I don’t like Taxi drivers talking to me. I prefer them to keep looking at the road and keep the conversation to its bare minimum. Why? Well, if we get talking they usually end up asking what I do for a living. When I say I’m an animator (I’ve not had the courage to say I’m a writer yet!) they often look confused and I have to resort to, “You know, cartoons,” which is nowhere near accurate but it gets us close to the right area. The driver usually smiles, asks a few more questions and says something like, “that must be a really interesting job!”
And it is! Working in the creative industries can be fun, but like any job it does have its down days. I think people who do ‘real’ jobs sometimes forget our jobs can be just as stressful and tiring as any other line of work – it just looks like more fun from the outside. After all, we don’t wear suits! But we still get dark days. Its on those days that you can find yourself wondering why you do it. Life would be easier doing one of those ‘normal’ jobs, wouldn’t it? Besides, the world is full of writers, artists, animators, musicians and poets. What’s so special about what I have to say? What’s so clever about my drawing that means I have to share it with the world? Well, in truth the answer is both nothing and EVERYTHING! The reason we do it is because we can – we WANT to do it. We want to do good work that’s appreciated. We want to add our mark to the creative landscape. And hopefully we can make a living doing it – if we’re very lucky!
But in spite of that creative drive we all have days where the hill is just too high. The summit is so far away it’s not even worth starting the climb! I’ve had a fair few of those days, and I finding myself stopping, wondering why I didn’t bring a map, why I’m wearing slippers and not hiking boots. Then I remember this is just a metaphor, and slippers are just fine. And the map? Well, we make up our own maps, don’t we?
When I was having one of those days recently I was moaning to friend and author, Dan Smith, and he gave me this perfect little gem of advice: “Just keep plodding on.”
It’s simple, but so true. Just keep plodding on, one step at a time, even on those mapless days. I saw this advice echoed to me again when I was re-watching Finding Nemo:
Just keep plodding on, just keep swimming, and eventually you’ll get somewhere, even if you’re not wearing the right shoes.