I had had these two enormous hits [“Godspell” and “Pippin”], during one of which I was in conflict with a Broadway darling [director-choreographer Bob Fosse], and then I had followed this up with another great big hit [“The Magic Show”] that people felt artistically did not deserve to be a hit. I felt like I had crashed this party that nobody wanted me to be at and that I had come in and had eaten too much of the food and had too much to drink. …
"It just felt clear to me that the New York theatre establishment saw me as an untalented upstart who had no business to be part of their club. When "Working" took a nose dive [in 1978], I started thinking, these are smart people, maybe they’re right — maybe I’m no good. … I felt like I had tried really, really hard and I didn’t achieve my goals. …
"I didn’t really do anything for three years. I took three years off. I didn’t see a single Broadway play between 1978 and 1981. I refused to go to the theatre. …
"When "Rags" failed [in 1986], I quit Broadway, but said, okay, I’ll try London. When that didn’t work [in 1991], I gave up. I thought to myself, I’m one of those guys who had a little flash of success at the beginning, sort of like being slightly more than a one-hit wonder, but it’s over for me, and nothing is ever going to work again.
Composer-Lyricist of “Wicked,” one of the most successful Broadway musicals of all time. (The above quotes come from various places in the excellent book Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz)
Anyone here who feels discouraged or wants to give up on something remember Stephen Schwartz. After several hits in the early 1970s Schwartz had flop after flop for years and wouldn’t have another hit on Broadway until 2003 with Wicked (that’s a 29-year gap!).
In 1986 he wrote out a vow in front of Annie composer Charles Strouse never to work in a commercial Broadway venue again. And by 1991 Schwartz was so discouraged that he quit songwriting entirely and was enrolled in a graduate program at New York University to train for a new career.
Imagine if he had actually kept to either of those resolutions! We would never have had Wicked, not to mention all his work in Hollywood.
Now what are the rest of us giving up on too soon?