The Graphs of Success

A reminder to myself to keep going.

The most difficult thing about having creative aspirations:

I care too much what other people think.

If you plot a graph of ‘success’ vs time/effort, we’re primed for it to look like y = x:

A linear graph.

A linear graph. 

You do a little bit of work, you make a little bit of progress — and so on, until you retire.

That’s what people expect of me. Deep down, that’s what I expect of me.

But most creative endeavours look more like y = ex:

An exponential graph.

An exponential graph. 

Which is annoying, because for most of the beginning, that looks exactly like y = 0:

A hopelessly flat graph.

A hopelessly flat graph. 

And you never know how long it’ll look like that. It might even be forever.

And it is really, really uncomfortable to be on a graph that looks like y = 0.

That’s why I spent so many years getting sucked in by full-time day jobs that were way too draining. They gave me that sense of progress. Sure, they might not have been aligned with my definition of success, but at least the graph was the right shape!

That’s also why I stuck with stand-up longer than I should have. It was fun, but it was never what I really wanted to do: make narrative comedy. But it offered a faster graph, because I could show people my work. I could gig, I could do Edinburgh shows, I could make people laugh — whereas I could chip away at a script for months, and no-one would know if it was any good.

Heck, even I wouldn’t know.

But I guess I just have to keep reminding myself that there’s one big difference between an exponential graph and a hopelessly flat graph. The ending.

I just need to stick around long enough to find out which one I’m on.

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