They Are All Long Shots

From the Archives: I wrote this in 2015. I didn’t get the job, but I sure did learn a lot. And I keep applying for things; I keep pulling back the bow.

Paul Manship, “Diana”
Bronze, 1925
Smithsonian American Art Museum

I was working on an RFP for a big public commission. In a moment of frustration, I reached out to Jay Hall Carpenter, a sculptor I admire tremendously. After all, it was a call that he suggested I apply for in the first place. I felt completely inadequate for the job and overwhelmed by the specifications of the call. I whined that I was probably going to apply, in spite of the fact that actually being selected was a long shot. To which he replied, “They are all long shots.”

Those words reverberated in my bones. All of it, all these risks we take. In other words, they are all long shots. In truth, if you keep pulling back that bow, one of these times you are going to hit the target. The thing about trying and missing is that, in time, you are going to get better. The truth of the matter is that try and missing is the only way to success.

So, despite my odds, I’m going to apply to the call. I’m going to do all of the work that goes into putting together a project proposal. I will likely be rejected. The next one I apply to will be even better. And the next even better. One of these days, I’ll hit the target. Once you hit it enough times, you become a professional. Which isn’t to say that you don’t still miss the shot every now and again.

Making art takes courage.

Just pull back the bow.

You can see more of Jay’s work and some advice from the studio at his site:


A figurative sculptor for over 20 years, Sarah tells monumental stories in clay, bronze, and stone.

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