Your best work is behind you

February 26, 2015

From 1989–1998, Jerry Seinfeld co-created, co-wrote, and starred in one of the most beloved and important TV sitcoms of the last fifty years. It’s impressive that he was able to make such a remarkable show for nine seasons, and perhaps even more so that he stopped before he defiled his own legacy. But to me, there’s one thing that’s even more impressive.

He still does stand-up. His best work is quite probably behind him, but he still gets on that stage anyway.

There’s a fear among audiences, when they see a truly exceptional work, that the artists involved will never be able to replicate it. Lightning struck, and it’s all downhill from here. Certainly there’s anxiety from the creators, who are afraid they won’t be able to match the expectations their last work raised. To this I say:

So what.

So what is they can’t do it again?

So what if your next work isn’t as successful?

There are worse things in the world. Get back to work.

Now, don’t misconstrue my words—there’s a certain level of quality expected from an accomplished creator, and to shirk that would be an insult to yourself and your audience. But some elements of a successful work aren’t easily replicable. Is JK Rowling going to write another series as popular as Harry Potter? No, probably not. But can she write a story of equal or greater quality and skill to her best work in Harry Potter? I’m sure she can. She probably already has.

If I ever manage to make lightning strike, and years later realize that my best work is behind me, I won’t be sad. I will be grateful. Most people don’t manage to reach those heights even once. Save the melancholy for those whose best was never popular, and had to get out of the game entirely.

So I would be grateful. Then I would get back up on that stage and see if I can’t make lightning strike anyway. After all, you never know what you’ll be able to do until your time runs out. Ask Michael Keaton.

As always, thank you for using my Amazon Affiliate link (info).

By Stephen W. Gee

Author of Wage Slave Rebellion, Freelance Heroics, and about two good blog posts out of a hundred.

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