“Success occurs in the privacy of the soul. It comes in the moment you decide to release the work, before exposure to a single opinion.” — Rick Rubin, The Creative Act, page 219
Mostly I’m just nodding quietly at this.
I recall the dude from Fugazi saying something adjacent. Ian MacKaye: “Success is a perpetual state of affairs. With my music for instance, I’m not goal-oriented. The decision to be in a band was huge for me. I came to a realisation that I could do this, because punk gave me the permission slip. I was able to play bass, which is crazy – here’s this animal beating on a wire, and a tune is coming out. That is success. Then I played with other people, and these animals organised those sounds in a way that was recognisable. That is success. We wrote our own songs. That is success. We played a show. That is success. Every day is a success – if you’re in the moment.”
Since music is an ethereal form of magic, having his attitude goes a long way toward staying sane. In one of my first bands I remember obsessing over the (Stoner 101) thought “We aren’t ANYTHING until we’re on stage. We pull those songs out of NOWHERE. Or, we DON’T.” For someone with 3-day-pre-show-diarrhea-level stage fright, I must say, that was not a super helpful mantra.
Often my favorite pieces sell the slowest. Maybe because they’re where my work is pushing ahead experimentally, and so, unfamiliar to others? Maybe I’m too in love with the idea and not what I actually made? It doesn’t matter. Even if that gets in the way of me paying my bills, it doesn’t affect how I feel about my success. I’m a neurotic freak but on this I’ve always been super solid. Making something that didn’t exist before is success.
- I’m a success as soon as I like what I made. Actually for me I’d say it’s as soon as I’ve taken pictures of it — somehow that gives me a concrete framework for seeing a piece as complete, separate from me. When I capture my work on camera, I release it.