You are responsible for your own experience.
Nobody can tell you if what you're doing is good, meaningful or worthwhile. The more compelling the path, the more lonely it is.
Thanks for that, Hugh.
I'm not practiced at selling other people's stuff, so let's try this... Dear everyone: go and buy Hugh McLeod's book, Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity. It's available starting today, Thursday 11 June 2009. Don't walk, run, to your local book store, etc. It will be there. Waiting for you.
I'm an appreciative subscriber to Hugh's insights on gapingvoid.com and on Twitter as @gapingvoid. It was "How to Be Creative," the predecessor to this book, that hooked me a few years ago. If you want an objective review about the merits of this book, I'm not the person to give it to you.
I'll leave the biz cards biz to Mr. McLeod
It's a small book. If you're into buying your books by the pound, well, sorry. And it has a load of pictures, namely, the cartooned business cards that are Hugh's notable medium (and this is cliched to death, but: the drawings themselves are worth a thousand words). I didn't know how well that would translate from softcopy to hardcopy, but I'm very happy with what I have in my hands. The wisdom is mostly the same, but I like having the real thing that I can flip to any chapter I like -- at will, at random -- to get a good dose of Hugh's uncluttered point of view.
Ignore Everybody is listed as a guide about how to be creative, but for me it is a guide about confidence. (Perhaps these two are the same.)
There you are -- there I am -- navigating the cubicle canyon on foot, wondering if this is it. There's a small voice in your head that says, "Well, I have this idea that might be awesome," but what do voices know? Voices are going to get you in trouble. But you have everything you need at your disposal to make an end run around your chosen mediocrity. But. What if you don't make it? But. What if you don't have the right tools? But. What if your idea is too small? But. What if you find your voice and it isn't interesting?
That's where Hugh enters. The simple ideas in Ignore Everybody point out that the path ahead of you has been traveled -- not the exact same one, as the chapter "Never compare your inside with somebody else's outside" is meant to explain -- and that there is the chance of success. You just need to do it. You just need to stop thinking that other people are going to see your dream as importantly as you do. You just need to understand that no one is qualified to give you permission except you. It reminds me of the chapter on writing memoirs in On Writing Well by Bill Zinsser where the author points out that people mistakenly think that they need permission to write about themselves, as if this was something that needed to be approved by the world at large. Then he says, fine, I give you permission to do it, go. That's the kind of lasting feeling that I take from Ignore Everybody. Get the book, and it will help to bridge the gaps of uncertainty that you encounter along your path. It's a swift kick in the tail to get you past your own hangups.
There are no recipes in this book. There aren't any shortcuts. There are forty short, short chapters littered with pithy business card doodles. Like anything done directly from the heart, it resonates.
Now go buy the freaking book.