I'm a masochist. I've known this for years. It's probably why I love the whole notion of the book "Fight Club." I don't feel alive until I feel pain.
Struggling to do something is sort of an extension of that pain. When things come too easily, it just doesn't feel real. It doesn't feel like it has any value.
Sure, I'm probably rationalizing some frustrations in my life right now. For instance, I'm having a helluva time getting a literary agent. Getting a literary agent is one of those really difficult things to achieve. Ask any writer. But I prefer to ask an engineer. I'll explain later.
A couple summers ago, I went with a group of friends to watch the second installment of the Matrix series on opening night. Afterward, we went to a friend's place to discuss the movie over brandy and cigars. There was a bicycle lock on the floor and I proceeded to try to figure out the combination. But there were several doubters in the room: a CFO, a banker, a financier, and a mathematician/engineer. They all said it would be impossible to guess the combination. Or rather, it would take several hours, if not days, to figure it out.
But after watching the Matrix, I simply replied: "There is no spoon."
People who know probabilities would never attempt to do something as ridiculous as figuring out the combination to a lock. It would be a waste of time. A big waste of probable time.
But then if you ask an engineer about writing a book, s/he might say, "Just write it." How do you publish a book? "Just publish it." How do become an actor? "Just study, then act." How do you get an agent? "Just get one."
They don't know the probabilities, so they think it's just a matter of cause and effect. Do x, then y happens.
I love the thought processes of the engineer because it is relatively predictable and straightforward. How do you become an engineer? You study, get good grades in science and math, then you get a job as an engineer. And thus, there should be no difference with the arts. You study hard, then you do.
So, here I am, reading books about how to get a literary agent. How to write the perfect proposal. How to send the perfect query. How not to make a mistake, etc. But I know it's not brain surgery. I've already written the book. How do I get an agent? Just get an agent. It's really that simple. Probably easier than that damn lock I unlocked.
Oh, I forgot to mention it. I unlocked that lock in a matter of 15 minutes or less. Everyone in the room was stunned.
It goes without saying that there is a big difference in thought between artists and engineers, especially when it comes to the arts.
But every day, I struggle with it. I struggle with the hows, the whens, the how oftens. I just need to convince myself that it's not so fricking hard. Just get the agent.