What I Learned from B.B. King about Writing and Life by Rochelle Melander
26 May 2015
Would you like to share your new book with thousands? I’m offering a rare opportunity for authors to guest blog for me this summer. I’m looking for authors who’d like to share their favorite reads or a writing tip as well as offer one of their books for a giveaway. If you’re up for the challenge, send me an email.
Today’s tip honors the great B.B. King, who died May 14, 2015 at the age of 89. I was fortunate to see him perform in 2013, and I learned many lessons from this great musician.
Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach
I never use that word, retire. —B.B. King
In 2013, I attended a B. B. King concert at the Riverside Theater. As the night began, King shouted: “I’m B. B. King, and I’m 87 years old!” Then he launched into a song with his deep baritone voice. Most musicians entertain, but B.B. King did more than that. He schooled me about life. I’m happy to pass on those lessons to you:
1. Do not let your age define you. In our age-obsessed culture, we need to learn this lesson repeatedly. No matter what your age, no doubt someone has told you it’s wrong—too old or too young—for what you want to do. When I was in my 20s, many more experienced people from my profession told me I was too young to have important ideas or write books. Just a few years later, in my early 30s, some of my colleagues told me I was too old. Wow, from young and useless to old and washed up in just five years!
I love what the Indigo Girls say about this in their song, Go:
Did they tell you, you would come undone
When you try to touch the sun
Undermine the underground
You’re too old to care
You’re too young to count
(Amy Ray, GO, Indigo Girls)
Life Lesson #1: Stop using your age as an excuse. If you really want to do something, do it.
2. Get a great team. When B. B. King came to sing, he brought a band that rocked. Literally. Every member of his band could (and did) play solo. Together, backing up B. B., the sound was magnificent. None of us can do it alone. Writers need colleagues, critique group partners, editors and more. When I look at my writing career past and present, I am constantly grateful for the people who have supported and comforted me along the way.
Life Lesson #2: Look around. Do you have writing colleagues to support you? If so, say thank you! If not, join a critique group or writing circle.
3. Have fun. At the end of the night, B. B. King said, “I have a curfew and I’ve already gone past it, but I’m having so much fun.” And he was. His whole body radiated joy. I don’t always feel that way when I’m writing. Sometimes writing feels like slogging through knee-deep mud. But I also have moments when I’m so engaged in the writing, I don’t want to stop. I feel like a kid at the playground who can’t understand why it’s time to go home. In those moments, writing feels so absolutely right that I cannot image doing anything else.
Life Lesson #3: Doing what you love won’t be fun every day, but it also won’t be a drag. If you’re not having fun, poke around at why. Maybe you need to be working on a different project? Maybe you need to lower your expectations or slow down? Once you figure out what’s not working, you can get to what is working again and enjoy it!
Rock on, writers!