The number of great, inspiring graduation addresses that hit the web every spring always leave me feeling a little more excited for the future, a little happier with my personal vantage point, and eager for the new graduates to inject some life into our daily workings. (My strange love of a good commencement speech is a little less creepy when you realize that my summer work force is largely composed of these bright young minds.)
Have you seen Neil Gaiman‘s address for the University of the Arts commencement ceremonies?
Because if you haven’t? It’s worth it. Gems of wisdom for the newly-minted creatives among us. Here’s one pearl:
Looking back, I’ve had a remarkable ride. I’m not sure I can call it a career, because a career implies that I had some kind of career plan, and I never did. The nearest thing I had was a list I made when I was 15 of everything I wanted to do: to write an adult novel, a children’s book, a comic, a movie, record an audiobook, write an episode of Doctor Who… and so on. I didn’t have a career. I just did the next thing on the list.
Kim Pensinger Witman‘s post from a few weeks back touches on a similar theme, of thinking of the next exciting step, rather than trying to “do” the whole career at once. And while Mr. Gaiman does talk about having a idea of what he wanted to become, his “mountain,” he also speaks about the flexibility and choices that he made in order to get closer to that less-direct, slightly fuzzy goal. (I’ll tie some of this in with a review of Marci Alboher‘s One Person/Multiple Careers in the next week or so.)
He also has a few valuable snippets for freelancers, points that currently ring quite true in the arts community:
People keep working, in a freelance world, and more and more of today’s world is freelance, because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. They’ll forgive the lateness of the work if it’s good, and if they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as the others if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.
Be prepared. Be flexible. Be nice. A good professional mantra, even if you’re not quite sure what exactly you want to be when you grow up.