The last time I saw Nick Stafford was about two years ago. I was reviewing his novel Armistice on Simon Mayo’s R5 book programme. We got the tube together after, he was working hard, War Horse was going to Broadway.
The time before the last time I saw Nick was 5 or 6 years earlier, at a mutual friend’s birthday. He was saying things were tricky, difficult.
This morning Nick’s name and War Horse are all over my twitter and facebook feeds. They’ve won a Tony, several Tonys.
And what this tells me is that it always helps to have a great starting point (Morpurgo’s book is a great starting point – and how very many successful plays and films come from novels in the first place!); it certainly helps to work with great people (Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris’s Tony for best direction acknowledges that). But beyond that, much more, it helps to keep going.
We ALL have good years and bad years, we ALL have difficult times and very many things are not what they seem on the surface, or at first glance.
Yes, some people do get lucky, they sell that first book, first play, first film script and it sails on merrily from there. But for most of us success, in whatever form it presents (a good relationship, a great commercial return, a brilliant piece of work), is a matter of keeping going, working at it, putting up with the bad times, trusting it will come good – and then keeping going some more in the times when even that trust is impossible.
I’ve heard too many stories from very close mates about the dark side of Broadway to assume a big shiny prize comes without difficulty, without its own problems on the way to getting there, and perhaps afterwards. I know that judging panels are utterly subjective and one year’s judges will award a prize that the next year’s wouldn’t even longlist. But knowing Nick a very little, and Tom a little more, I find it wonderful that I know some people who’ve won a big shiny prize. I find it even more exciting because neither of them are 22 year old wunderkinds, and luck has very little to do with it.