6.33 Ignore the Noise

Last week, I was out for a coffee with a friend of mine. We got to know each other through a project we worked on together, where she provided some much needed guidance and insight. When we met for coffee, I needed some more of her much needed guidance and insight. I've repeated one thing she told me thousands of times since then: ignore the noise. A couple of weeks before this coffee, I got in touch with a woman who was looking for authors. She claimed to be able to take a book and make it into an Amazon bestseller. Since I have written a book and it was far from being a bestseller (so far), I inquired. Although I'm inherently cynical about such claims, through my cynicism, I do try and give people the benefit of the doubt. But I'm not really interested to talk about whether her services worked or not. I will say I chose not to develop a professional relationship with this person because of her approach, which made me think of a lot of things. Things that I'm sure were not her intention.

First, quality. I explained to this person that I believe in doing my best to produce works of quality, and that this can be difficult and time consuming, especially if it is personal. Her response was that I somehow tricked myself into believing that writing a book is hard and in doing so, I'm limiting myself. This made me think about the kind of work I want to put out there. Maybe I should start pumping out one shitty book after another? Hell, maybe I can write one every couple of weeks? If the sole purpose of writing your book is that it becomes an Amazon bestseller, please don't write that book

Second, contentment. She commented on how sad I sounded about my book. That authors should be happy with their work because that is infectious and soon people will be lining up to buy your book. Now, I understand and somewhat agree with the concept that the final version of a product is largely informed by how it is created. This person obviously never considered looking at any of the links to my work that I sent her or even thought to perhaps check out my online profile. If she did, it's pretty clear the amount of energy, passion and work I put into what I do. I mean, it wouldn't take long for her to see that all this work is pretty intertwined with my life. And plus, happy? Of course I can not be happy with my work. How do you get better by just going around thinking everything you do is great?

Third, creativity, passion and experts. We've created a world of monsters. We've built a culture that praises creativity and passion. Creativity and passion are both good things. But you have to actually make stuff to be considered a creative person. You need something to be passionate about. I don't mean you have to specifically make art, creativity can be found in many places. It just bugs me that the concept has been co-opted by someone like her who is not creating anything. Not adding anything to the culture overall. But she's very passionate. I couldn't tell from her emails. Long emails that really didn't say much. But, I've seen it again and again that we need to be passionate about our work. Better watch out if you got a whole lot of passion and no depth to your work. No matter how much passion you have, you might not even make it as an Amazon bestseller. There has also been a rise in the demand of experts. Experts are the most annoying people. They also have a lot of passion. In the business world, we're taught to assert ourselves by claiming we are the expert in any given situation. When a person claims they are an expert, it mostly consists of them telling everyone else how wrong they are. Like I said, annoying. To the experts out there: sometimes you just need to shut the fuck up and maybe you'll learn something.

There is one thing I’d like to say to the person that I had these exchanges with, something that I failed to communicate because I felt that after a few of her responses, she was not listening. So, I’d rather write it here instead of it falling on deaf ears. It’s unproductive to make assumptions about another person’s work. I’ve been putting myself out there for many years, too many, really.  Before you feel that you can comment on any of it, understand that I’ve stood up in front of rooms full of people and bared my soul right down to the core. Put out things that were (hopefully) well crafted and as emotionally true as I could make them. I’ve done all I can to make things that connect to people and I believe some of it has been successful. Before distilling all of this work into your simplistic framework, perhaps you should attempt - just even attempt - to understand what motivates people. She said that I sounded ‘sad’ about my work, what makes me sad is there are people out there like this that are making others who are actually doing the work, putting stuff out there, putting themselves out there, and making them feel that it means nothing without the superficial labels she is selling. Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but I have no more patience for this kind of crap, and dear reader, neither should you.

So, I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing. Ignore the noise. Listen to those that deserve to be listened to. Do stuff. I want to be around people doing stuff. Trust me, I've put a lot of thought into this work I do, it's constantly evolving and it makes me happier than anything else. I put myself into my work without compromise, sometimes recklessly. It's the only way I know how. You might say I'm a bit of an expert on the topic.

***I was interested to use this experience as a discussion and not to vilify someone, that is why no names were used. I am not one to discourage people from opportunities, however, this case is different. if you are an author and would like to know what company I’ve been talking about (so you can stay away from them), please contact me directly.