Friday, September 14, 2012

Eff the Impossible

“Never tell a young person that anything cannot be done. God may have been waiting centuries for someone ignorant enough of the impossible to do that very thing.” - G. M. Trevelyan


Yesterday I was preparing for an interview and I was thinking about how I'd answer when I was inevitably asked how I went from studying literature (medieval and renaissance literature no less!) to writing books for teens and developing FileMaker databases (along with lots of other computery things).  It's always a difficult question to answer because the things seem on opposite ends of the spectrum.  Writing fiction is pure creation while repairing a computer is pure skill.  But the truth of the matter is that they're more similar than they seem.  But I wouldn't be capable of doing either if I believed in the impossibility of things.

I always knew I wanted to write. I took three creative writing classes–one in high school, two in college–and I dropped two and barely finished one.  I didn't want to learn to write, I simply wanted to write.  Knowing what a simile was or analyzing the rhythm and cadence of other authors wasn't going to help me find my own rhythm and cadence.  And when I write, I don't sit down with the goal of writing a really great metaphor.  I only sit down to write something really great.  I write books unaware of the rules because the rules are meaningless.  Nothing is impossible unless we know it's impossible.

The same applies to my skills with a computer.  When my predecessor at my current job died suddenly, I didn't wonder how in the world I'd ever learn the skills to develop using FileMaker, the program my company uses for business.  I simply grabbed the file and dove in, unaware of limitations.  Fuck books, fuck certifications, fuck rules. I needed to do something, so I did it.  And now, years later, I'm working on a project of my own that I hope will benefit a lot of people, and I'm sure that there are people who would be like, "Whoa! That'll never work!" But I'm stuffing cotton in my ears and working anyway because if I don't know that something is impossible, I know I'll find a way to make it work.

I'm not the smartest guy in the room. I'm not the most eloquent. I'm not the most creative. But what I am is ignorant of the impossible.  And in that way, there's nothing I can't achieve if I only have the will to try.

The same goes for you.

2 comments:

  1. Familiar with the essay "Hackers and Painters" by Paul Graham? http://www.paulgraham.com/hp.html

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    Replies
    1. What a fantastic essay. Thank you for sharing it.

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