if someone successful tells you how to become successful, plug your ears. if someone unsuccessful tells you how to become successful, run away. they both will immediately tell you about how the successful artist simply tried harder. this is a lie.
emily dickenson wrote constantly and submitted her works to publications only to have them roundly rejected. daniel johnston recorded numerous tape recordings and handed them out to anyone that would pay him any attention at the various minimum wage jobs he held. weezer’s pinkerton record was denounced by critics and given 3 stars by rolling stone, who called the work “juvenile.” today, dickenson is lauded as a genius, johnston helped shape the shapers of 90s alternative culture, and thanks to rolling stone’s five star re-review, pinkerton has a metacritic rating of 100.
as an unsuccessful artist, i cling to these examples. i’d be lying if i said it wasn’t mostly because i hold out hope for success, but that’s not the only reason. you see, these examples don’t prove that every artist that gives it their all will receive attention. just like a single rat represents the many rats that are unseen, these geniuses whose genius went unrecognized for a time represent the many geniuses whose work will forever be unknown.
though i don’t think i’m an artistic genius, i’m pretty proud of a few of the things that i’ve done. i’m also hopeful that one day i will create a genius work, but i’m pretty sure that if i do, no one will find out.