Visualizing those who have ‘made it’

Written by Brendan O’Meara

Quick hit here. I’m having one of those weeks where it’s tough to get anything of merit accomplished. What better thing to do than BLOG about it!

What I like to do when I feel this sense of fear and procrastination is picture the artists I admire (writers, film makers, painters) working and realize that they got to the computer, the set, and the easel and did the work.

Bill Burr has a great line in the latest Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. When Burr did Letterman, Burr said:

Just having to take all of that anxiety and fear and put this over here for the next six minutes. I’m gonna walk out and I’m gonna get this crowd. These are pepole who were just at the fuckin’ M&M store. I can make these people laugh. I’m gonna block out that that icon is sitting over there and I can hear him laugh or not laugh at my shit.

That’s fear. Most artists feel it.

For me, picturing that I’m not alone in my fear is comforting. Any time you step out from the minor leagues is going to be harrowing. Everyone in the Show throws 90 MPH. There’s no let up in the Show. In high school you’ll get one kid who can pop it off at 80, but most throw in the 60s. There’s relief. When you “make it,” you’re facing lightning every day. That’s the nature of the Show.

This post is about fear and I’m procrastinating because of the heavy feeling that I’m in too deep and I haven’t reached my standard. There’s a tightness in the chest that comes with thinking of this stuff too much. The only thing you can do is lose yourself in the work. Don’t watch a movie (even if it’s for research). Don’t read a book (even if it’s for research). Do what it is that you’re supposed to be doing.

Drain the damn well.

Up the Down, a new passion project


Written by Brendan O’Meara

This is something I’m currently struggling with and I imagine I have company.

This phrase I call “up the down” is a type of career track. Imagine you just got off the train at the World Trade Center. You’re about to head up from underground to the city. You have three ways of surfacing:

  1. Walk up the stairs (good for physical fitness, but harder)
  2. Walk up the up escalator (this is a Viking longboat all paddling in unison)
  3. Walk up the down (despite all your effort, you go nowhere)

Now imagine three people have the same/similar talent(s) and walk at the same pace. One systematically climbs up the stairs (though winded). One flies up the up escalator with the same effort. The other stays put and watches as the other two get away. He gets tired. He gets bitter. He may even give up.

The fundamental question is: How do you get on the right track? How do you stop going up the down? How can you avoid stepping onto the down escalator to begin with?

For the past few years, despite what some may consider nice accomplishments (awards, a well-received book, magazine and online by-lines), I’ve been walking up the down. I know this because I’ve watched peers, some a little older, most younger, fly past me to magazines of notoriety and the praise that comes with it.

At some point, we all want validation in our craft. Getting work placed at reputable publications feels good spiritually and they tend to pay more. I’m not trying to get rich. I just want to be able to turn the heat up past 55 degrees in the winter. Seeing your breath in your own house is sobering (not to mention freakin’ cold. I type with fingerless gloves.).

I can’t be alone. I’m not looking for shortcuts. Why try and cut down a tree with a steak knife if a chainsaw is available?

A goal of mine is to speak with freelancers and other creatives who either were fortunate enough to get on the right track, or, maybe of more value, how did they go from up the down to up the up.

I’d like to write a short ebook and make it available for people who follow this blog, past and future.

Selfishly, this is for me, but maybe I can help some other people who need a hand.