That’s my wife’s new catch phrase it seems. I first noticed her using it a lot the other day, when we watched the Blind Boys of Alabama sing with the Oakridge Boys on Fox News. She said it sounded like, “A hot mess church choir.” She’s used the phrase of herself a couple times, to which I promptly inform her the only truth to that statement is the “hot” part.
Let me tell you about another hot mess, this time labeled so by me. De won some Josh Groban tickets to the opening show of his new tour. There was this… piano “player” who was the opening act. He played avant guarde classical style covers of pop/rock/alternative songs. He didn’t use a stool–just stuck one leg way behind him and leaned toward the piano. And he did this Dino thing where he’d turn and grin at the audience, playing without looking. At some point, his songs became rhythmic banging…and I’m convinced I could probably make some similar sound on the piano myself.
In short…it was a hot mess.
But this phenomenon has got me thinking. How does something like this happen? I mean, how does a hot mess get so popular?
There’s a few things happening, I think. First, there must be some legitimate talent there. I’m sure this guy can calm himself down and play in a rather refined manner. I have no doubt that greater undiscovered talent exists, but neither do I doubt he’s devoid of talent. Second, his success has less to do with talent and more to do with his confidence, though it seemed to have taken the form of pride. And third, the combination of the base talent and the confidence is the reason the audience responds to him. By the time he gets to the point he’s known enough to share a stage with Josh Groban, it’s all broken down into a hot mess. Will it last? If he stays a hot mess, probably not.
How can this be applied to writing? Well, obviously you have to have some base talent or you won’t go anywhere. But neither do you have to be the most talented. Do something unique and do it with confidence, and you’ll be noticed. I think many talented writers sit undiscovered because they lack the confidence to talk about themselves or their books. Telling others and being excited about your work is not prideful. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but pride is a heart issue. Talking about your work is a marketing issue.
So I think that writers with a base talent who have enough confidence to talk about their work, stand the best chance of being discovered.
Ah, but there’s a warning to my story too. That confidence can turn into pride. Your success might corrupt your heart attitude. If that happens, you’ll care less about your work and more about the audience. And when you care less about your work…you become a hot mess.
Have you seen it before? Talented musicians, writers, and filmmakers who have this amazing debut, and then their next project is like… what the? And they then end up on “Where Are They Now?” ten years later, if you even hear about them at all.
Don’t be that. Please.