Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.
This struck the right cord when I read it for the first time. The truth is, it applies to just about anything, and of course, to cooking as well.
My daughter — a six year old — is frequently saying things like “why can’t I cook like you”, or “why can’t I play piano as good as you”. All I can do is offer her the same advice — practice makes perfect, and keep on going, and try, try again. No one starts off great, I am sure even Mozart didn’t start writing symphonies before he learned to play a simple tune with one finger.
This quote by Ira Glass has done more for me than years of studying piano, years of learning from the best, and years of having personal and professional successes and disappointments. It’s so simple, yet many fail to see that practice does, indeed, make perfect.
You may be a diamond in the rough, but in order to see yourself truly shine, you need lots of cutting and lots of polishing. It takes time and patience, and you have to make it all the way through that rough around the edges period, but when you do, oh how good it will feel then!..
Only until you find something else you need to work on...
So, keep on cooking, whatever you are cooking; keep on cutting and polishing, or, in my case, keep on chopping and stirring, and writing about it. And don’t you quit after your first burnt toast, after that lumpy gravy, and that flat cake! Remember, you are a little Mozart learning your first tune, and your best work is always, always ahead of you.