Cut, Print, Moving On: Saying Goodbye to Shaun's Musical Musings

After over three and a half years as a theatre blogger - starting back in 2014 when I'd just turned 15 years old - I've come to decide that it's time to hang up my coat and call it a day. It's been a fantastic run and they've been formative days for me as a person that I will never forget. I've made wonderful friends and have had amazing experiences and I can't say thank you enough for that.

One of my favourite musicals of all time is Stephen Sondheim's Company and one of my favourite lines from the whole show is said by Kathy during my favourite song "Another Hundred People": "I think there's a time to go to New York and a time to leave". I think that knowing and embracing something not working out is vital when it comes to finding success. It's something that I learned to do the hard way when, after four months of hard, collaborative work on my email newsletter Nolan Letter earlier this year, I decided to lay it to rest: it wasn't working and I wasn't enjoying it, so why waste my time on doing it? After a long three and a half years, I've come to realise that I feel the exact same way for SMM and so I know that now is the time to say goodbye as well.

When I started theatre blogging back in April of 2014, it was because my friends told me it would be a good idea. I had tried to write about theatre on my normal blog (which is now a part of my new website) and it didn't feel quite right, so launching my own theatre blog seemed like the right thing to do. At that kind of time, casual blogging and vlogging was still pre-"golden age" (for want of a better term to use) so I didn't know anyone else who had a blog exclusively dedicated to theatre so it felt exciting and new. After doing that for about six months, my friend Jess pointed me in the direction of a company called London Theatre Direct who were tweeting about wanting to start a blogging community of their own and after submitting a review of Urinetown, I became their first blogger.

At the age of 15 and being a theatre fan, blogging about theatre was a total dream come true. Not only did I get to put my name out there into the world of entertainment while still balancing all of my school work, but I also got to attend press nights and events for free - free theatre is brilliant for anyone, but even more so when you're 15! I exploited this to the max and have seen almost 250 shows in my time as a theatre blogger and I've loved it endlessly, even the review-writing portion. But being a journalist or a critic or a blogger was never something I wanted to do as a career. Writing fiction and screenplays and acting and creating is what I've always had a passion for and that passion has never died, it's just that I've let it be stifled at times.

It's funny to think that all I did before Summer of 2016 was pretty much just Shaun's Musical Musings. I've always been a creative person and have written short stories and acted and sang and have written scripts and whatnot, but I'd never publicised the fact until about then. In Summer 2016, I started working on a podcast which, while it's still a sort-of blogging medium, was a script-based project; I was basically creating a 10-part documentary series but in audio format. Flash-forward a year and after losing the restraints of school, I embarked on creating and releasing Pickle which - while I know isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination - was my first venture I ever had in wearing a billion different hats and making something more in line with what I want to make in the future and I'm endlessly proud of making that leap.

Before this Summer when I started working on Pickle, my "creativity" was stifled (when using that term, I'm describing the work I want to do in the future - not to call blogging un-creative, but I just can't think of another term for it.) Going to school did take up a lot of my time and rightfully so, but the spare time I did get, I was always working hard. With that hardworking time though, I was so totally dedicated to building a successful brand as a theatre blogger that my time doing the stuff I really wanted to do was relegated to being late at night and never completed. I've also always seen a dilemma in publicising my blog as well as written creative work: I don't think creating work is the best thing to do when you're slamming other peoples' work in a review.

When I started Opening Doors last year, it was my first time trying to balance two creative entities at once and I found it pretty easy, so I knew then that I could create something else on top of these things and school, too. It was then that I started working on a one-man play, which soon became Pickle, which takes us to now. And now that I'm working on five different major projects at once, all for release next year, I've started to realise that SMM has become the new school: to do it well, it takes a lot of time and it's time that I'm not willing to put in for something I don't want to do in my future anymore. 

I don't think it's said enough in the digitally creative world that building your brand is bloody difficult. We are all shouting as loudly as we can into The Void to try and get peoples' attention and it's difficult to do so, so to be successful, you need to work hard on it. It's why I applaud my friends Rukaya and Olivia so much - and everyone else like them, too - for dedicating themselves to this so selflessly and passionately. Knowing them personally, I know how hard they are constantly working to refine what they're doing and to make it look effortless and that is why they are so brilliant. It's effort though that I don't want to put in to a theatre blog anymore and for that reason, I know that it's time to say goodbye to both SMM and to my work over on London Theatre Direct.

So what does this mean for the future? Well, it definitely doesn't mean I'm gone from theatre forever. On the contrary, I did just say before that I was working on a play earlier this year, so I'm still going to be around. My love for theatre is no smaller than it was earlier this year and I'm still a die-hard fan, so I'll be visiting just as much, it's just that my opinions will be over on Twitter and Instagram as opposed to here from now on. I'm also sticking with my theatre column for Vale Life Magazine if you read that and I do intend on finding another regular column space some time in the near future, too. And of course you'll see me in vlogs from Rukaya and Olivia forever more as well!

Before I go, I do have two more weeks of theatre writing left in me though so I'd like to exercise that for all that it's worth. As a result, I'll be posting on here every single day from Monday (October 16th) until the night that the site closes on Sunday October 29th. I'm most excited to share with you my top 50 favourite musicals of all time...! Likewise, my final post in the London Theatre Direct blogging community will be posted during this time as well, so keep an eye out for that on Twitter.

I know that I'll have much more to say in two weeks' time, but for now, I want to say a massive thank you to everyone along this journey that I have had the pleasure of meeting. Theatre blogging is the foundation of the career that I will continue to build on for the rest of my life and through it, I am so proud to have met amazing people, made brilliant professional connections, have had amazing experiences, make life-long friendships and to have inspired people to love theatre more (your words, not mine). Every single person along this journey has been sublime and I will forever be in awe of each and every one of you.

I look forward to spending my final two weeks on here with all of you.

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