Surrounding yourself with people who “get what you’re trying to do,” is imperative. We have to make the effort to find them. All it takes is one.

The last message I got from the movie was about sacrifice and choices.  Sometimes we have to choose what’s uncomfortable in order to grow as an artist. Following a passion may not be convenient and can be isolating. Most of us won’t be faced with the choices Mia and Sebastian had to make, but I think the message in the ending was clear.

SPOILER ALERT! They chose their passion over passion. Watch the movie and you’ll see what I mean.

End of spoilers.

la_la_land_film

The irony of La La Land? It took all those P words and six years in order to make this film, according to writer and director, Damian Chazelle. No one believed a musical would make any money. He said this while accepting awards on stage at the Golden Globes. His film took seven of them, including Best Picture. He embodied his film’s message. He dedicated his first award “to all the musical theater geeks out there.”

Watching this movie after posting about my failed resolutions really hit me.

As a writer, rejections pile up. Writing books, screenplays, and blog posts take most of my free time. I’ve already faced cancer and freaked out over how short life can be. I asked myself point blank. “Is this really how I want to spend the rest of it?”

In that moment, I wondered what life would have been like if I hadn’t started writing almost six years ago. No books. No screenplays. No blogging communities or conferences or writer friends. There are other ways I could create, after all, I graduated in art, but it comes down to passion. I couldn’t imagine that alternate universe. I love writing. I can’t give it up.

So bring it on, H words! I will continue to ignore the whispers and giggles. It’s part of the process of following my passion. I’ll reach that precipitous peak, someday.

Have you seen La La Land? What’s your passion? Do you eat popcorn with or without butter?

76 thoughts on “How La La Land Inspires Writers and Artists

  1. Beautiful post, inspiring! It sure isn’t all rainbows and butterflies but there’s so much reward in being part of any kind of art universe! My journey has barely begun so I can’t exactly talk about many struggles but I’m not burying my head in the sand, I know it won’t be easy and I’m going to have to hold on. But I’m not letting go because, as you said, I can’t imagine my existence without music!

    Like

  2. I’m so happy this movie is getting awards. I can’t wait to see it. My passions have always been writing, singing, and playing piano. Rejection is a huge part of being a creative person. For me, it’s hard not to take it personally when I feel like I’m putting my true self “out there” for people to trample all over. Maybe I should write a musical?

    Like

    • I bet you’ll love La La Land. I grew up watching musicals on TV. You should write one! Call it, “Darla’s Big Dream.” I would come!

      Most people can’t separate themselves from their creative work, so they get discouraged. I’m probably at an advantage since I just started writing. I have lower expectations and I know I have a lot to learn. I figure, if I want others to enjoy my work someday, I better learn what readers like. I would rather toughen up my hide, face rejections now, and improve on my projects before they’re in print.

      In an ironic twist to this post, my screenwriting partner received an email last night. There’s a big demand for the genre of our script, so we sent it out last night. Ha! We’ve had a few nibbles over the last two years, so I’ll cross my fingers and toes, once again…

      Let me know what you think about the movie!

      Like

      • Susie, you have loads of tenacity plus solid writing skills. You have a good chance of success.

        My problem is that I have original ideas and can write the outline for the screenplay, but I don’t follow through with the actual writing part. I think that might be the missing key for me…?

        Like

        • Thanks, Darla! There will always be room for improvement with those skills. So much to learn, so little time. I do have tenacity. Think of me like a little ankle-biter who won’t let go. Ha!
          Take a class. It will jumpstart your project. I don’t outline at all. Ha!

          Like

  3. Hi! I’ve been thinking about how I define success for myself. Your post reminded me how much I don’t like the rollercoaster of accolade highs, and rejection lows. Feels too much like a drug to me–a bad one. Instead, I want to delight in the practice of writing, not in people’s reactions to it. I’m not saying I don’t want people to enjoy what I put in the world, I just don’t want MY enjoyment of it to be affected by how others feel–good or bad. I like the message of La La Land, both the storyline and what it took to make it. Perseverance, because passion, not praise, drives me forward is a 2017 Intention for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s hard not to be affected by rejection especially when it means a HUGE step forward, but I agree. I won’t let it stop me from doing what I love. My enjoyment is in the presence of writing, not in waiting for feedback. I measure success in the rejections that include new ideas or perspective. Then I go back to work.

      The cool thing about novel writing as apposed to screenwriting or acting is we can always self-publish or not publish at all. We have a choice like Mia’s one-woman show!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You are right to keep your passion alive, but whether or not you ever reach your writing pinnacle, as far as I’m concerned, if they had a Golden Globe for drawing, you would have been up on that stage.

    With.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awww! Thanks Al! Wow!
      And you, my friend, would get a Golden Globe for living life large! You really inspired me to schedule more free time. So far, so good…
      Maybe someday, I will illustrate one of my stories. Here’s to keeping that passion alive! *clink*

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You hooked me with “The potential to reach the precipitous peak…” When I’m not writing (trying to write, trying not to get frustrated because I can’t write, and trying to write again after convincing myself I can’t write) I love to hike and travel. Hard to ignore the whispers and giggles when they are coming from my own inner-editor as well.

    But you’re absolutely right. Writing is the right thing for me to do. I love it. Even when it doesn’t love me.

    Like

    • Hey, Gabriel!
      That inner editor can be sassy. I’m working on turning down its volume this year. Wish me luck!

      Writers, work in a vacuum, isolated. Like anyone in a creative craft, we have to open ourselves up to criticism for without it we won’t improve. It’s easy to get discouraged. BUT If you love what you’re doing, then you’re on the right track in your life. How lucky is that?

      For those who truly find success, it’s never easy. Neil Gaiman got one of his first books published here in the States. He was asked to rewrite Neverwhere since the majority of Americans wouldn’t know anything about London. It was a major undertaking, but he did the work.

      Enjoy your hiking and travel adventures this year! I hope you find that volume knob.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I actually haven’t seen the movie – yet. That might be the reason why I tried to dodge all spoilers. Thanks for the alerts. Great Post & Very Enjoyable To Read. I had been doubting whether to see it or not, but your post convinced me now that I will definitely see it – once I finish all my exams! Thankyou! 🙂 🙂
    (check out my blog – if you don’t mind. I’d really apreciate it)

    Like

    • I definitely think of blogging like that and then I remember that all writing is practice. It organizes our thoughts. I love writing short essays and the instant gratification of feedback. When something doesn’t float, the sound of crickets rises up from the comment section.
      Thanks for stopping by, Paul!

      Like

      • You have to enjoy the process of writing and some forms are lonelier than others. I first wanted to write long-form books but I’ve gravitated more towards essays and short humor because of the instant feedback and community. I’ve increasingly steered clear of writing projects with no clear deadlines and no community. I like blogging because I get instant feedback and can be part of a community. I like stand-up comedy because I can write today and perform tonight and I’m part of a community of comic friends.

        Like

        • That’s so great that you recognize what works for you and brings you the most happiness. You are so good at what you do! I think the isolation is the worst part for me. This year, I’m taking more breaks and plan to get out of the house, daily. So far, so good! It has changed my outlook and I’m still getting a ton of writing done.
          Let me know if you’re ever on the Comedy Club circuit that comes to Denver/Boulder!

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Looking forward to seeing this movie, which is quite a thing for me to say because I rarely go to the movies. I agree about learning to follow your passion, regardless of what you have to give up along the way. Some people will never get creativity…

    Like

    • We don’t go to the movies very often either. I hope you enjoy the film as much as I did, Ally! I could relate. Ha!

      Most people take the rejections personally. We have to keep reminding ourselves that it’s a craft that can be improved on. We’re all far from perfect and the critique comes from a specific point of view. Appealing to a larger audience takes a ton of skill, but the sky’s the limit! Gee, that reminds me of one La La Land’s scenes…
      Let me know what you think of it!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ll have to come back and read your post after it finally gets to my island. Our theater only shows 2 movies and sometimes has to keep a movie like Rogue One for two or three weeks. LaLaLand should be here soon. So glad Emma won, and they made a sweet at the GG’s.

    Like

    • With your daughter in theater, I think you will relate, Ted. It was like an old-fashioned movie musical, but with great CGI. I’m so glad it was recognized Sunday night. It gave all artists hope. Let me know what you think! Happy Tuesday!

      Like

  9. I consider my stained glass work to be art, not a craft. I love creating original designs and challenging myself each time on how to accomplish something a bit different than I’ve done before. And I love writing for my blog. It’s uncomfortable for me to put my stuff out there. It seems so egotistical, like I’m saying, “Look what I’ve done! Isn’t it great?” So I try to approach it as, “Here’s something I created. I’m pleased with it and maybe you will be, too.” I’m not actively trying to sell anything, though, so I suppose that affects my point of view. I admire anyone who follows their passion regardless of the whispers and giggles. Thanks for the encouraging post.

    Like

    • Thanks for the comment, Maggie!
      I agree about art and creativity. If we’re putting something out there that didn’t exist before, it should be considered art.
      The egotistical side of marketing our “wares” makes me uncomfortable too. On the one hand, I’m all about sharing everything! But I have to forget about those who cringe when I blog and one day, it will be my books. My work will never be for everybody. I’m creating because I enjoy the process!
      Let me know what you think of the movie!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. No, but now I can’t wait to see it! Health is my most prominent passion. And with butter, put in the middle if possible, definitely!!!!

    Like

    • Wow. That’s intense. Visions are great, but to be ruthlessness connotes a self-serving, cut-throat attitude. I don’t think a writer can be successful without empathy. So, do you think the good guy finishes last?

      Like

      • Do you believe that Neil Gaiman just rolled over when he was told to rewrite hist first book?

        There is so much that goes on behind a curtain that fans will never pierce, no matter what their “star” says in public. That’s just publicity.

        I work mostly in the music industry. Industry is the key word. It’s about making money. It’s hardball. And, yes. It’s intense. Our tour manager says that she expects to be screwed over 16 hours a day when we are touring. It is just what it is.

        Google Peter Grant, the late music manager who brought Led Zepplin to fame and pretty much changed the touring business forever. See what he did. There is very little difference in the publishing industry.

        Finishing is simply a component of luck and timing. That said, as Neil Young says, don’t be denied. No matter what you think of his work, he is as ruthless as they come. Yes. It is self-serving. No denying that.

        One more thing.

        All those agents who gave you tips… all they really did was thin out YOUR vision. After all, they ain’t repping you, right? Re-writes or (in our case) remixes are great, but after a time you end up going in circles

        Like

        • Geez! Ha! I Love this discussion. Finishing is a component of hard work and sacrifice with a little bit of luck thrown in to know when it’s done. The publishing industry is beyond my comprehension and control. The tips I got really improved, strengthened and gave clarity to my vision. Of course to say they were tips could be a stretch. They were specific comments about my book that kept them from making a connection, so I dove into craft and learning how to connect readers. It’s those first few pages that do all the work in pulling you into the story. Every one of them helped me in some way. The problem with books is the author knows the characters, but the reader doesn’t. After a while, it’s hard to read the beginning objectively. One sentence can reveal volumes and so I’ve tweaked it. I’ll soon find out if it made a difference.
          Music is so much shorter and easy to overwork. It reminds me of drawing portraits. I would get the likeness, but had to know when to quit.
          The music industry like most creative fields sounds tough. Wish me luck. I’ve been pretty lucky so far!

          Like

      • That wasn’t you dangling of the ski lift at Arapaho basin, was it?

        ‘OMG! LMFAO… No! No’ no’ no’ ‘what were you ever paying attention to in those art classes in college woman? Wait you better not answer that one…’

        ‘Churned bovine lactate’ now that’s just ‘Hot’… Still LMFAO…

        Like

  11. Very inspiring post, Susie. I think without the passion for one’s art there would be little reason to continue. There are so many very good reasons to quit and most start with H as you have pointed out. Thanks for the words today.

    Like

  12. I can’t wait to see this movie! Not knowing a lot about it I was surprised about the awards sweep. Now I need it to live up to the hype. If you say I won’t be disappointed then I am confident I won’t be disappointed.

    Like

  13. Duuuuuuuuuude I have plans to see this on Friday! I was actually going to watch it the week after we saw Rogue One, but the Indie Theater we go to was like we’re not going to have it here until the 10th, but it’s already playing everywhere else. And you see Susie … the problem with everywhere else is the parking and the crowds and just … the crowds. I was like I’ll wait … even if it doesn’t win any awards … I’ll wait. I’ll wait for anything Ryan Gosling is in … I soooooo love him 🙂 In any case I read parts of your post not all because of your Spoiler Alert but I’ll be back to read the full post after Friday 🙂 I really like watching movies that inspire writers, or artists, totally makes me wake up and feel like I’m gonna get that “Congratulations” letter in the mail 🙂

    Like

    • That’s exactly how I felt! It inspired me in so many ways. It was a great way to start the new year! I hope you enjoy as much as I did. I mean, Gosling, at his BEST! Who knew, is all I’m going to say. Let me know what you think!!!

      Like

  14. I’m sure this was a wonderful, uplifting post as usual, Susie, but I couldn’t read past “spoiler alert” since I haven’t seen the movie yet. I’ll get back to you after I do. 🙂

    Like

  15. Wife and I just saw it yesterday–and it is truly an incredible, MAGICAL film! We talk about how artists have it so rough, but really this applies to any ability or occupation that anyone is good at or wants to be good at: other things in your life ARE going to suffer. RELATIONSHIPS are going to suffer. We all have to make choices…you just cannot “have it all.” And “suffer” may not be the appropriate term…but if you spend xx number of hours doing one thing…you only have so many other others to do anything else. Make your choice, Horatio….

    Like

    • Right on! It’s perfect timing for setting goals. So many people say they have a book they want to write, but most won’t make the sacrifices. On top of that, it also means taking risks. It’s all about the fire in our bellies. If we keep stoking it, we’ll have the power to keep moving ahead, no matter what happens!
      Thanks for stopping by, Frank!

      Like

  16. Popcorn with butter in the theater… but really prefer Chicago mix style popcorn – cheese popcorn and caramel popcorn. Yum. I love the advice your son got – it’s great advice for everyone. Coming out of school many kids are not ready for the struggle of life. Some of us are excellent at persevering and others are not. I haven’t seen the movie, yet. Passion, Per.severance, Purpose, Popcorn – P words. and Peace

    Like

    • Peace to you, Clay!
      It was about all those P words. The movie itself persevered. It took more than five years to make! No one wanted to produce a movie musical and look at all the awards it took home. I bet more than a few people are kicking themselves now.
      Have a great week!

      Like

  17. Hi Susie! I hope that your 2017 will be a wonderful year! No, I haven’t seen La La Land yet. Funny, for eons I have referred to Los Angeles as La La Land. Who knew? And yes, my popcorn has to have butter! Have a great week girl! ((Hugs)) 🙂

    Like

    • You are ahead of the curve, Karen! I hope your New Year is completely amazing! Thanks for all the blog support.
      If you see La La Land, let me know what you think. It hit all of my inspiration cylinders like rocket fuel!

      Like

    • Thank you so much! I was born sunny side up, so it’s always been pretty easy for me. I’m trying to give people hope in a world that has become super negative.
      I hope you’ll stop by again. 🙂

      Like

  18. I took myself to see this last weekend and really loved it. I’m a huge musical fan, so I suppose that contributed to my admiration of the film, but I think so many of the themes and messages in the film are universal (and that opening scene was enough to win me over from the start). I too am trying to follow my passion in the form of my blog, since my passion is writing and creating (anything, really). While I prefer butter with my popcorn, my waistline does not, so I take a minimalist approach when it comes to popcorn 🙂

    Like

  19. Loved the movie – just thought it was light hearted and refreshing and yet still an homage to the great musicals of the past. Emma Stone was particularly good and I thought the score and cinematography were amazing! ❤ Buttered popcorn FTW every time! SO much more flavour 💗

    Like

  20. Hey Susie, thank you for this wonderful blog post. I’m an artist myself (musical theatre actress) and have seen the movie in cinema four times alone. And why? Because it feels like being among friends. Because it feels like that bit of support you need as an artist to fuel your P words and care less about those H words. 🙂

    Like

  21. Thank you so much for this. I have recently started a blog, and after years of being an editor I am now on the other side, and finally know the terror of putting your work out there. It can be hell! I have already been tempted to pack it in, but this post and your advice for new bloggers has given me new confidence. I need to be patient and trust that in time I will find the community and connections I’m hoping for. And I’d forgotten about this movie, which was one of the things that kicked me into starting. I absolutely love that they chose their passion at the end, and it was not shown as a sacrifice. This week I stuck these words (from Elizabeth Gilbert) above my computer: “Keep gambling everything for creativity and an exploratory life of the mind.” So I’ll keep at it. Thank you 🙂

    Like

Leave a Wild thought. Someone may click to your blog!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s