When I was pulling the late night/early morning feeding schedule with my second child, I stumbled onto a lot of late night comedy on various cable channels. This included a comedian named Katt Williams, who has a rather well-known comedy routine focused on the Rick Ross track, “Every Day I’m Hustlin’.” If you played Grand Theft Auto 4, you can find an amazing replication of this routine in one of the Liberty City clubs.
((Go find it if you’re curious, but it’s raw, relatively offensive, and not safe for work at all. The GTA4 one is an amazing example of animation, though. The mannerisms are dead-on.))
There’s an underlying message in that routine, and it’s something that creatives who still require the dayjob among the mundanes should keep in mind. Being a creative, especially one who relies upon self-promotion, self-publishing or small-press publishing, and the grace and generosity of one’s social network to make a dollar from one’s craft, means learning some of the key skills involved in hustling. You’ve got to keep moving, keep believing in your raw ability, and toughen up your skin so that when the proverbial haters show up, you don’t miss a step. Regardless of where you are at this moment (even if you’re working at McDonald’s, as he says), you should carry that attitude and spirit that says that you’re a creative and you’re not about to rest because you’re stuck in a place that might not see you as a creative hustle.
I play that track (well, a derivation of it) at least once a week. On some days where it’s hard to get through the sea of “no” and “you can’t do that” and the worst of “your standards are too high, no one cares if it’s better than average”, it’s all that I can do to find my earbuds, click over to the track, and take a walk with that hook in my ears.
Monday was one of those days where the mundane tried to kick me in the teeth. Without going into specifics, I was told to lower standards and restrictions because that was all that was expected. I detest low standards and doing the minimum to get by, especially when the potential for achievement is so great. After the incident, I sat and ground my teeth and ranted… and I tried to let it pass. Being the duck is difficult; Chapter 18 of “Amazing Things Will Happen” by C.C. Chapman (go get the book, honestly) talks about the need to let things roll off your back as well as how hard that can be at first. I mentioned something about it on G+ and had a brief moment of relieved tears when others admitted that the day had included similar frustrations for them.
Ignoring the haters and keeping your focus on the creative endgame is very difficult; I’m a passionate and involved person by nature and I think that any task that I do should be done at my best. When someone tells me to lower my personal standards, it hurts on a level that is difficult to explain. The solution for now is to let that roll off and focus on the creative hustle. I won’t lower my standards on my voicework and writing, and those are the ventures that matter the most.
So, even if you’re masquerading as a mild-mannered academic, putting out podcasts that involve metahumans and voicing erotic romance before pulling into the parking lot for the nine-hour higher education gig…
*cues the hook as the lights come up* Every. Day. Hustlin’.