One of the flaws of an ambitious creative is our hunger to be the best and to be the best right this minute. It’s all-consuming. We’re desperate to leave our mark on the world and mercilessly hope the mark is profound. A trap many of us fall into (myself included) is being so desperate for legitimacy and opportunity that we run before we’re ready to walk.
I’ve made a lot of rubbish in my (albeit very young) life, because I’m constantly searching for the next great thing (prematurely), but there is something very positive and nurturing to be said for marinating with your craft. Some of my biggest regrets are moments I’ve not stopped to smell the flowers. Moments pass by too quickly to muse upon and before you know it, those moments turn into a memory. How I wish I could go back to when I made that first amateur short, or first financed short and just enjoy every single second without the next career step haunting me. As I work now, I try to enjoy every word I write, every meeting, and every opportunity.
We all romanticise the idea of being a young prodigy, but with age comes experience and maturity – two things I believe are essential if you want to be a great artist. I’ve heard stories of inexperienced writers shooting for the most competitive opportunities (I, too, have been guilty of this in the past) and I can’t help but think, why now? Why not wait until you know you have something so special they can’t possibly say no? Why not wait until you are absolutely certain your idea or story will be the best? Why go for this opportunity when there is still so much to learn? While you shouldn’t wait forever, wait until you’re ready. It’s hugely competitive – hugely. Hundreds, if not thousands of people, will shoot for that same shot you are and you have to be the best to be successful.
As a summarisation, I’d like to talk about the last two years of my life studying for an MA. I’ve been studying an MA in Creative Writing part-time since 2019 and the first year flew by. I didn’t have time to enjoy it and now, as I’m prepping my dissertation, I preemptively grieve for this incredible period of my life. Coming onto the MA, after a short time of trying to ‘make it’ as a writer, has given me more than I could’ve dreamed for. I’ve always considered myself foremost a collaborator and a team player, and for the first time, I feel like I have my identity and voice as an artist and I’ve learned to be a bit selfish with my creativity. Being surrounded by such incredible, raw talent has humbled me. I’m a different person now: I’m someone who has a better understanding of their identity, someone with sturdy self-confidence, and I’m self-assured. Taking these two years to focus on the fundamentals of being a writer, understanding what it means to be a wordsmith and stewing with all the questions that come with that – well, that experience is priceless and breathtaking. This period, solely focusing on my identity, as opposed to querying half-baked work and just trying to get my name out there, has made me ask: why am I in such a rush to be a success this minute?
I’ve not written this to discourage people. Far from it. I want everyone to feel this nutrition I’ve felt from having taken the journey I have. I’ve been able to financially support myself whilst studying the MA part-time, and in doing so, it’s given me longer to use the MA to my advantage. In the beginning, I was disappointed I’d have to spend an extra year due to not being able to afford to do it in a singular year, but these two years have changed my life in the best way.
It is true that life is short, but enjoy building your beautiful foundation so that you can enjoy living in an even more beautiful house.