Taylor and Katy (and me?)

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More than once, I have joked that I wanted to be the Taylor Swift of writing. Meaning that I wanted to become a hot-shot novelist in my teens (and ideally continue to put out hits for the rest of my life). Obviously my teens have come and gone and that didn’t happen. But it’s all good. Maybe I can be the Katy Perry of writing instead?

Recently I watched both Taylor and Katy’s biopic/concert movies, and I came to some realizations:

  1. They work really hard. Yes, they’re doing what they love, and the’ve managed to become rich and famous from it. But that doesn’t take anything away from all the heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears they put into their music. And in addition to the singing and songwriting, they spend a lot of time designing their concerts, rehearsing and performing and marketing their work, connecting with fans, and making decisions that impact the dozens (if not hundreds) of people in their employ. They are in fact young businesswomen. It’s impressive, humbling, and inspiring.
  2. They have achieved a lot of success at very young ages, but it didn’t happen overnight. Both struggled to be taken seriously, to be allowed to express themselves in the way that they wanted. At one point, Taylor walked away from a good opportunity with a major record label because she believed that she could do better. She ended up taking a chance on a startup, and together they skyrocketed to the top. (Guts!) Katy spent years bouncing between record labels, all of whom knew she was talented but weren’t sure how to market her and thus were reluctant to invest. Despite the frustrations, she always went back to the music, writing songs and playing gigs until finally someone decided to back her all the way — and even handed her the reins. (Perseverance!)
  3. I think part of what appeals to people (certainly to me) about their music is how much of themselves they put into it. Their personal experiences, their emotions, their style. Taylor is infamous for writing about her famous ex-boyfriends, and Katy makes no secret that many of her recent hits are about her the ups and downs of her relationship with Russell Brand. Some people think that’s tacky; I think it’s brave and endearing. I can relate to their excitement, their doubts, their hopes, their heartaches. And it makes their songs stand out from some of the more generic stuff.
  4. As much as I might joke about wanting to be the Taylor or Katy of writing — and as many similarities as there may be between our dreams (artistry, storytelling, entertaining the masses, etc.) — one key difference is that being a pop star usually requires a youthful appeal. They probably have a limited window of opportunity for mainstream success, whereas writers are not judged by the marketability of their faces/bodies, but by the quality marketability of their stories.
  5. At one point, Katy’s sister talks about how people were trying to get Katy to be the next Britney, or the next Avril, or whoever, and how she never wanted to be the next anybody. She wanted to be the first Katy. Good point. I don’t want to be the next JK Rowling, the next Stephenie Meyer, or the next Suzanne Collins. I want to be the first Kristan.

8 responses to “Taylor and Katy (and me?)”

  1. Mieke Zamora-Mackay Avatar

    And you will be, Kristan!

  2. Anthony Lee Collins Avatar

    I read an article about Taylor Swift once, and you’re right that she works hard. Whenever she does a radio appearance, she sends a handwritten “Thank you” card afterwards (that’s just one example).

    I think #3 is key, really. You can’t tailor what you do to some idea of what’s popular or what’s going to be popular next year. You have to do the best you can at what you want to do, and realize that there’s a lot of random chance in what happens next.

  3. Becky Wallace Avatar

    I guess I can be the next…yeah…I wish I could think of some singer who made their mark once they crossed the big 3-0. Gosh, that makes me feel old!

    You bring up some fantastic points about the incredible amount of hard work that is required to do something BIG (I believe writing a novel is BIG). And it’s still work even if you love doing it!

  4. Shari Avatar

    I think all of these points are important, but especially #3 — when an artist (of whatever genre) puts heart & soul into a work, you can just tell. It stands out in the best way.

    Looking forward to reading many books from the first Kristan! :D

  5. Meghan Ward Avatar

    You ARE the next Kristan! Already! For me, #1 is key. Really really hard work. I have become a lazy writer lately, and I need to get back to the hard work that makes writers great. Maybe for someone else, that isn’t an issue.

  6. Kristan Avatar

    Thanks for the votes of confidence, guys!

    It’s that kind of personal touch, that extra mile, that really impressed me about her.

    I’m sure there are plenty — although probably some of them have claimed to be younger. ;)

    HAH I know what you mean. I actually don’t mind hard work — what’s tough for me is all the hard work you put in without seeing any results for such a long time. But that’s just part of this biz, I suppose.

  7. Jonathan Avatar

    You know what they say, “overnight success after seven years.” It’s true. No one really good ever makes it without years of practice. You’re totally right.

  8. Juliann Avatar

    I saw these movies, too, and am impressed and inspired by how they pursued their dreams and made it. I want to be them, too!