Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Getting Discouraged

Kristopher Skelton operates Alchemy Forge. I think his primary interest is blademaking. I’ve never met him but have enjoyed reading his blog and viewing the website galleries.

In the blog I came across a second, or third, hand narrative which I feel has some wise advice as follows...

MONDAY, MAY 16, 2011

A reminder...

This was posted at Don Fogg's bladesmith forums by Alan Longmire, attributed to Ira Glass:

What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through. POSTED BY KRISTOPHER SKELTON

Being able to recognize good work and appreciate the beauty of fine craftsmanship and design is necessary yet not sufficient to producing such work. Practice, practice, practice is essential. Most things worthwhile are difficult to achieve and require dedication, discipline and persistence. I don’t think I have seen any masters who aren’t perfectionists.

For most of us the ideal is elusive and just beyond our grasp so each instantiation of our effort is a bit disappointing and we see how we might do better. Take a deep breath. Take another heat. Take another run at it.

Perhaps it was the word alchemy that set the environment for me to detect and connect the theme of striving and it reminded me of Goethe’s story, Faust. This tale is based on the medieval alchemist and magician Johann Faust, and in it Goethe concludes that man’s salvation lies in his striving and action. He observes that to err is human and as long as one is doing and striving, salvation is ultimately assured. In this metaphor success or satisfaction might better substitute for salvation.

1 comment:

  1. Amen to that! Some days I ask myself why the hell I do this work. Remember, no one looks good getting better. Whether its basketball, or riding a bike.

    Keep at it.


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