Words for Writers and Other Artists from The Juilliard School’s Commencement Speech
“It’s not about you. This can be a particularly hard, and humbling lesson to face – and it’s one I’ve had to continue to learn at every stage of my own journey – but this is a freeing and empowering truth. You may not yet realize it, but you haven’t signed up for a life of glory and adulation (although that MAY well come, and I wish with every fiber of my being, that it WILL come in the right form for every single one of you – however, that is not your destination, for glory is always transitory and will surely disappear just as fleetingly and arbitrarily as it arrived.) The truth is, you have signed up for a life of service by going into the Arts. And the life-altering results of that service in other people’s lives will NEVER disappear as fame unquestionably will. You are here to serve the words, the director, the melody, the author, the chord progression, the choreographer ~ but above all and most importantly, with every breath, step, and stroke of the keyboard, you are here to serve humanity.”
The entire speech is, I think, worth considering because it applies to all of us in the arts. What is the intent of any book, painting, ballet or symphony: to have an impact upon the one for whom it’s intended.
That’s why we write. It’s not to draw attention to ourselves, but to tell a story that has meaning to people whom we usually never know.