Do It Yourself

If you build it, he will come.

 If you’re not familiar with that line, it’s from the movie Field of Dreams (1989). I’m certain this film is before many of our time, but the content is still relevant. The biggest concern for most artists is whether or not what you do actually reaches other people in a more subjective manner. We never want our work to be done in vain, let alone influence no one in the process. This can be difficult to accomplish when no one wishes to assist you. We’re constantly complaining about the lack of help, yet no one wants to provide a solution to the problem.  We hold our fist out in protest against artistic injustice, but refuse to open them and offer aid when it’s required. When those moments occur and you find yourself isolated and disregarded, do it yourself.

Use what you have. I’ve always believed that you get the best results when you give maximum effort, despite shortcomings and limitations. I overheard someone speak about making a 99 as an average in a school course opposed to an 85. The person that got the 99 did all the minimum requirements—completed homework, studied for tests and got all the answers right. The student with the 85 average read the material and dissected it, memorized quotes and information, and applied it to their life. They got the most out of the course because their goal wasn’t just to excel, but to learn. Trying your best with the material you are given says more about your tenacity than your tendency to neglect help, especially when it’s not being offered.

Build with your tools and the rest will follow. This is in relation to the famous quote above. So what if all you have is a microphone and a computer. Start your podcast! So what if you have paint supplies from Walmart and blank canvases from Hobby Lobby that were on clearance.  Paint and aim to have a gallery of your work displayed! Many great projects were created in a closet full of clothes and old laundry as well as a car with baby carriers and gas station receipts. Your gift will make room for you (Proverbs 18:16). This isn’t just biblical, but factual.  Think of Esperanza Spaulding, Misty Danielle Copeland, Ryan Reynolds, Anne Hathaway, the late, great Robin Williams, and countless others.  I’m certain there were times they had to be the source of their own encouragement. The same maybe for you as well.

Trust us when we say that we’re in your corner. We’re never completely busy to refuse assistance in any way, whether by words or work of our hands.  Being an artist isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes discipline and dedication. You may not get the 99 that you want, but you’ll get the 85 you deserve. It’s the average you worked hard for and won’t mind using to characterize your improvement. Remember that everything you need exist inside of you. Open yourself up to find it so that you can use it for its intended purpose. One show that I enjoyed glancing at was Home Improvement (1991). The main character, Tim “The Toolman” Taylor played by Tim Allen, reminded us of how easy it is to make mistakes while doing things ourselves. Tim made it fun, adding humor to his imperfections, yet never choosing to cease trying. Keep going at it, for when you build it, they will come.

- Calvin Pennywell, Jr.