Neil Gaiman, gave one of the best commencement speeches ever.
It was so good, it was one of the top posts on Farnam Street in 2012.
While the speech was full of useful wisdom, one of the best parts, for me, was the near the beginning.
When you start out on a career in the arts you have no idea what you are doing.
This is great. People who know what they are doing know the rules, and know what is possible and impossible. You do not. And you should not. The rules on what is possible and impossible in the arts were made by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible by going beyond them. And you can.
If you don’t know it’s impossible it’s easier to do. And because nobody’s done it before, they haven’t made up rules to stop anyone doing that again, yet.
Now he’s put that speech into a book, Make Good Art.
And when things get tough, this is what you should do.
Make good art.
I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually, time will take the sting away, but that doesn’t matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.
Make it on the good days too.
Pair with David Foster Wallace’s This is Water