You can watch the whole speech here, and I’ve transcribed some of my favorite passages below:
The liberation of not knowing what you’re doing
[1:50] When you start out in a career in the arts, you have no idea what you’re doing. This is great. People who know what they’re doing know the rules, they know what is possible, and what is impossible. You do not. And you should not.
The rules on what is possible and impossible in the arts were made by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible by going beyond them. And you can. If you don’t know it’s impossible, it’s easier to do. And because nobody’s done it before, they haven’t made up rules to stop anyone doing that particular thing again.
On doing things just for the money
[6:32] I don’t know that it’s an issue for anybody but me, but it’s true that nothing I did where the only reason for doing it was the money was ever worth it, except as bitter experience. Usually I didn’t wind up getting the money either.
The things I did because I was excited and wanted to see them exist in reality have never let me down, and I’ve never regretted the time I spent on any of them.
The email nightmare
[8:58] There was a day when I looked up and realized the I had become someone who professionally replied to email and who wrote as a hobby. I started answering fewer emails and was relieved to find that I was writing much more.
When life is hard, make good art
[10:08] Sometimes life is hard. Things go wrong in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art.
I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art.
Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art.
IRS on your trail? Make good art.
Cat exploded? Make good art.
Someone on the Internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art.
Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, and that doesn’t even matter. Do what only you can do best: make good art.