Last month, I met with my friend Kristen and had one of these meaningful and inspiring conversations that few people trigger in me.
Kristen is now a journalist in New York. But before she got into this, she started as an actress on Broadway, then studied neuroscience before dropping everything for a crazy trip across Europe where we met.
We have known each other for a while, she has patiently supported me into all my artistic projects. But last month when we met, I confessed to her that I was not so sure I had the necessary talent to justify all the sacrifices and ambitions I have set for myself.
As a response, she quoted one of her masters, producer and host Ira Glass, well known for the radio and TV show This American Life! In a 4 parts interview on storytelling, Ira Glass explains how creative people do not begin their careers as the geniuses they sometimes end up as. Him included.
« Creative people get into this because they have good taste. But when they start, what they produce isn’t so good. It has the ambition to be good, it is trying to be good. But no matter what, it is not that good. »
As Kristen was quoting Ira Glass, I was thinking this guy knew exactly what was what. And so did my persistent friend. No faffing around, no pretending, just the exact feeling I have had since I first started studying film. I know what is good, I can tell. And I had the same feeling when I was more into music. I studied music for 15 years and am still able to tell whether someone has any musical talent or not. However, my taste has never made me a better performer. I can tell that too. But Kristen continued her story:
« Your taste is still a killer. And by working really hard, you will end up filling that gap between the quality of what you produce and what you expect it to be ».
This conversation, as short as it was over a dish of ramen, changed my whole perspective. Suddenly, it was ok not to be good yet. And the idea I had of myself being able to assess my work and others’ is not delusional. It’s a fact.
I only need another 10 years to actually become good at this. The only issue I could have had so far was to work endlessly, for nothing. But since Kristen (Ira Glass) said it, I’ll be ok.
Maybe this will help comfort you into your own choices, whether they are in photography, film, music, dancing or any other creative work.
As always, you’re welcome to get in touch with me if you want to discuss this further or have any questions.