Watching 'The Get Down' has been a transcendental experience. Everything about it has transported me, and many others, back to 1977. The way Ezekiel writes and then recites/raps his poetry is inspiring and motivating to me as a young writer myself. But I'm not writing this to analyse 'The Get Down', although that is an important part of it. Since its premiere, I've been faced with three questions, each as thought-provoking as the others, but one in particular stood out to me. So I decided to answer this question, one that has been on my mind for a while, years in fact: When is it worth it to not give up, and how do you keep trying?
The answer? Well, there isn't one really. At least, not a straight-forward one.
There are always times when it's worth it to carry on, but there are times that, try as you might, there is no need to continue. In particular, sometimes relationships are worth giving up on. When it comes to those, I've found that you can put so much effort into it yet when you weigh up all the odds, the strain and consequence do not balance out.
But when it's worth it not to give up, I'm sure i don't have to be the one to say that it can be the hardest thing to carry on. So I'm going to relay the most important piece of advice that I've ever received. Last year some time, I was advised to buy the 'Writers' & Artists' Yearbook' (2016 edition), and inside I read a piece called 'How to write an award-winning first novel' by an excellent author called Nathan Filer. In the piece, he spoke about what you can do to ensure you reach your goal. The most important piece of this, I felt, was what he had heard himself one day. Filer, it seems, felt stuck as many of us do and deeply depressed when he attended a lecture on 'Evidence-based Approaches to Positive Psychology', in other words, as he says it 'How to be Happy'.
The lecturer there said that "the problem [...] is that when our goals aren't specific, it's too easy to convince ourselves that we're getting there when we're not'. That is a quote that changed my life, so much so that I stuck it onto my bedroom wall to remind myself everyday to ensure that I'm doing something that gets me to where I truly need to be, not just something that I feel will help me some day, but something that will actually help me now.
I don't think I'm able to call myself a writer, not yet. I'm early on in my career and I don't have much to show for it. But how do you keep trying? Find a goal. And make that goal specific. I've come to realise that once you can see the end of something, you start to see the steps along the way, the little bullet points that you can check off the list until it's complete. Somethings, maybe even this, are much easier said than done, but finding that one specific goal is one of the most amazing things that you can do. It's utter clarity.
In 'The Get Down', Ezekiel may not know exactly what his specific goal is yet, and that's okay, perhaps not everyone needs to know, but he's definitely going somewhere. He knows who he is, and what's important to him.