Courtesy of PopCandy this morning comes a link to a short video interview with Ira Glass, host of the transcendent This American Life on NPR. In it, he talks about initial artistic endeavors, and the “gap” between our excellent taste in a medium and our not-yet-up-to-par ability to create something that satisfies our taste level. Take a listen:
Now, admittedly, I don’t read many interviews with writers and creative types, so feel free to confront me on my ignorance. However, this is one of the first times that I’ve seen someone articulate the major impediment to creative work so clearly. Once Glass has said it, of course, it all seems so clear: we want to make the thing that we love, but we love that thing for its best possible representative pieces, to which our own early attempts bear no resemblance. This makes me think of the deep pain of learning a musical instrument. You know, you only want to learn to play the piano because you love Glenn Gould, or Diana Krall, or Chris Martin. But when you first learn to play, you’re of course butchering “The Entertainer” or some such crap, and you’re nowhere near whipping through Mozart concertos with deep pathos. And thus, the temptation is to abandon it forever.
Glass does a beautiful job here not only explaining the need to soldier on, but does so with such compassion for the beginner, and a good deal of gentle mocking of his early self. I love the fact that he pulls out his own early efforts, and is willing to share it. What’s more convincing than hearing the less-than-perfect early attempts of those who have mastered the medium?
Good on you, Ira.