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Never give in — never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. –Winston Churchill

At Whitechapel, the only real Web forum in which I participate, some of us have taken stock of our lives and felt a bit frustrated all over again to see we’re not at all close to where we figured we should be at our age(s).  Several of us are staring down, if not fully ensconced in, middle age and reliant on someone else to help us get through everyday, whether its parents, spouses, housemates, etc.

It’s not just the frustration of trying to keep the momentum of a career going during tough economic times, many of us already got kicked around town by that particular bitter pill, but now we’re trying to get a new career going.  Many of us (because it’s Whitechapel and this is the sort of folks we are) are having a go at careers that involve artistic ability.  Man, talk about all around asking for negative judgment.  Subject: 35, lives with parents, limited background for but seeking paying projects in creative writing, acting, photography or graphic design.  Even I’m trying not to scream “get a job, ya bum!” and that’s pretty much my life.

I guess at no point in career counselling did anyone promise the line would be straight and clear between getting an education and securing an income, but then again no one ever mentioned it would be so murky, confusing, and rife with soft spots where a person could get awfully stuck.  Pushing your art as a service means running your work like a business and oddly enough it’s a rare curriculum that teaches artists/actors/musicians/writers how to do this.  There’s practical advice, here and there, but advice lacks the regimentation of study and is often contradictory.  What I mean is, I learn lessons from a classroom more clearly and for longer than advice I run across at receptions or on Twitter.

Of course, the reason advice is contradictory and isn’t subject to any kind of review is because these careers don’t have single correct path for advancement.  There just isn’t one and maybe there simply couldn’t be one.  There are many, possibly even one for every individual.  (Ugh, what an annoying thought, moreso because that’s probably the most accurate way to think of it.)  Everyone has to blaze their own trail because achieving success isn’t about getting to a virtual territory where all the pros are, but securing a professional status for oneself.  In other words, even though we think about it as traveling the better metaphor is evolution.  You become what you’re aiming for.

Oh well, all I’m trying to aim at saying is that I don’t know what are the wrong methods of going about this.  But what I have learned, and had confirmed for me by people who would know, is that a certain false path is giving up.  The only way to fail to get to where you’re going is to just not try.  Even if I put all my effort into this crazy career of mine and get hit by a bus before ever landing a paying gig, is that really failure?  I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to be sure I’m not any good at voice acting is if I quit before I get anywhere.

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