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2003-07-02 1:00 AM
The Cowardly Lion
Talent is a bitch.
Not only is it difficult to define, but it is exceedingly difficult to quantify, verify and adjudicate. What seems like talent to one individual can be a decided lack of talent to another. What one sees as genius another views as sophomoric. And we, the artists of the world--as human as human can be--have our worth based on the quantity, verification and adjudication of our product.
A wise man once said, "Being an artist is constantly having to prove your talent to people who have none." In the best cases of Artem celarus Artem, (Latin for "The art to hide the art") we are judged as less talented than some, because, as they saying goes, it looks effortless. Of course my job looks easy. That's because I'M doing it.
Yet when you have a talent, you know it. How do you know it? Because you do it. You can't help yourself. There's an ongoing sense of play that sends you gibbering off madly every time you get a chance to indulge yourself in your talent. When I'm writing my best stuff, I'm usually laughing like a madman. It's play.
But then when we're done, we have to show it to someone. Else. Someone who wants to quantify, verify and adjudicate. And you know, these people have there place. I mean, let's face it, how many terrible, terrible movies would we have sat through had we not heard the sage words of a critic whom we respected? How many bad novels passed over? Now, I don't know about you, but I don't want to waste my precious hours on bad ANYTHING. I have a lovely wife from whom I almost cannot stand to be away, and I have so many activities that give me joy that I don't want to waste the time I have on something . . . well, something that sucks.
Hence the blade slices backwards, and we artists who have yet to achieve a level of craft that evokes critical and popular praise sit and wonder. Am I any good? Can my amount of talent not be contained in a lake, or will a thimble amount nicely? We fear THEY. They that judge. They that say, "No thanks." They that say, "Next!" They that say, "Thank you for your story but it doesn't meet our needs at this time . . ."
We soooooo fear them, that what do we do? We silence the gleefull laughter and tell the fun that it's time to get down to business. And it turns into work. Deadly serious work. And of course, in every form of artistic endeavor, there is some work involved. But dammit! It shouldn't feel like work.
When it feels like work, your worried about failing. When you worry about failing, you realize that to fail, you have to try. So, in order to keep from failing, you stop trying.
And the world devours your soul from twelve-to-one with two fifteen minute breaks in between bites.
Friends, I'm here to tell you one thing:
I'd rather be a gleefull failure than a morbid success.
Don't be afraid of failure. Embrace it. Make it your friend. Once you've done that, don't be afraid to see it leave.
I''ll leave you with this:
"The world is full of stories of failures who didn't know how close they were to success when they gave up."
Don't give up. Don't ever give up.
Joseph Haines, signing off from The Edge of the Abyss.
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