I decided to take a few days off of work last December — something I didn’t do often. I took a train up into the city near my hometown, met a friend, and navigated the infamous traffic and parking fees and crowds so we could see a concert.
It was Lindsey Stirling’s Chicago tour stop. We sat in the last row — so far back that we weren’t even sitting in theater seats, but the extra folding chairs they put out to fit more people in. We had to stand if we wanted to see the stage.
That might seem like a lot to endure in one evening to listen to someone play the violin for a few hours.
But I figured it would be worth it. And it was … just not in the way I was expecting.
The thing about live concerts is, it’s always more than just music. Artists always sprinkle in other elements. Or they just sit or stand at a microphone and talk about their journeys to getting to where they are at that moment.
Lindsey’s show was no different. The music was amazing, don’t get me wrong. But most memorable to me was her speaking about how she made it onto that stage.
It’s not the fact that she played the violin for over a decade before pursuing it as a professional outlet. There’s nothing revolutionary about that fact.
It’s that she told us (she might have mentioned it plenty of times before, but this was my first time hearing it) that there was a point when she, and I’m totally paraphrasing here, took her violin with her wherever she went, and played anywhere someone could hear.
Something about that statement grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me hard.
Because as an artist, as a creative human, sometimes we feel like we’re intruding on other people’s lives, trying to show everyone what we’re making, knowing the majority of them won’t care. At least, I do.
But that doesn’t matter. “Doing whatever it takes” doesn’t mean keeping all your art to yourself, hoping someone will accidentally discover it someday.
You can’t “make it” if you don’t put your work out there. If you don’t do all you can to show people what you can do.
I didn’t decide to go to a concert to “get inspired.” It had nothing to do with work, with writing — with me.
All I wanted was to get away from it all for a few days. To listen to some music, to have too much fun, to not think about work. And what I got out of trying to escape was a much-needed reminder that I was never going to get where I wanted to be if I didn’t stop trying to escape.
As a writer, you can’t just sit around and wait for things to happen. You have to do everything you can to set things in motion. No matter how exhausting or time-consuming. No matter how slow your progress feels. Whether you want to keep pushing forward or not, if you’re seriously determined, you don’t have another choice.
Lindsey Stirling wasn’t talking to me. Obviously. But her words wrapped themselves around me and grounded me just the same. They still haven’t lost their grip on me. And I don’t think they ever will.
There’s a lesson to be learned here. Whether you care about the violin or not.
Inspiration can come from anywhere and last a moment or a lifetime.
You never know when or where it might find you.
And sometimes, the best kinds of inspiration show up when you least expect them to.
When they appear, hold onto them. Let them speak to you.
They just might change your life.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.