April 27, 2016

The Thrill Of The Chase.

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Standing in my flat. My stomach a ball of nerves. Not knowing what on earth I was going to talk about in front of a room full of women who had paid money to listen to me saying something of value.

In most creative industries, a lot of conversation is all about the end goal. The “success”. The conclusion. The round of applause. The moment you can text your friend/mum/dad/person and say “I think I’ve made it.” The award. The deal. The box-tick. The big fancy job title. The cash-flow. The day you don’t have to worry any more. That day.

This, of course, is natural and normal. We want praise and we want validation in a world that needs a “stamp” before anyone will take you seriously. We attach ourselves to brands and logos in order to feel wanted and needed. The moment we can put a “big name” on our CV is the day we can feel more of A Someone. It’s the Textbook Guide To Success.

“Success” is often a distant dream, and from interviewing many successful people (in different industries) not many people really feel it when they have it. It appears to be difficult to feel successful in real-time. There’s always more you could be doing. Our successful “one day” dream is often a far away thought, an idea that “when I’m sixty!” I will be This or That. I will be [INSERT WORD HERE]. Successful? Respected? Rich? Free?

What’s the point if you don’t enjoy it along the way?

What are you really working towards?

Working towards someone else’s idea of success sounds as hollow as a hitting a fork against a tin can.

People talk about goals a lot. I got asked recently on a podcast how I feel about #goals when it comes to careers and I spoke about how I don’t have one big GOAL I just have smaller steps. Every day, every week, every month, if I’m moving even slightly forwards then I’m doing something right. I’m just moving. Onwards. Upwards. Even if it’s in inch, even it’s a tiny weeny little millimetre. Towards my own good vibes.

Let us take “success” back a few notches. Let’s start small.

Let’s treat success as actually getting out there and giving it your all.

It’s hard to stand-still really. Every day you are at least one day more wiser. It’s hard to stay EXACTLY on the same spot. Even one more email, or one more idea or one more conversation is at least one more thing that’s been done. Never underestimate the power of getting up in the morning and putting on your shoes and trying again.

I’ve realised that I like “the chase”. Like many people enjoy “the chase” of a romantic relationship (the flirty texts, the back and forth, the “WILL THEY, WON’T THEY?) I enjoy the “will they won’t they” of my creative pursuits. Will they like my pitch? Will they like my post? Will they BUY MY BOOK? Will my agent like my new idea? Will this TV producer want to work with me? It’s the chase. The tension, the excitement, the rejection, the trying again. I like that bit.

I like trying and then….seeing what happens.

And of course, I like it when something does happen.

But equally like just seeing if it might.

Nerves can be an OK thing to have. Not to the point of anxiety or pain, but I’m happy with a healthy level of “oh god what I am doing/what shall I do next?” At the Quarter Club last night I had to deliver a 10-min speech (which sounds simple enough) on the theme of “decision” – I didn’t want to fuck it up. I stood, breathed out and then belted into the microphone with a beer in my hand not knowing if what I was saying what resonating. I was trying though. This is another example of The Chase. I liked the nerves. I liked trying. I didn’t know if I would get a round of applause.

I find it helps me, to enjoy the chase: the trying, the doing of it, rather than only being happy when reaching an end goal.

It’s not a coincidence that a lot of “successful people” talk publicly about the anti-climax of a successful thing. I’ve heard in interviews actors telling their story of that one time they got a huge award, or authors who wrote a best-selling book or whatever that “thing” is, and then going home and feeling a bit empty afterwards. The praise will fizzle out. You will soon be back at where you started. The end goal cannot just be “it”. Success cannot just be “it”.

No one cares how many gold stars you have.

That’s because artists like making things. It’s the making of thing, not the glory of it all. Onto the next one. Onto the next one.

When my agent put my book proposal out on submission to the publishing houses last Summer this was meant to be most excruciating part. This was the bit I was meant to hate. Having to wait to see if someone wants it? Having your future in someone else’s hands?

But instead, asking myself “IS THIS GOING TO HAPPEN???” while teetering on the edge of possibility was the exciting part. That’s the chase. That’s what I want to continue doing. Creating things – and even if something gets rejected (I’ve had a LOT of rejections), I will continue chasing.

  • Oh my god Emma! Your words just hit me right on the heart. It’s the thrill of creating, the thrill of making not the product that keeps us going. This is why I don’t want to be one-hit-wonder anymore, I want to keep doing things. THIS is what success is, for me at least!

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“In love with Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete. So funny & smart, and reminding me of some of my own cringe teen Internet exploits!”

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