The plot’s tension comes from the fact that Herschel somehow finds more success than his younger counterpart. (Which I promise you is not a spoiler—literally everything I just mentioned is in the trailer.)
Both, in their own ways, are creating things that are important to them. Neither ever fully understand the other’s creative process or the motivation that is driving the final result. And that contrast makes the story that drives An American Pickle one of the most interesting parables on creativity and motivation that has emerged in quite a while. (I was tempted to write on the big screen, but … y’know.)
I see myself in both of Seth Rogen’s characters. Creativity, for many, requires a suspension of disbelief, an acceptance that you’re taking a leap somewhere where you may not know where the bottom is.
Creativity is scary. I always wanted to build a site like Tedium, and before that, ShortFormBlog. But my first few tries were wracked with nerves. Before I started ShortFormBlog in 2009, I had a graveyard littered with creative projects that I failed to finish.
Even back in the ’90s, I was trying to build something like this. A few years back, someone in the video game field who I knew way back when sent me a site I created when I was 16 and had completely forgotten about. It was a hilarious dumpster fire of an attempt. I relied on submissions, but I couldn’t get very many. I freely used profanity like a 16-year-old weaned on IRC and Usenet might. I tried to draw interest in what I was doing, then when I saw an opportunity to work on something related to music, I gave it to someone else.
Lots of other attempts exist like this, in my history, some bigger than others, most with a far lower quotient of four-letter words. Many left unfinished.
I decided, with ShortFormBlog, I was going to see it through, start to finish, because I wanted to feel what that was like. And I did.
I think, in many ways, that’s what motivates me, and possibly many others, to go the hard way, creatively. Because the thrill of finishing what I started feels a lot better than letting the graveyard get bigger.
Sure, nothing is stopping me from running this newsletter on someone else’s land and just focusing on the words, rather than the complexities of running a content management system, a cloud infrastructure, and a server as well. But by doing it this way, I feel like I earned it, just like I did when I built my first real site in two weeks after getting laid off from the best job I ever had.
Like the two characters Seth Rogen plays in that pickle movie, people passionate about creating things have their own internal clock and decision-making structure that drives them. As it should be.
We all have our motivations, and those drive us forward. Sometimes that mountain is a heckuva climb. But it’s a path deserving of each step.
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