Luck Pt.3

Luck presents a convenience, the convenience to say you were simply unlucky, instead of putting your hands up and saying you fucked up. I’ve spoken before in articles about how luck is often attributed to success, but this time I want to discuss how luck, or a supposed lack thereof, is attributed to failure.

As a writer, I literally depend on others for the success of my work. I create a product, package it accordingly, and present it to the world for absolutely anyone to see. Once it leaves my possession and becomes a part of the internet or print world that it’s being assigned to, I no longer have control over it’s success, my part of the deal is done. It all bubbles down to whether or not people read it, and whether or not they receive it well. In the process before handover of that product, I do absolutely everything I can to refine my work. I make sure I research something as best I can, stick to writing about things in which I know I hold at least a respectable level of knowledge in, and I comb through it with precision, making sure that errors are eradicated.

Despite all of the work which can often take days, sometimes even weeks, the work just still simply doesn’t generate any sort of interest. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell people to read the article, or promote it, sometimes it just doesn’t hit the sweet point I was aiming for. The truth of the matter is that nobody ever hits that sweet point ten out of ten times. It’s simply not realistic. Bare with me, because despite this being something important, this isn’t quite the extent of the point I’m trying to make.

Whilst sometimes work doesn’t quite hit the sweet spot, other times it falls way, way short, resulting in failure. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve done something wrong per se, it can also be that it just wasn’t received as well as you’d hoped on the other side. You see, regardless of what it is you do, you’re usually relying on the reception of people as your success. You can be a plumber, a painter, a chef or a filmmaker. You could do a great job, but if the people don’t receive you well, you will face potential failure. If you have a great product yet a terrible understanding of people, you will fail. If you have a terrible product yet a great understanding of people, you will fail. At some point in your life, you will experience both sides of this. Sometimes your product will be wrong, other times you’ll be trying to give a product to people who just simply don’t want it. Both of these things will result in failure, but that’s okay.

This is where people, more often than not, start attributing their failure to bad luck, instead of putting their hands up and saying they failed. Instead of saying ‘Okay, I guess I got it wrong this time’, they say something along the lines of ‘I guess it wasn’t supposed to be’, or ‘I guess luck wasn’t on my side this time’. In my mind, this sign of denial only creates a longer lasting negative impact on future success. If you cannot identify your failure and admit to it, then you cannot find a solution.

I’m not shy of failure in my life, if anything I’m open to it. Without understanding and experiencing the hardship of failing, you can never truly understand why you’re chasing success. I’ve learnt from every instance of failure. I understand that at 18, when I tried to run a business for the first time, I didn’t have bad luck in it going wrong, I fucked up. I failed. When I was 19 and tried to write my first screenplay, I didn’t have bad luck, it was absolutely terrible. I failed. Identifying these two instances as failure straight away helped me with my successes at 20 and 21. They helped me with my next writing project. They helped me with photography. They helped me with my next business ideas and ventures.

In the same way none of my successes have been the result of good luck, none of failures have been the result of bad luck. They’re the result of myself. Whether in product, or in reception, whenever I’ve failed it’s been the result of my failure to get a certain aspect right. The same with your failings.

The quicker you’re able to put your hands up and say ‘I failed’ and still remain confident in future successes, the quicker they’ll come.

Fuck luck.

Do It For The Portfolio

Article also available to read on Medium.

I’m sick to death of hearing those words. They’re the words of businesses or people who seek to hire creatives for a job with little-to-no budget. They have a spec list the length of their arm, requirements that are similar to that of a well-paid career job, and expectations of someone who has paid the earth for the service; yet still, they don’t have a budget to pay, so can you just do it to boost your portfolio?

As both a writer and photographer who leaves his contact information open for anyone to see, I cannot even estimate how many emails and social media messages I have recieved from countless individuals representing such-and-such a company. ‘We love your work’ they say, ‘We’d love to have you onboard for an upcoming project’ they continue. I usually only have to reply once, asking for a spec list and budget, which will tell me everything I need to know about the job. The spec list — what needs to be done, the budget — how much funding they’re providing the project, including my pay.

This is usually the point in which the most unusual sentences get formed. ‘Well, at present we are unable to offer this work as a paid project, however, eventually we’d like to be a in a position in which it is financially viable to pay you for your future work. We are, however, willing to provide you with excellent feedback for your future work, and the chance to work on a project which will expand your already fantastic portfolio’. Which after being translated from corporate language translates to something equal to ‘You’re not getting paid a penny, nor will you be if you work for us many times, however, we’ll pretend that we want to pay you’.

After this second email I usually mark their emails as spam and stop replying. They’re not worth mine, or any creative’s time. Sadly, however, we seem to be living in a day and age where this is becoming far more common. Worse still, people seem to think it’s acceptable.

Choosing to pursue a career in the creative industries is a bold step first-and-foremost. Anyone can tell you that despite how it’s sold as something glamorous and incredible, it’s incredibly hierarchal. Sure, you get to do the thing you love doing, the thing that you’re good at, but making a real name for yourself and furthermore making good money is reserved for those who are at the top of their game. Companies who dominate the creative fields have a very good understanding of this, too. Unless you already have a name for yourself, you undoubtedly will have companies trying to take advantage of your position, offering you little-to-no-pay. The only way around this is perhaps if you have a physical product to sell, and even then you are up against a brutal marketplace which picks and chooses it’s favourites of the moment.

Everything we love in life is brought to us by a creative. Television. Books. Technology. Art. Photography. Every piece of furniture in your house was designed by someone with a passion for that piece of furniture. Creative individuals play a bigger role in our lives than we know or credit them for. Yet still, as a society we have grown to accept that they get chewed up and spat out, and we not only do nothing about it, it seems to be acceptable.

How do we encourage young people to pursue a life inside a creative industry if they know that they will get paid very little money, if any at all, for their hard work? How do we encourage young people to carry on doing the artwork he or she loves, when the company that asked them to do it is only prepared to pay through the means of feedback or reference? How extensive does a portfolio have to be before ones work becomes valued with something that can help pay their bills?

How many times do I have to hear ‘Can’t you just do it for the portfolio?’.

Reaching The Summit

Article also available to read on Medium.

We’re always searching for something, right? Be it a job, a home, a lover, a friend, or just some sort of contentedness or happiness. That something takes it’s form in endless possibilities, depending on endless factors, including the individual, time of life, and general outlook. Regardless of what it is, that thing we search for is the very thing that keeps us alive inside. It’s the summit at the top of the mountain that we climb toward. Without something to be in pursuit of, we simply exist with no purpose.

At 22 years old I find myself at the foothills of life. In a valley, if you will, surrounded by big, challenging metaphorical mountains, their jagged peaks and summits looking down at me, daring me to approach and challenge them. Each metaphorical mountain represents a pursuit for life. One may represent a career ladder, another being family, but the options are endless. They all come fully packed out with various obstacles, designed to test your strength, your courage, your commitment and your endurance, but they also all come with the opportunity of pursuit.

Being down in the imaginative valley is like being a kid in a sweet shop; a feeling of so much choice that you simply don’t know which to take. Of course, as with anything, there is only a limited amount of climbs that you make in one life, so they’re best being chosen carefully. An expert mountaineer may even come along and advise you on which mountain is the best, and how to get to the top. Such is life. Maybe their experience validates their opinion, but then again, only you can truly decide which one is for you, and you have to begin an approach at some point.

I apologise if breaking life choices down into a completely metaphorical scenario isn’t your cup of tea, but I assume if you’re this far in, you don’t mind metaphor. For me it makes life simpler when I declutter the jargon of the world and put it into perspective of my happy place, the mountains. You see, I really do see my life at the position of the bottom of the foothills, as I explained in a previous paragraph.

I’ve always had my eye on one metaphorical mountain in particular – travel. It’s the one I desperately want to climb first. The summit is right up there, almost piercing the sky, the sun giving it a mightily warm glow. It’s the climb that I’ve always believed will equip me so well to tackle other mountains in the future. A mountain full of so many potentially catastrophic obstacles, yet so many other climbers, all of whom have the same desire as me; experience.

Okay, I’m ditching the metaphor now, it has served its purpose.

We all have to choose what we do with our limited time on this incredible earth. We can’t possibly do everything, because each thing takes up a chunk of time. Sure, you can try and do various things simultaneously, but you have to also understand that not all pursuits go hand-in-hand. For example, it’s no good attempting to get your first mortgage whilst also trying to travel to the other side of the world. However, it doesn’t mean that they can’t both be done within the time we have. That business you want to own? It may have to wait whilst you study that dream subject, but again, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it. This is why I choose the metaphor of mountains, because you have to choose which summit you want to conquer. One at a time.

For me mountains are the best representation of life. They can metaphorically represent everything we do. To reach every goal is an uphill struggle, and anyone who’s ever stepped foot on a mountain knows that getting to a summit or peak is one hell of an uphill struggle. Where there’s obstacles on a mountain, there’s obstacles in life. A crevasse can easily be a metaphor for an illness of yourself or loved one. Those slippery ice walls are like money. Sometimes no matter how hard you try to earn more to be financially free, you can just slip back down through no fault of your own. Does it mean you should stop? Of course not.  Despite it all, the summit will still be there, looking down at you. You’ll still have that desire to reach the top, and no obstacle should stop you from pushing on.

That summit is the most important thing. That summit is the place you have envisioned yourself the whole time you’ve dreamed of that mountain. That summit is a metaphor for the dream you hold. The position in a company, or maybe even your own. Becoming a mother or father. Owning your own property. It’s whatever you want it to be.

You’re not going to be all alone on those mountains, you’re going to meet other climbers who have the same goal as you. You’re going to meet people who despite giving it their all just couldn’t make it to the top. Maybe they’ll try again at some point, maybe they’ll find a different mountain to conquer. The most important thing is that you make it. The most important thing is that you don’t give up when the climb becomes tough.

Just think of the view from the summit. I can’t wait to see it.

Those pesky influential celebs

Article also available to read on Medium.

Celebrities all seem to have a political opinion now, don’t they? How dare they? How dare a human being — who received fame and following as a by-product of doing something they love — have an opinion, and put it out into the public? Why can’t they stick to doing whatever it is that made them famous in the first place? Why can’t they stick to watching the world burn from their cash fortresses, amongst the rest of the metropolitan elites?

Ever since the rise of social platforms such as Twitter, celebrities have found ways of not only self-promoting in a much faster and simpler fashion, but also of promoting campaigns and political views. No longer do they rely on the traditional media machine to churn out what they want to express, they have their own way of doing just that in their pocket.

It’s something that seems to be increasingly alarming to journalists everywhere, especially those on the right-leaning side. Every day in newspaper columns and online articles, a journalist for some once-respectable news organisation is slandering a name, be it Lily Allen or Meryl Streep, for simply offering their views on current political climates and perhaps even politicians themselves.

Perhaps Russell Brand was a prime example a few years back, just prior to the UK general election. Russell used his YouTube channel ‘Trews’ to not only air his political views on certain subjects, but also create a movement. Whilst I was personally opposed to his views, mostly due to his admittance of refusal to vote, despite actually wanting the system to change, I respected his right to do so. Some journalists, however, took delight in ripping him apart in their version of media.

Russell Brand’s case of celebrity opinion versus press is perhaps the best case to look at. It represents the power struggle perfectly. You see, there’s a very simply reason as to why the mainstream media and journalists typically don’t want to have celebrities and online personalities having voices without using them as a middle-man; because the celebrities and personalities have much more of an influence and reach.

Online platforms are quite literally eating away massive chunks of readership/viewership for traditional media. Celebrities now no longer feel the need to be sat in front of a camera talking to every single chat show host, nor do they feel the need to be interviewed by every entertainment columnist; they can do their own PR and promotion instantly with their phones. Why give an interview that can be edited in a biased way, when you can say what you want within minutes, directly to your supporters?

This is simply petrifying to not only some journalists, but editors, too. Why? Because they don’t have control. They don’t necessarily hold the same level of influence that they got used to having. They can’t run campaigns of slander in such an easy way. Social media has helped take the power influence out of the select few, and began to distribute it down to anyone who chooses to go for it.

We no longer require newspapers for gossip columns, there’s live gossip feeds everywhere you turn online. We require the traditional media for serious reporting, such as holding governments, politicians, businesses, businessmen and organisations to account in a way which reflects their audience. We require traditional media to report on things that are completely unavailable to those of us who don’t hold press passes. We require traditional media to act honestly and with integrity, serving the public useful information that can only progress society. That undoubtedly strikes fear into the hearts of journalists and editors using their power solely for personal gain.

The young generation are already disenfranchised with traditional media, any further alienation will only lead to the cord being cut entirely. Gone are the days in which traditional media had the ability to slander a celebrity or personality and then silence them when they tried to explain, that power has been rightly stripped of them in this era of technology. If the old system doesn’t wake up and realise it’s new environment, then technology will only strip it further.