In the business of being an artist, let’s say that creative success is just an odds game, like playing roulette, and you need to spin a red 9 to win. Let’s say that, because it’s true.
There are two differences:
1. The roulette wheel will change size depending how good you are. If you are terrible at your craft, the wheel will have thousands of numbers on it. You might still hit nine, but probably not. If you’re really good, it just has one through ten. If you’re amazing, it’s just red or black.
2. You don’t actually have to pay anything when you lose your bet, but you still collect when you win. This is amazing. Sure, you will have wasted the time it took to play, and people might look at you funny when you lose, but there is no actual loss- just an emotional one. You can choose to toughen up and play again.
The more you play, the more chances you have to win. If you’re playing forever and never hitting, chances are you need to get better. If you’re already technically good, chances are you’re not really risking very much of yourself, or saying dangerous things you’d like to, and your work may be pretty, but safe and boring. Change it. Risk more.
If you’re doing dangerous, naked stuff, but never hitting, chances are you’re a little full of yourself, and aren’t giving people a chance to relate to your work and feel comfortable inside it. Art is communication. You can write a novel in an obscure dialect of Swahili if you choose, but keep in mind, only ten people are even able to read your book, let alone want to. Don’t disdain being accessible. Don’t put a bet on your neighbors sandwich because it says so much about the absurdity of the game and then expect to win. Unless you’re an extraordinary genius who can make a new game, or have a rich family who can pay people to enjoy what you’re doing, you will have to play on the table with everyone else to win.
But mostly, just take risks. Don’t worry about people’s opinions of you, just fight back. Just Play. Keep fighting.
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