The first thing you’ll need is a thick skin. You’ll need to be able to shrug off rejection and criticism. You’ll need to be able to see past that stuff enough to know THEY might not be the final arbiters of your worth.
But you could get all that from a motivational poster. Don’t give up. Reach for the top. Every journey begins with a single step. All these stupid sayings were once things I wanted to put in one of those desk calendars, only I was going to couple them with pictures of hideous city sightings. Everything happens for a reason? Picture of a puddle of vomit on a subway train. The aforementioned ‘every journey begins with a single step’? Yeah — I was gonna slap that one with a picture of a rat with its guts smeared flat by a taxi.
So. Now you know what I think of THAT stuff. But I’m self-motivating, always, and while I’m at odds with the whole you-just-gotta-keep-trying ideology (because, seriously — how many people out there REALLY DID give it their ABSOLUTE BEST and found that their best WASN’T ENOUGH? Not EVERYONE can play for the NFL, yet we continue to believe the shit we’re told by celebrities as if advice from lottery winners about how to win the lottery (e.g., “Keep buying a ticket at the same corner store *I* did!”) could EVER prove useful on a broader scale), I still came to a realization recently that there’s really probably only two ingredients you need. Like pure potassium in water … combine these fuckers at your own risk.
The first really is perseverance. Everyone got that part right, I’ll admit. There’s SO MUCH opposition out there, and you’re going to have to face it, deal with it, and accept it like an angel.
But you know, that message alone BUGS me, man! Whatever happened to self-reflection? How can I honestly get behind a message that promotes blind, stubborn willfulness?
In short, I can’t. I just can’t support a bad artist who keeps trying, despite trucks full of evidence to the contrary that he should be a star. Sometimes, you really AREN’T good enough. So how to merge the ideas that you both need to continue on despite all the people trying to discourage you as well as the idea that maybe you really need to stop being a wanker and LISTEN to what your critics are trying to scream at you?
Tonight it occurred to me: you need dogged persistence, but you also need to constantly evolve in the face of criticism. You need, basically, to fucking LISTEN and RESPOND to the world as it pushes back on you. Life has ALWAYS been an adaptive game, and you’re not going to get anywhere if you can’t keep up with the changes. If that makes you sad and you want to quit, okay — go ahead and quit. Write in your closet and hope for the best. It worked for Melville, and I’m sure as shit not going to pre-judge you.
But I suggest that you keep two ideas in mind and forgo any petulance: 1.) Keep being a stubborn crazy person, and 2.) Keep listening and taking in new information.
In other words: evolve with anger. Evolve with steadfast commitment to everything you hold dear. Be the kind of person who HEARS them say, “You keep trying to give us X, but we want Y!” and responding with, “FINE! You want Y??? YEAH? Ok! Here’s Y … COVERED in X!”
I mean, maybe I’m dumb and this shit’s obvious to everyone, but … for me, at least, the idea that you should commit to both of those ideas equally was a powerful idea tonight.
Powerful enough to write a blog post about.
All right, back to the novel…