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.

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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.

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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

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  1. 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 🙂

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  2. 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 💗

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  3. 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. 🙂

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  4. 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 🙂

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