closing the gap

Inspired by the recent newsletter from photographer and writer, Michelle GD.

This short video on Creative Work with words by Ira Glass.

“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.”

I wonder what I could have learned if I’d stuck with it? What could I have accomplished if I’d kept practicing? If I hadn’t gotten discouraged and given up?

What happens behind the scenes, to produce the story, the photograph, the painting, the music, the dance – it’s all just hard work. Not luck or even talent.

In my adult life, I’ve tried to learn lots of things. I’ve taken cake decorating, tap dancing, swimming, and painting lessons. I got discouraged with just how far I was from where I wanted to be, and I let those things go.

And when I watch this video, I fall in love with what hard work produces. I feel the beat of the music. I imagine what it must feel like to move in this way. My entire body vibrates with the sensation of mastery – the sense of knowing that you are doing what you were put on this earth to do – and you are doing it well.

This is the one thing I’ve held on to – with determination and dedication and unfailing faith – this picture-taking thing. It’s what drives me to get up in the morning. It’s what makes the world a place worth living in.

It’s so worth it to fight my way through. And close the gap.