Sorry for the long wait between blogs. Life.
If you’ve read my older blogs, you know that I’m interested in the creative process as well as success, and how the two work together. Or don’t. Here’s one thing I know about success in the creative fields: it’s utterly unpredictable. You can do exactly what a hugely successful person in your given field did, but you’ll come up with a completely different outcome. The main thing is to keep plugging away, and be prepared. But what does being prepared mean? Obviously, knowing your craft is a big part of it. But there’s something else to it that isn’t discussed much . . .
When I was a teenager, I saw actor Thomas G. Waites in two prominent supporting roles (“The Warriors” and “And Justice for All,” both released in 1979). He was obviously talented and an up and coming star. But then I didn’t see him again until John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” in 1982, again in a prominent supporting role. Then . . . nothing. I forgot all about him. Then, many years later, I saw him on an episode of “NPYD Blue.” I think I recognized him by his voice, because he was older and bloated. It made me wonder how this actor, who was obviously talented and on the verge of big things, seemed to have disappear. Well, I found out in a recent podcast interview with him. He talked about his instant success at a young age, and about how difficult he was. “Pain in the ass” is the term he used, more than once. What he didn’t say but what was obvious to me was this: he had success right out of the box and he did everything he could to sabotage it. And eventually, he did.
I don’t mean to pick on Thomas Waites. He’s a fine actor and has made a living at his craft. But we always hear about self-destructive artists who succeed despite themselves (the examples are countless). I wanted to give an example of someone whose success was hampered by their self-destructive behavior. What was his issue? It's up to him to figure that out. But this much, I'm sure about: he wasn't prepared.
Getting back to my original point. Preparation isn't just about doing the work. It's also about being able to handle things emotionally. It's about being ready for the good stuff. When success comes knocking, you don’t want to slap it in the face. It may stay away for a long time. Or forever . . .