The cart comes first


The great Saul Bellow once observed:

Nowadays when a young man thinks of becoming a writer, first he thinks of his hair style and the what clothes he should wear and then what whiskey he's going to endorse.

This was in 1996. Now, 19 years later, this is just as true if not more true than when Bellow said it — not just for writers, but for artists in general. Many of us so called artists spend more time thinking about how we look and present ourselves to the world before we actually hone our crafts and produce our work; spend more time designing, launching, and pitching our websites and social media platforms before we have real content to share with people.

Don't get me wrong. I get why people do this. It's easier to think about and develop one's image than it is to exactly get one's hands dirty and start actually producing work on a consistent basis and growing as a result. On top of that, we've all been mesmerized and duped to one degree or another by the stories we hear about those quick rises to fame that were the results of a well crafted image and presentation.

But what if we put the cart back where it belonged, and put the horse after it? What if we spent more time honing our craft and producing tangible work than we did crafting images we think will sway people and designing platforms that will think will land us this or that contract, win us that attention, and whatever else it is that we're looking for?

We'd probably have fuller lives, and interestingly enough, reach more people with strong work that actually holds water, as compared to, cool looks and presentations that are hollow and empty at their core because they have no real work to substantiate their shells. Because with great art the cart (work) comes first and the presentation (horse) comes second.