Book 3: A Career in the Arts
The life of a prolific creator is a journey of false starts, new beginnings, detours, dead ends, debacles, and events that force you to deviate from your itinerary. I never planned to be an author. I made plans for a normal life. But two recessions forced me to deviate from my itinerary. You couldn’t have planned such bad timing if you tried. It forced me to take the scenic route.
Lingering in obscurity is a rite of passage for every iconic artist. Nobody falls out of the womb and into a leading role in an Oscar-winning film. But if you’re prolific, you’ll reduce the likelihood and length of your obscurity.
I said in my first book, “Art that rewards its creator longer after the average person would quit is admired, but rarely encouraged.” You have to let go of many of the things you’ve been conditioned to believe. The beauty of being prolific is that there’s no expiration date for your most ambitious dreams.
“We don’t make movies so we can make money. We make money so we can make more movies” — Walt Disney
I had my first taste of commercial creative success in 2013. Then I proceeded to fuck it all up in 2014. I almost ran a business into the ground and burned a dozen bridges.
My moment in the spotlight led me into the depths of darkness. You can only ride the winds of success for so long before you realize that your life has to be about something else.
You never know when it will happen. For some people, it happens in their 20s and for others, it happens in their 70s.
When your lingering in obscurity and struggling, you think what you want is success. Then you get a dose of it. The high fades and what was once a distant dream is your everyday existence. You realize what you’re really after is fulfillment and longevity.
The whole point of being commercially successful with your art is so you can make more of it.
The Price for Being in the Arena
You have to develop a thick skin for a life in the arts.
- Gatekeepers will reject you.
- Family members will question your sanity.
- People on the internet you don’t even fucking know will vilify you.
But as Tony Keppelman said to Steven Pressfield after his first big failure, “You’re taking a few blows. That’s the price for being in the arena.”
Unless you’re willing to pay the price for being in the arena, you can’t play the infinite game of creativity.
This is part of a series about how to become a more prolific creator. You can download the entire book for free here.