What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me… is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you’re making stuff, what you’re making is just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good.
But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. Your taste is good enough so you can tell that what you’re making is a disappointment to you. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. You can tell that it’s crappy. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit.
Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. Years of where they had really good taste, they knew what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be, they knew it fell short. For some of us it’s easier to admit this to ourselves but we knew it didn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.
Worth watching full interview
- Reporter: “What do you say to parents who think the Wild Things film may be too scary?”
- Sendak: “I would tell them to go to hell. That’s a question I will not tolerate.”
- Reporter: “Because kids can handle it?”
- Sendak: “If they can’t handle it, go home. Or wet your pants. Do whatever you like. But it’s not a question that can be answered.”
Great post in the NYTimes by Ross Douthat, excerpt:
In hereditary aristocracies, debacles tend to flow from stupidity and pigheadedness: think of the Charge of the Light Brigade or the Battle of the Somme. In one-party states, they tend to flow from ideological mania: think of China’s Great Leap Forward, or Stalin’s experiment with “Lysenkoist” agriculture.
In meritocracies, though, it’s the very intelligence of our leaders that creates the worst disasters. Convinced that their own skills are equal to any task or challenge, meritocrats take risks that lower-wattage elites would never even contemplate, embark on more hubristic projects, and become infatuated with statistical models that hold out the promise of a perfectly rational and frictionless world.
What you see in today’s Republican primary campaign is a reaction to exactly these kinds of follies — a revolt against the ruling class that our meritocracy has forged, and a search for outsiders with thinner résumés but better instincts.
But from Michele Bachmann to Herman Cain, the outsiders haven’t risen to the challenge. It will do America no good to replace the arrogant with the ignorant, the overconfident with the incompetent.
In place of reckless meritocrats, we don’t need feckless know-nothings. We need intelligent leaders with a sense of their own limits, experienced people whose lives have taught them caution. We still need the best and brightest, but we need them to have somehow learned humility along the way.