On December 27, one month before my 50th birthday, Showtime aired a documentary called There’s Something You Should Know about the life and career of Duran Duran spanning 40 years. Of course, as a fan for 36 of those 40 years, naturally I watched with nostalgia and enthusiasm as it brought back happy memories and made me psyched for my friend David O’s party celebrating the one-year anniversary of his podcast (and, in some ways, a new movement) called “The D Side,” which I’m attending in Atlanta on January 10, 2020. And although it’s a given that Duran Duran is going to inspire me in one form or another every time I listen to or watch something involving them, I didn’t expect the impact of this bit of reflection and advice from front-man Simon Le Bon that seemed directed specifically to and for me:
“The first time it [commercial failure] happens, it’s really scary because you thought you would carry on forever. ... And the next time it happens, it’s not so bad, and the *next* time it happens, it’s not so bad. And then you get to a point where you just relax and think, ‘You know what? Let’s just do what we do. Do we believe in the music we make? Yes, we do. Can we go in and write new stuff? Have you still got stuff inside of you that you want to say? Yes, I have. Yes, we can.’ Then you do it.”
When he spoke that first truth, I sat and nodded with recognition and validation, flashing back to two years ago when the cloud of success I’d been floating on turned into a brick and plummeted to the ground. In fact, I’d spent the better part of 2019 finally dealing with the pain and the grief of the crash. And since then, subsequent bricks have dropped. But as Simon continued, I felt as if he was putting an arm around me, assuring me it was going to get better. And by the time he said “Then you do it,” a wave of calm crested over me, and I knew exactly what and how I wanted to live for 2020 in terms of being a writer and a published author: Let’s just do what we do.
Do I believe in the books that I make? Yes, I do.
Can I go in and write new stuff? Have I still got stuff inside of me that I want to say?
Yes, I have. Yes, I can.
One thing about Duran Duran that has always impressed and inspired and motivated me was their singular, directed vision. They had a definite chief aim. They didn’t just aspire to become a successful pop band; rather, they intended it. They made plans. They believed in themselves and their music and their style and their look. They wanted to be “the band to dance to when the bomb drops,” and they played (while we danced) as if they were, as if there was no other choice. And in the span of 40 years and fourteen (soon to be fifteen) albums, they refused to play it safe; they set the trends rather than chase them; they continued to believe in themselves, even when their clouds turned into bricks. They never wavered from their vision. They never looked for fallback jobs, never cowered from their critics, and never got stuck pining for their glory days. They moved forward, one foot in the other, even when it seemed as if no one was dancing anymore. As if the bomb had already dropped.
In late 2010, and by age 50, Duran Duran had made and released All You Need is Now, an album that pretty much defined the first half of my forties. Heck, if they could do that at 50, then what could I do at age 50 with a singular, directed vision? What could I do if I believed in myself and the stuff inside me? What could I do if I just relaxed and said “You know what? Let’s just do what we do”?
I could make something really special. I could make something that dances rather than chases. I could make magic.
This is the note I needed to end 2019 and begin 2020 on. This was something I needed to know.
This is where I am and where I’m going. Because here’s the thing about bricks: when they drop to the ground, they can become roads. You can even dance on them.
I'm an author of commercial women's fiction and a writing instructor. My claim to fame: I can say the alphabet backwards.