Kill Your Darlings!

By    Oct 20, 2015
“Kill your darlings!” we were told by William Faulkner, a sentiment we take to heart in our writing and our creative practice. Authors must often rid themselves of their most labored over, most precious passages, for the greater good of the literary work. Unfortunately career planning and career paths ask you to “Kill your darlings” as well, and for me this has been the harder lesson to learn. In careers, as in writing, those things you spent the most time on, that you poured yourself and your heart into, sometimes do not have a place in the final edit.

Working in the arts for over a decade has been a continual exercise in projects and possibility. My CV and work history is full of incredible labors of love: books, essays, blogs, lectures, internships, exhibitions, residencies, courses, and teaching, volunteering. The list goes on and on. I’ve engaged the world from a variety of different vantages, and like so many in the sector, I have worn many (many) hats. All of this work has been rewarding, and some of it was extraordinarily hard. Surely all that effort and all those hours deserved a place in my story? In trying to keep everything, though, I found my personal narrative became too sprawling and varied, with a CV that communicated breadth but not always depth. This list of activity grew difficult for me to recount (and equally difficult to navigate for those looking to hire me.) As I enter the second decade of my career it became clear that some of these old “darlings” simply had to meet their demise. I’ve given myself permission to leave experiences behind and stop explaining past efforts that lay a bit too far to the left and right of my current career path. While I was initially reluctant to let them go, I have to say the new, more concise story is a better read, with a clearer plot and dramatic arc. It’s a page-turner and I can’t wait to see where the story goes from here.