I remember the moment I heard "Seasons of Love," introducing me to the haunting beauty of RENT. I remember listening to "Defying Gravity" for the first time beside my best friend as we read through Wicked by Gregory Maguire, anticipating the arrival of the musical to our city theater. As two of my favorite shows, those moments seem so important now. The former reminded me of the importance of love and friendship, while the latter became the formation of a best friendship that has grown each year since.
Most recently I remember hearing the opening: "How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore... grow up to be a hero and a scholar?" from the Grammy-winning musical, Hamilton. Yes, I remember my friend rapping this out during a round of karaoke. I, however, did not listen to this song, nor remember that there was a musical about Alexander Hamilton until Amazon added the ENTIRE album to Prime music. What can I say? Life's been a bit busy since hearing the opening number.
Regardless of the month it took me to find my way back to this musical, I have become obsessed with this soundtack. I think if you ask any Hamilton junkie then they will agree that you go from curious to obsessed in no time. I not only feel like I've learned so much about this time in history, but I have also been reminded of the importance of writing, passion, and time.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, the genius behind this musical, read a biography about Hamilton eight years ago and discovered that the founding father led a spectacular life that he believed he could translate into the tight turns of phrase found in 90's hip hop. And now, Miranda stars as Alexander Hamilton and shares the story that others tried to erase from history.
Though I haven't seen the show, nor do I expect to be seeing it in the near future as tickets are sold out until 2018, I have listened to the entire soundtrack more times than I can count now. And from these songs I've found quotes and ideas that are more relevant than I ever could have imagined. Both Hamilton and Miranda are writers at heart, and as a writer myself, I am fascinated by what calls us to the page.
Hamilton wrote like he was running out of time, like he needed it to survive. He believed in his own words and his ability to influence our world for the better. I think as writers, we all hope that our words will affect someone else. Both Hamiltion and Miranda have done this.
I think of the story I started seven(ish) years ago, and know that I'm willing to wait for the day that I see this same story published. I know that I need writing to survive. And the music in this addicting show reminded me that passion and time are two of the key components to success in not only writing, but life.
Throughout the course of the week, I've let the words from Hamilton soak through me. I've written one new short story for One For One Thousand and sent out two Grayson & Shaw stories, and I've gotten back into my WIP, and I feel like I'm making progress.
And I know there must be something born within us who dedicate our lives to words that makes us compulsive and slightly crazed. I think Hamilton must have been born with this, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and myself as well because I think of the many stories within me and fear there won't be enough time to tell them.
I hear Washington singing "Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?" and know it could be any of my charaters asking the same thing. I hear that last crescendo of "History has its eyes on you," and think of the relevance of Washington and Hamilton in the moment, of all us now watching the shooting star that is Hamilton the musical, and of the people populating my world who are now watching how I will handle life post-MFA. It is a lot of thinking that happens within my head, but I think Alexander Hamilon would approove. Trust me A. Ham, I'm not throwing away my shot.