I’ve had this quote from Ira Glass saved for awhile, but one of my closest friends, Valerie, sent it to me this week — a very trying week for me — and it is so incredibly profound to me now that I’m trying my very best to remember it.
Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, and I really wish somebody had told this to me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there is this gap. For the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good. It’s not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not that good. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you. A lot of people never get past that phase. They quit. Everybody I know who does interesting, creative work they went through years where they had really good taste and they could tell that what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. Everybody goes through that. And if you are just starting out or if 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. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you’re going to finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you’re going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions. I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It takes awhile. It’s gonna take you a while. It’s normal to take a while. You just have to fight your way through that.
Here’s what I read this week:
1. I’ve been following Jedidiah Jenkins on Instagram for awhile, and he’s in the middle of writing a book about riding his bike from Oregon to Patagonia. Based on this essay, I’m even more excited for his book to arrive.
2. The A.V. Club covered Force Friday in Chicago and it sounded insane. There are a lot of components to this that stuck with me: that this was a marketing and PR ploy more than anything else when it really should have been about the fans and the ethos, that people didn’t end up getting what they wanted and that the merchandise sounded and looked sub-par.
3. This discussion about freelance writing in 2015 and the state of online media is actually pretty frightening. I think it is a Real Problem when it’s more lucrative for writers to write multiple shallow articles than it is to write an in-depth longread. (Also, if you don’t click through to read the essay, he doesn’t get paid.)
4. Apparently there’s a story behind the company most famous for boxed wine that is essentially a soap opera. (I have never and will never understand the appeal of slap the bag.)
5. Do you miss Oliver Sacks? I miss Oliver Sacks a lot. This essay about his relationship with gefilte fish is very important.
And a bonus: These photos of David Bowie from the Ziggy Stardust era are everything.
Have a wonderful weekend.