What I Learned From Prince

purple rain

Dedication to the Craft

Not Self-Promotion

Flashback; Madonna at the Superbowl, and all her songs and her performance are about Madonna. We expect it. Our culture applauds her grandiose self-promotion.

Prince at the Superbowl, and he jams out other peoples’ songs. One gets the idea that he is more interested in music, for the sake of music, than in self-promotion.

The announcement of Prince’s death shocked the world. I read about it on the internet, then saw interview after interview on TV that night. Over and over again, people commented about what a humble guy Prince was. Was he? I don’t know, but one thing is certain, you can’t be that prolific without being completely dedicated to your craft. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to create and make music, then spend hours promoting yourself. I’m sure he hired people to promote him, but his overall attitude about it was different. He wasn’t, what I would call, an attention seeker. He was a fairly private, quiet guy but he had two things going for him:

  1. Talent
  2. Dedication

How Does This Apply to Writing

I’ve been writing all my life, but I never called myself a writer, just like I never called myself a breather. It was just something I did. When my allergies flare up, or I get a sinus infection, I can’t breath very well. I’m frustrated. When I don’t write, the same thing happens.

Somewhere along the line, I got the idea that I couldn’t call myself a writer until certain things happened. I had to be published, more than once, by a big publisher. I also had to provide proof to the world that I wrote, which meant that I would be writing for the benefit of my readers. People have asked to read my stuff for years. I generally say no, which probably makes zero sense to most people. I think what this proves is that I have dedication, but not necessarily talent, not in an exceptional way like Prince. When you have THAT much talent, you can’t hide it. Did he think he had talent? I don’t know, but if I thought I had talent maybe I would be more inclined to let others read my stuff. I’m not really sure.

I do not hold Prince up as an idol or model for much of anything else. For one thing, some of his records were so explicit that the recording industry had to come up with warning labels. I’m not interested in anybody else’s sexual expression. If that’s what they’re selling, I’m not buying. My choice. But, I will still admire and be intrigued by Prince’s individuality, and his talent, and his dedication to his craft. I don’t have his talent so if all I can do is focus more on what comes natural to me, I might be such a good breather…uh, writer….that it can’t be hidden anymore, and maybe…maybe….the talent part can be developed, but as Prince proved, some people are just born with it.






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