Placido Domingo is said to have given this advice to a young musician.
- Give the audience your all, even your mistakes. You are human.
- Put on a smile. It is a gift.
- Never stop trying to change the world, no matter what your age.
It is that last point that intrigued me. As writers we rarely meet our audience face-to-face so they won’t know if we smile. Writing allows time for re-writes, proofing and corrections, so we have a chance to correct out mistakes before they are in the readers’ hands.
Change the world? That is what the arts are all about. No matter if we write or sing or paint or sculpt, the artist’s job is to change or clarify the way people view the world. We evoke emotion that inspires action. One has only to pick up a newspaper or turn on the television to realize our world is beset by problems that are overwhelming to the individual. It would be easy to take refuge in cynicism or ignorance. Yet, collectively, we can make a difference. The artists among us have a responsibility to reach that place within humanity to urges us to build a better world.
Remember “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson. Published in 1962 it inspired the environmental movement that began in earnest two decades later and resulted in the ban on DDT.
Consider the “Singing Revolution” where hundreds of thousands of Estonians gathered to sing forbidden patriotic songs as a protest against occupation by the Soviet Union. Estonia is now a free nation.
Aesop used story to illustrate and motivate in his famous fables. Who doesn’t know the tale of the tortoise and the hare, with it’s moral of perseverance over flash and dash. Written over 2500 years ago, the lessons still resonate.
Setting a romance novel alongside these great works may seem presumptuous, but romance is read by millions of women. In the past few months we’ve all seen the power of women united in a single cause. The romance genre has been routinely dismissed by academia, but now various universities are offering courses on it. That’s the power of good story-telling; the power of art.
I’m a fan of Mr. Domingo. His advice resonates with me. I do try to give my best in all circumstances. You can’t see it, but I’m a smiling sort of person. Change the world? That’s a big task. Still, my stories celebrate love. They illumine positive relationships between men and women and children. They are hopeful. They are uplifting. They portray a world of decency and faith and good neighbours. That’s how I try to change the world.