“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. 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 make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.
"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. We know our work doesn’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 its 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.” - Ira Glass
These are very true words, and I certainly wish someone had said them to me. I would have agonised less about the huge distance between the complex visions in my imagination and what I was able to put on the page in drawings and text. That distance never completely goes away...but it does get steadily smaller with time, hard work, and experience. In a youth-obsessed culture that over-emphasises early genius and the glamor of overnight success, it's good to remind young people beginning their artistic lives that you don't have to show up at the table as the artist you're going to be, you grow and work yourself into that artist. You unfold into that artist over years and decades.
If you could go back and speak to your younger self, or your beginning self, what would your advice be...?
Picture above: a drawing from my early days of making art, back in Boston in the 1980s