I’m not good at finishing things.
I love starting new projects. New blogs. New novels. New hobbies. New anything, really. The planning stage is the most fun. It’s the time you get to think about how amazing your new project is going to be. It’ll be brilliant! Everyone will love it!
And then the planning stage is over, and it’s time to actually work. You realize that the actual doing is a lot harder than you’d imagined. It’s also not as fun. It’s like any new relationship. Once the bloom is off the rose, so to speak, you wonder if there’s anything there worth salvaging. Hopefully there is, but even then, it still requires lots of slogging and hard work to get to the good stuff. This is where I typically fail. That moment when it gets too hard. I give up, so easily, almost every time.
This is why reading something like Hamilton: The Revolution is so inspiring. Hamilton was a project six years in the making. Longer, really, when you think of how much growth Lin-Manuel Miranda had to do to be able to get to a point in his life where he was capable of even starting a project like Hamilton. It was the culmination of many, many years of loving musicals, loving hip hop, and then writing his own musical, In the Heights (which is also great, duh, so check it out).
I came to Hamilton like most of you did. A month or so after it premiered, I kept seeing things about it on the internet, mostly on Tumblr. I really had no idea what it was, so I listened to the first song. Then I downloaded the whole album. I listened to it once, all the way through, and then immediately started it all over. I listened to it constantly, driving my husband up the wall, until he finally succumbed and listened to it, too. Which, FINALLY, because Hamilton was all I wanted to talk about, and it’s hard to be that obsessed with something your significant other knows nothing about.
I’m sure this all sounds familiar to many of you.
My husband gave me Hamilton: The Revolution for my birthday this year, and I put off reading it because I wanted to savor it, take my time. It’s like when you get a really great email from someone, and you know you need to respond, but you want to put a lot of thought into it, so you wait and wait and wait and then it becomes this big THING that you never finish and then that person thinks you hate them and there goes a lifelong friendship right down the toilet WHY DO YOU ALWAYS DO THAT.
That’s what this book became. I kept putting other books before it, which was easy, because did you guys know there are lots of good books out there? Soon, for the first time ever, it looked like I might just finish a full Cannonball in time. However, I decided that, since I’d been using Hamilton quotes for all of my reviews, this book would make the perfect last review. But, because I knew it would be my last review, I continued to put it off, because I will forever be a procrastinator. I joked (back in September) that it would be really funny if I didn’t make Cannonball because I forgot to review one book, though I’d read well over 52 at that point. My husband didn’t think it was so funny and kept pushing me to finally read it so I could finish.
Here’s an annoying thing about me, though: if someone tries to tell me I should do something, even if I logically agree that it is for my benefit, it makes me not want to do it ever, ever, ever. So I continued to NOT READ THIS. I’m the worst.
But anyway, this review is supposed to be about Hamilton, not my mental problems.
Hamilton: The Revolution is a song-by-song retelling of how the musical came to be. Where it started, who got involved and why, the ways in which it changed along the way. It’s fascinating to see how this behemoth of Broadway got its start. How the play, and each song in it, came to be. It’s for people like you and me, who could talk about Hamilton all day. My level of fervor has not lessened much since my initial obsession. I still listen to it at least once a week. (Though, not at work anymore, because I can’t listen to “It’s Quiet Uptown” or hear “the orphanaaaage” without full out sobbing, which apparently isn’t “professional.”)
There are a million things I could say about Hamilton, particularly in the midst of our current (depressing oh god kill me) political climate, but they’ve all been said more eloquently than I could manage at this point. And if I’ve learned anything during this process of (successfully!) completing 52 book reviews in one year, it’s that I can’t let perfection be the enemy of the GOOD GOD JUST FINISH IT ALREADY, JENNIE. That’s where I usually fail. I try for a while, realize what I’m doing isn’t already perfect, and I give up. I don’t want to be that kind of person. That kind of person leaves nothing behind.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, like Hamilton, like all of us, I suppose, is obsessed with how legacies are created. In Hamilton, Miranda solidifies not only Alexander Hamilton’s legacy, but also his own. He rocketed to fame with this project, one he toiled over for years and years, one that may never have been finished but for the people in his life helping him along the way. The lesson I’m taking from it is that I need to listen to people like my husband, who are just trying to help me finish the projects I’ve started. Maybe that’s the only way things ever get finished. It’s so easy to give up. It’s easier still to listen to the people who won’t let you give up on yourself.