The Hard Thing

I watched a documentary a short time ago about the rise and fall of The Improv, the comedy club responsible, in many ways, for the boom in stand up comedy in the 80s and 90s. The documentary included interviews with some of the top comedians working today, including Larry David. David explained that during one visit to The Improv he thought, “I could do that!” So he approached the manager about the possibility of going on. “Do you have any material prepared?” David did not, but figured he could just get up there and be funny. He was a funny guy, after all. The manager advised he prepare some material first, which David eventually did, and the rest, as they say, in history.

I love this story because it reminds me so much of myself. Though like a lot of writers I can be lured by the will-o’-the-wisp of perfectionism, my preferred means expression is to throw myself into things and see what happens. I begin every new venture with exactly the same question: How hard can this be? Writing a little symphony – how hard can that be? Starting a magazine – how hard can that be?

I soon get to find out how hard something can be. And of course, as soon as I learn how to do even one of the unexpected hard things associated with whatever I’ve thrown myself into, I presume I’ve got it all figured out and there is nothing more to learn. Until the next hard thing. I’m a fast learner and slow learner all at once. Fortunately, life is a patient teacher for all variety of students. I have never made a mistake from which I have not been allowed to recover. The stage remains ever open, and the mic is always on.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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