Avoid becoming bitter

Resentment is an extremely bitter diet, and eventually poisonous. I have no desire to make my own toxins.
Neil Kinnock

I am currently listening to the “Savage Love” podcast, which is … interesting. And given my interests (and hopefully cognizant of the dangers this entails), some of the advice he gives about sex and relationships can be applied beautifully to the area of creativity.

One piece of advice he gives often to … more heavyweight women is that they are often rejected by men of their own age until they are about 30. At this time, male coevals who are romantically and sexually interested in heavyweight women learn to pursue what turns them on — and overcome the social pressure from their peers to date thin or normal weight women. The interesting piece of advice he gave to heavyweight women was not to become bitter in the meantime.

I think it directly relates to creativity as well.

It takes time to become creative — to be really good at what you do. And all the time you see others who have made it, who seem to have it easier, perhaps because they started earlier, or they had better teachers, are more talented, had a more supportive environment, had less distractions, more luck, whatever.

It can make you bitter and give up. It can make you cynical. It can make you become a bad critic or a bad translator/lector. It’s much, much easier to fall into this trap than to press on, no matter how important mastering the topic is for creative people.

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
Calvin Coolidge

Sure, if you notice that you have no talent for what you do, you should look for something that suits you more. You can change the domain or the medium. And you need to know how good the competition is if you want to make money out of your work. These are things that can and should stop you — if you cannot overcome them with persistent training. But otherwise, I think the focus should be on improving oneself, looking at one’s own progress, and avoiding to fall into that trap. If you look at many successful creative people — it took them a while. And a lot of work went into the trash-bin — directly or via a few rejections.

So, take care not to become bitter. Have other interests you follow and a social network that stabilizes you when times get tough. Otherwise you strangle your own creativity and prevent yourself from becoming successful — if (or hopefully rather when) your time comes.