Perseverance, Self-Transcendence, and the “Slow Churn” of Creativity
Brain coral, 2,000 years old | Speyside, Tobago
A Conversation with Artist Rachel Sussman by Maria Popova. Read the full interview here:
MP: I want to talk a little bit about this notion of faith — ungrounded, unevidenced faith that carried you through.
A young woman recently reached out to me and asked for some advice, and complained that she had just started working for a major publication six weeks prior. She complained that she was really frustrated that she couldn’t build an audience in those six weeks, and she was ready to throw in the towel.
You’ve been doing this for a decade — you’ve been doing it completely guided by your own inner compass, inner radar, and not having any sort of solid positive reinforcement from the outside. What carried you through it, what gave you that center that told you this was something that had a sense of purpose on the scale of your life and defined success in terms other than immediate rewards?
RS: [Laughing] I certainly wasn’t in it for the immediate rewards.
I couldn’t not do it — that is the simplest answer. I felt so compelled by that idea, and it felt important to me that I see it through.
That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t terrifying along the way… It was quite a long battle just getting to the point where I felt this is something that really is worth my time and attention, and then I had the idea and I thought, “How am I ever going to do this idea justice?” And I grappled with that for a while. And over the years it just changed and transformed, and I grew more confident the more I looked at it. But it took that time. When I started … I didn’t know what I was doing, and these things revealed themselves to me by having that continued attention to it.
It’s hard to say what the magic ingredient is, other than perseverance. And, certainly, you can’t throw in the towel after six weeks.
When you feel compelled by an idea, and it's important to see it through, no matter how long it takes. Creativity takes time and perseverance, my friends. Keep at it!