Three weeks ago I celebrated my 44th birthday. It’s been more than half-a-lifetime since that afternoon in high school when I realized with the clarity of a bell that I wanted a life filled with books and music and movies; I wanted to make stuff.
Here are a few things I've leaned in the ensuing years. Some I’ve come close to mastering. Others, well, let just say a bit more practice is in order.
No one will ever care as much about your art as you do. Only you can know enough to answer the tough questions, like, is it worth the effort?
Find someone who can teach you what you need to know and stick close.
Conversely, if you're not actively mentoring someone, you're doing your community a disservice.
When hiring others, find people who know more than you, then trust them to do their job.
There's always going to be someone better than you.
Other people's success is not a mark of your own failure.
Everyone, no matter how experienced, on some level is faking it. That is to say, no one knows exactly how their creativity works. We make up rituals. Mostly though, it's a mystery.
In the end, it comes down to love. If you love what you do, you'll find a way to keep doing it.
Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp
Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
The War of Art:Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
I'm particularly fond of the Pressfield titles.
I’m hardly a stranger to uncertainty and self-doubt. So picking up a copy of David Bayles and Ted Orland’s slim volume Art & Fear wasn’t a difficult choice.
I’ve just started but already the author’s have begun to catalogue many of the doubts that swirl in my head each time I begin a new project.
Here are some early gems on the necessity of failing:
“You learn how to make your work by making your work, and a great many of the pieces you make along the way will never stand out as finished art. The best you can do is make the art you care bout – and lots of it!”
“Basically, those who continue to make art are those who have learned how to continue – or more precisely, have learned how to not quit.”
Two weeks ago, my short film Three Women premiered on MediaStorm. It was the culmination of three year's work and I can't think of a better home for it.
But now, I'm feeling just a little lost. The intensity of finishing Three Women has been replaced with uncertainty of what to do next.
It's times like these that it's important to remember that the creative process, from gestation to completion, is a cyclical one.
What has left will return.