Keep hammering the Anvil!!!

September 18, 2009 at 20:54 (1)

Saw a fab documentary tonight — Anvil: The Story Of Anvil. It followed the fortunes of a Canadian heavy metal band which has been going solidly for more than 30 years. They had a brief brush with minor fame in the early 1980s, but have struggled ever since. Despite the setbacks, lack of fans and funds, they have soldiered on, releasing new albums and touring wherever and whenever they can, in and around their regular day jobs. The film follows them on an ill-fated tour of Europe, then on to the recording of a new, all-or-nothing album, before they end with a surprise call-up for what might be their best festival ever… or their worst!!!

The film is very funny, and oddly touching at times, a real-life version of This Is Spinal Tap. It would be easy to laugh at these guys who’ve been chasing after a dream for so many years, but instead what shines through is their dedication and determination. They never stop believing, even when any sane person would up and quit. They enjoy their music and their tours (when they aren’t fighting tooth-and-nail with one another!!) and just get a buzz out of being able to do what they love, even if they aren’t making any money from it.

For me, Anvil sum up all that a musician or writer or artist or anyone with a dream should be. They put their dream before everything else, finding ways to chase it when the demands of the real world get in the way. They have families and jobs to pay the bills, but they never give up. They realise that taking pleasure from pursuing your dream is the most important thing — commercial success is a nice by-product if it comes, but it’s not the most important thing in the world to them.

I often get asked for tips about writing, and one of the most crucial is this — you have to be prepared to fail, at least in the way that society judges failure. Most writers (dream-chasers in general) don’t make very much money. I was lucky — I wrote Cirque Du Freak when I was 24 years old and it changed my life forever. But I might have have written that book until I was 34. Or 44. Or 54. Or maybe never. I was very proud of my work up to that point — I’d completed lots of books, fiddling about with genres and styles, pushing myself, experimenting. I always hoped to find a market, but I never went in pursuit of it. For me, knowing that I was following my dream and creating work that meant a lot to me was the most important thing. That should be the same for every creative person. Yearn for success by all means, but don’t sell your soul to try and achieve it. Keep creating and fighting and believing, and accept that maybe that might — no, probably will have to be enough. If you can’t accept that, maybe you need to re-think your priorities and ask what is it you truly seek — the realising of a dream, or enjoying the bonuses that success will bring? If the latter, you should probably go be a banker or commercial lawyer or something like that, because you stand a far better chance of hitting it big in those fields than you do in the murky waters of the creative world, where true originality and genius goes unloved and unnoticed and unrewarded all the time.

Getting back to Anvil — they actually HAVE enjoyed some of the fame they sought at last. The success of the documentary has brought them new fans and a small measure of fame. They’re touring the world, selling some albums and merchandise, and doing OK by all accounts — and after 30-plus years, they’re certainly more entitled to that bit of fame and money than most!!!! You can check out their web site by CLICKING HERE. And I’ve added their most famous song to my MySpace profile, if you want to have a listen to what they sound like. I’m not a huge metal fan (though I do love Metallica), but this song, “Metal On Metal”, had me bobbing my head along to it! Rock on!!!!

1 Comment

  1. Robbie said,

    Please keep up the good work by writing more soon please.

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