Dan Levy and his father, Eugene, are most recently known for having co-created a television show by the name of Schitt’s Creek. When the sitcom first appeared on Netflix, I avoided it like a televised plague. That title. (I almost called this week’s blog, Always give a Schitt’s, but decided against it. This was the right call.) I still wouldn’t have seen it if people we liked hadn’t kept saying it was funny, that we needed to watch at least one episode, so one day we did. A couple of days later, we saw another. The show was good-hearted and we sometimes laughed, and what else do you want from a sitcom? Glynn and I made it through season three before the thrill faded and we wandered off in search of other entertainment.
Three seasons of viewing any program is pretty good for this household. We enjoyed both seasons of Better Off Ted on Netflix, wished it had more episodes, but didn’t complain because we knew we wouldn’t have watched them. We had a great time with the first season of Stranger Things, heard that more episodes were coming, couldn’t find the enthusiasm to add them to the queue. When it comes to t.v. shows, I’m particularly fickle and my partner usually plays along.
Anyway, whether we made it to the end or not, we liked Schitt’s Creek. By extension, we liked the characters on it and the people who played them. So, when I read that Dan Levy was delivering the virtual commencement address to the Savannah College of Art and Design Class of 2021, I thought it would be worth a listen. He wrote a good show; maybe he knew how to write a good speech.
I couldn’t find the commencement address online (SCAD seems to have blocked it), but Bustle.com was able to provide a transcript of his closing words. It started with Dan saying, “The one thing that I would say is: follow through. That’s the greatest advice I could give because so few people actually do it.”
This struck a chord with me. Making promises is easy, but keeping those promises can be pretty tough. For example, I promised to do a weekly blog for an entire year even though people no longer read blogs and my life is not blog-worthy. It’s a deadly combination. Not wanting to disappoint Dan, I guess I’ll continue posting this blog for the 52 weeks I’ve promised.
This, by the way, is week #17. Yes, I’m counting.
Back to the transcript: Dan went on to say, “If you have an idea for something, in whatever form of the arts it is, if you have that painting you have in mind, and it gets tricky, and you are given that crossroads of ‘Do I give up on it or do I keep going?’ always keep going. If you’re a writer and you want to write a book, or a book of poetry, or a television show, or a movie and it gets a bit daunting and intimidating and you get that writer’s block, don’t give up on it. Because at the end of that experience, you will have something. Ninety-nine percent of the people out there have all the ideas in the world but never follow through on it.”
“Always keep going.” This is where Dan and I aren’t quite on the same page. What if someone knows they’re doing a lousy painting? I’ve done that. I was midway through a too-many-weeks painting and I knew it was only getting worse. I didn’t want to spend more days in an effort to finish that catastrophe. I gave up and started a different painting. I like how that one turned out.
And, although I no longer get writer’s block, thanks to something Nora Roberts once said, that doesn’t mean I’ve never given up on a writing project. I have a pair of half-finished manuscripts in a trunk in the garage. In one case, the story took a turn, I didn’t like where it was going, and I couldn’t get it back on-track without starting from scratch. I dumped it. In the second case, my life took a turn and I couldn’t get that back on track before I’d lose interest in what I was writing. I dumped that one, too. When I was able to come up for air, I wrote a different manuscript, instead.
That’s not all. I’ve spent more than a couple of hours today, trying to see how I was going to transition from Dan’s well-meaning but bad advice into my not-so-humble brag. I’ve tried all kinds of ways, and it’s just not coming together. According to D.L., I can’t stop in the middle of the thing and simply walk away. I have to keep pounding away at it, rewrite after rewrite, until some sad string of sentences finishes the thing. I don’t see how this benefits any one of us.
“Never give up, never surrender” appears to be the Levy family motto. (In our house, the family motto is, “We will gladly feast on those who would subdue us.”) Sometimes it is better to stop in the middle of something and walk away. If you stop and think about it, there is