Friday, February 03, 2012

Determination

Never give up, no matter what. NO MATTER WHAT.
Image from Disny/Pixar's UP. They own the rights.
I think I've said this before, but I won't ever give up on the idea of me being a storyteller. I've tried musician/rock star and artist before settling on wanting to be a writer and this feels like a much better fit for me.

This past fall was a watershed moment for me. I realized that what was missing from being a storyteller was having a group around me that encouraged me without pandering. I'm not a bad writer and I'm getting better at it, so this twelve year journey hasn't been in vain. I suppose I should explain a little, eh?

Twelve years is relative. Back in 1999 and 2000 I was making mini comics. Writing, drawing, lettering, photocopying, stapling, folding, mailing... Basically I was a one-man production team working on a monthly deadline for a year and a half. I produced ten pages a month, covers and did everything I could to get noticed for my storytelling.

I did get noticed and I made several friends who've been super supportive and encouraging, and I believe I've related that story here or elsewhere and anyway it's tedious. What happened, after ending up with over 200 pages of comics written and drawn, was that I was disenchanted. I wasn't going to get into comics with my work (my drawing skills lacked) and I couldn't afford to buy an artist to produce quality pages.

So I turned to writing prose. Not right away, but I got there because there's something in me that won't let me quit. The contacts I made in comics kept encouraging me, waiting for me to realize that I had stories to tell and that there would be a reckoning.

Before that happened, there was decently long period where I didn't tell any stories. I was done making comics and I hadn't decided to write prose yet. I wasn't making music any more and I felt like all my art sucked (and it did). I was the most unhappy bastard you'd ever run into. I focused on doing my day job (which I'm pretty good at) but I wasn't being creative. I fooled myself into thinking I was happy not being creative, but I wasn't.

Because the fires inside weren't being stoked. What I'm getting at is over the twelve years that I've been seriously pursuing being a storyteller/writer, I've been up and I've been down and I've been so down you wouldn't believe it. I've been so up at times that I could taste the rain in the clouds before it fell and I could see the molten core of the sun. My real revelation came when I realized that it was all part of the process: the Ups, the Downs and everything in between.

So if you're one of those creative types who's down on themselves, I want you to pay attention: get over it and keep going. This is the tough love speech no one else is going to give you. You can give up if you want to but that's a trap. You won't be happy in the long run. You'll have nightmares if you try to deny that part of you needs to be nourished and nurtured by being creative. Maybe not the kind that are obvious, but they'll be there nonetheless and they'll haunt you.

My advice is that you should do what makes you happy: write, draw, play music, whatever. But don't do it for money or recognition. Do it because it makes you happy.

Then, when you're happy doing what you do, surround yourself with others who like to do the same things. That's what's happened to me and if you let it happen to you, you'll have found your bliss.

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