We’re all waiting for an opportunity, for our one shot. I just have a question.
Are you ready?
What if tomorrow THAT company called and said, “We think you have potential and we want to invest in your startup.”
What if this afternoon you got an email from a literary agent saying, “Hey we read one of your published short stories and we liked it. Do you have a novel we could take a look at?”
What if your band was approached to play at a major gig next week, potentially showcasing your fresh sounds to a huge new audience?
What if it happened right now? Are you ready for that?
If this doesn’t make you pee your pants a little bit in terror, then, my friend, you just don’t care enough about your dream. Or your dream is boring.
Side note about dreams. When people hashtag #livingthedream on things like having a great day off or swimming at the beach or lunch, I kinda want to punch them in the face coz, what the heck dude is that seriously your dream?! I dream about being the president of the world (the whole world) so I can boss everyone around and have a personal masseur. I dream about having a keyboard player following me around playing the live soundtrack to my daily life. I dream about writing a million books, reading a million books, spreading love and joy around the planet, world peace, a world without crocs, a world without poverty, hate and self-loathing. I too enjoy coffees and holding hands and swimming in the ocean, but that is not The Dream, that’s just a nice intermission. The Dream is bloody hard work. *rant over*
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Particularly in the context of creative practice and production. A while ago I was reading articles about young fashion designers Bec and Bridge who started straight out of uni (UTS represent). A friend of theirs walked into a shop wearing their customised jeans and the owner called them and ordered 120 pairs, forcing them to quickly learn about production and ship ship ship! Every fashion student probably has that dream of having their own label launched into the stratosphere by winning a start up prize and serendipitous opportunities like these women have had. But I wonder if anyone stops to think about how much hard work goes into grabbing opportunity with both hands and taking off. In interviews with Bec and Bridge they talk about spending all their time at uni working on assessments and on their fledgling label (which at that point NO-ONE cared about). About using every opportunity they had to work on the business: designing, creating, developing a website, marketing etc. The opportunities were amazing, but their success came because they did something with it.
Sometimes I think that opportunity is a luck of the draw thing. I don’t know if some people get more opportunities than others or maybe some people just see opportunities more than others? Whatever the case your opportunity is coming, it’s on it’s way. But to be truly great, to make the kind of impact that you and I long for we need to be good enough to warrant success and we need to be willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.
I don’t have a definition for “good enough”, but you must understand that just because you like it, doesn’t mean that it will go to market. If what you’re creating is purely for yourself, that is SO ok! Not everyone wants to make a big deal of what they are doing. Creating for the joy of the experience is totally valid and completely wonderful! There are a plethora of incredible visionaries and artists who were not widely celebrated by their contemporaries.
If you do want to make a big deal of it, you’ve got to work it:
1. Create. Put the time aside in your day or week to pump out your 500 or 5000 words. Go to the painting cave and don’t you dare come out until it’s done. Write 20 awful songs until you get one that you like. Produce some worthy of attention. No excuses.
2. Care. You are the only person who cares about this part of you right now. Others may love and care for you, but no-one knows what it will cost you to give this thing life. You have care more about this than anyone else, you have to care about it EVEN IF no one else ever does. You have to practice while no-one is watching, you have to sweat over it quietly for as long as it takes.
3. Ship. Put it on your website. Share it with/ sell it to your friends and family. Book gigs or market stalls or art galleries. Submit your poems to publishers. Audition. Do it for free, do it for a feed, do it in exchange for something, just do it!
4. Refine. Look you’re probably pretty good, but don’t ever be so arrogant (or insecure) that you can’t accept quality feedback. If a good editor makes some suggestions, thank them for their time and do something with those suggestions. If no-one is coming to your gigs or they don’t buy your EP afterwards, work on new stuff – try a new direction or just be more disciplined about practising! If you’re having a little success, but not breaking through to your sales goals, do a short course on small business marketing, contact a business owner you admire and arrange a skype chat or coffee. Don’t settle for average, you could be a few tweaks away from glorious.
*Another note: Please don’t ask for feedback or advice if you’re not going to do anything with it, because that would make you an askhole. Don’t be an askhole. Also, don’t keep flogging the same old stuff to the same people, there’s probably a reason they haven’t bought, watched or engaged yet. If you’re feeling brave ask a friend why they aren’t interested then change your product or change who you’re marketing to. Rethink. Refine. Keep going.
5. Make friends. This is actually really underrated, but make friends with like minded people. Make friends with creative people from different fields. At times they’ll inspire you, at times they’ll challenge you (or make you froth with jealousy so much that it forces you to step your game up). Other times they’ll be the ones to talk you off the ledge when you want to throw it all in. There are more opportunities than ever to connect online and offline. No-one likes self-absorbed and wormy networking, but everyone loves an authentic and encouraging connection with someone who gets it. If you’re reading this, you probably are my friend (or my mother) and I love you for coming back every week and reading all the way to the end even when I get all ranty and use too many words that all mean the same thing. If you’re reading this and you’re not my friend yet, what are you waiting for? You can subscribe, or find me on Instagram, or write to me and tell me where to find your stuff. Creatives unite!
“I will study and prepare, and someday my opportunity will come.”
– Abraham Lincoln