On Determination and Hard Work
Last night at Sassy Ann's in Knoxville I had the privilege of doing a bit of time during the open mic for comedian J.C. Ratliff's album release party. His debut comedy album, "Hope is a Virus," was recorded in the same room almost a year ago so it was fitting that he return for everyone to revel in the presence of the album's physical copies.
Since my first time up with a mic at Twisted Mike's Taproom, I have become quite appreciative of the hard work that it takes to be a comedian, and to "make it" in a business that requires you to live on pennies a day for the purpose of making your dreams come true. Crafting jokes to be told in front of an audience is brutally hard work, and people like J.C. Ratliff make it look easy only because they spend hours perfecting their craft. I had a chance to glance at one of J.C.'s notebooks last night and it was scrawled with idea after idea, some with post-it notes haphazardly slapped on the sides of a page with more writing. "I write a lot," he dismissively said when he noticed my eyes bug out.
No kidding, J.C.
On reflection of this culmination for several years' worth of work, I think it draws back to the idea of when I first started my law practice. No one told me how to do it and there was no easy formula for getting started and running a viable business. I had to learn everything I know now over the course of five years, suffering from numerous failures and making numerous advances to get to where I am now. Some months it felt as though I was continually taking two steps back for every step forward I advanced, and there were times that I wanted to abandon the entire practice and go get a nine to five so I didn't have to listen to peoples' problems anymore.
But I persisted. I knew in my heart of hearts that this profession--as much as I loved and hated it--was what I was born to do. I knew that when I was in court or researching a novel argument, I was in my element, experiencing a feeling of satisfaction unlike anything else I'd ever done for a job. I knew that when I stood before a judge as the proverbial "voice of the voiceless" I was doing something that needed to be done, and giving people something they needed in a time where they were hurt the most. No matter how much I wanted to quit at times I could not as it was imperative to myself personally and professionally that I succeed in the profession to which I had devoted my life, cost me one marriage, and left me with a degenerative eye condition.
I suspect J.C. Ratliff is the kind of person who understands the same principles. He wanted to do something that few others have done, and he worked at it to a near obsessive pace. He continues to slog away at his profession, crafting ideas that will make a room full of patrons laugh--even if the humor is uncomfortable for them to stomach. When it came time to create, record, and distribute his album he worked out the plan to do it, gathered the funds to do it, and then executed on his plan as best he could, using his life's experiences to make sure that his plan succeeded no matter what.
We've reached a point in our society where we're told that it's okay to accept failure as part of society now--that the "1%," "racism," "sexism," or any other combination of circumstances beyond our control. Some of these matters may be actual factors blocking people from achieving their goals in life, and it's a shame if that's something that stops you from doing what you want or achieving what you want.
In times like these, I support people like J.C. Ratliff--those who have an idea and then execute on it, refusing to take "no" for an answer and proceeding forward until they achieve the goal they set.
Sometimes you just have to be determined enough to never stop until you get what you want.
If you're keen on buying "Hope is a Virus," you can do so through CD Baby, iTunes, or Ebay if you want to get a few extra free items with your purchase. I'm not linking you to iTunes because if you're reading this you're intelligent enough to know how to download an album on your phone and J.C.'s going to get paid more if you buy a physical copy from one of the other outlets.