It’s that time of year once again when the blogosphere turns into one big Commencement Address, with all us laymen attempting to say inspirational, reflective things as you go about your introspective reflection. We look back on the year gone past as we look forward to the year to come. The occasion is just too rich with emotion and possibility for those of us who love commenting on things not to comment.
So, if you’ll indulge me:
There is a person you’ve been intending to be. This person is a better looking, better organized, probably fitter, maybe wealthier version of you. Yes, the you that you know is already pretty fine as is. But every year, you make resolutions. Oh, you’re going to do better at the following, you’re going to do less of such and so, you’re going to do more of thus and such. I am not here to talk about your wealth, health and fitness. Lord knows there are blogs a-plenty for that.
No, I want to address that last bit. You’re going to do more of thus and such. Particularly if the thus-and-such is something creative you’ve been promising yourself you’re going to work on one day, but One Day never arrives. Oh, you’ve gotten started several times. But you just. Can’t. Seem. To finish.
This is the year, folks. This is the year. If you’ve been waiting for permission, I hereby grant it. Go work on that thing you’ve been promising yourself you’ll work on. It’ll be hard. It’ll be time-consuming. There will be dark times you doubt yourself, doubt your idea, consider the whole thing a waste of time and want to throw it all away.
But don’t do it. Because the difference between a finished project and one that sits unfinished is your resolve. Know going into it that it’s going to be hard, and expect yourself to plunge on ahead. From the other side, this seemingly insurmountable obstacle will be a glorious accomplishment.
If you’re thinking it’s going to take a while, yes, I suppose it will. But forget overnight success. Concentrate on the long haul. When my wife and I were in our twenties, I was a young artist just starting out and my wife was a newly-minted lawyer. A woman in her late forties came to talk to my wife and said, “I want to be a lawyer, but I’m so old, I think it’s too late to start. By the time I finish law school in three years, I’ll be 52!” And my wife, a paragon of wisdom at only 25 or so, said one of the wisest things I think anyone could say in that situation: “In three years, aren’t you going to be 52 anyway?” It really put the situation into perspective.
Whatever it is you’re putting off for fear of how old you’ll be when you’re done – won’t you be that old in that amount of time anyway? Take one road, and you’ll be that old still talking about this great thing you’re going to do one day. Take the other road, and you’ll already have done it.
If you’re thinking the idea has been done before, let me tell you that you’re probably right, and then follow it up with a big ole, “BUT WHO CARES!?” What, you think George Lucas was the first person to use The Hero’s Journey as a framework for his writing when he scribbled out his ideas for Star Wars? How far back in history do you need to go? What hackneyed hero’s journey framework story is early enough to show you that particular story framework has been in use for a very, very long time, yet it is still effective? Take my word for it, it goes back a ways. Better yet, take your own word for it. If you’re talking seriously about writing a story, you’ve already done the research. You know it’s true that there’s Nothing New Under the Sun.
Here’s the thing: the thing that makes your creation worth it is YOU. What do you bring to it? What twist comes from the way you see the world? What unique light do you shine on the human condition? You’ve been on this planet for a couple decades at least, and probably more if you’re reading this. You want to tell me you’ve picked up nothing of interest in all that time? Come ON.
So long as you’re not shamelessly ripping off another work – and make no mistake, the phrase “Nothing New Under the Sun” can be used as a crutch to justify laziness and non-creative imitation, and you know whether or not you’re doing it – then you owe it to the world to get your thing out there. Add your unique voice to the chorus. Tell the stories that only you can tell, draw the pictures that only you would draw, do that thing that you have been promising yourself and everyone else that one day you will do.
On the cusp of the new year, I wish you happiness, strength, and courage. I wish you discipline. I wish you wisdom to know the serious artistic crises from the trivial (and trust me, they are mostly trivial.) I wish you wealth, and health and love. But most of all, I wish you the joy that comes from Finally Doing That Thing.
2015 is your year. If you’ve been waiting, wait no more. I look forward to hearing about what you do!