Let's just clarify something right here and now: so-called 'overnight success' are not a thing.
Do you hear me, universe? NOT A THING.
To be more specific: do you hear me, Media-Outlets-Using-Catchy-Headlines-to-Promote-Unrealistic-Expectations? NOT A THING.
NOT. A. THING.
It absolutely drives me crazy when someone labels that debut novelist an 'overnight success,' or the sudden winner of an Oscar somehow just stumbled her way there solely because YOU never happened to hear of her.
That might be her debut novel, but you can bet she wrote at LEAST ten thousand pages that got scrapped before she ever caught the eye of a publisher. How many hours did Ray Bradbury write in a YMCA basement (where he lived) on a rented typewriter before the Martian Chroniclescatapulted him into the public eye? How many hours did JK Rowling spend biting her nails about her rent payment before some editor's niece finally convinced her uncle to take a stab at this crazy book series that 'probably wouldn't make much money' until OH WAIT IT'S A CINDERELLA OVERNIGHT SUCCESS STORY #HPTID.
How many classes did that actress take, how many cattle-call lines did she wait in, how many times did she have to stand in front of someone rejecting her AGAIN, how many hours did she have to devote to developing her craft before finally landing the role that napped her the Oscar?
There's no such thing as an overnight success. There's just overnight 'being-finally-noticed-by-the-public.' The success takes much longer.
Which is why I was so, so happy to read this wonderful article. Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner committed to never 'hide his brushstrokes,' so in an excerpt from a book I absolutely have to read, he tells us how his incredibly successful show took more than 7 years to get from his mind to your television screen.
And it is so encouraging. Go read it right now.
A creative career is a long haul. It takes time. It takes day jobs. It takes hours of not getting paid, not getting noticed, not getting where you want to go. The trick is to keep on creating. Take care of yourself; give yourself a sustainable lifestyle that includes time to create what you have it in you to create. Don't let rejections get you down; don't measure yourself by how much the public has noticed you.
As Weiner says, "The greatest regret I have is that, early in my career, I showed myself such cruelty for not having accomplished anything significant." Don't show yourself the same cruelty. Have grace with yourself and those around you. Check out Weiner's wonderful brushstrokes.
And never stop creating. You can do this.
originally published april 23rd, 2015