I’ll kick this off, finally, with something that has been on my mind a lot lately: hope and motivation.
There’s this phenomenon with creative types where they need to keep themselves going.Â That’s to say, when everything around them is crushing or there’s little to be excited or have faith in but something keeps them going.Â Fuels them.
I’ll explain what I mean in the form of a story:
Nearly a year ago, I finally graduated from college.Â When I left, I was flown out to Nashville by Devon and Golriz of the fantastic site SoulPancake.com to work on content and help them manage their volunteer work force.Â While there, I saw Dev’s drive and passion for the site.Â He stayed up until two in the morning to make sure work was edited and ready for release the next day and pushed himself to wake up early to witness each posts response.
At some point, I thought I might be able to get a job out of SoulPancake.Â That I’d be able to, eventually, earn some money from editing or some such work. When I first arrived in Nashville the prospect of a job was suggested to Devon.Â He told me that he absolutely expected SoulPancake to earn money, that it would have cash flow from sponsors and other avenues within the next few months and that I would be one of the first to get paid.Â This pushed me to do everything I could for the site.Â The problem was, it didn’t happen.
Before I left, I wanted to know that this job possibility was still there.Â On my second to last day I had a conversation with Golriz about their situation.Â In the shadow of their trampoline, she told me that while she had complete faith in Devon and the growth seen on the site, it would be irresponsible to believe that she’d be paid.Â After all, the economy wasn’t doing well and advertisers weren’t giving money out to everyone.
I eventually asked why she and Devon pushed themselves so hard if they knew it wouldn’t produce any monetary fruit and she explained that Devon had to.Â If he didn’t believe that, eventually, things would work out the site would invariably never have been made or launched.Â If he didn’t have faith that writers were talented and capable, it would have been a similar situation.Â It was his faith and blind hope that drove the site, and now, it’s remarkably successful with a book on the way.
That might be a difficult concept for a lot of people to understand.Â Throwing yourself headlong into a project with the knowledge that it could blow up in your face isn’t logical.Â It’s the opposite.Â And yet, I’m doing it right now.
I’ve been working on this graphic novel fr the last four months.Â I’ve pushed myself by looking at a 6-page short comic I wrote as my motivation thinking, “if this 6-pager is published, publishers will read it and be more likely to give me a change.”Â And it kept me going.Â I wrote the 6-pager and, when it was done and edited, focused again on the graphic novel.Â Now, two chapters in, things have started to fall apart.
There are problems with the artist, and I’m not sure if he’ll finish any of the work he agreed to. I spent two days wallowing in self-pity, talking with Lindsay about how horrible things were and how I should just give up, but somewhere inside me a loud voice responded, “Write the damn thing.”Â Despite the anger that I deservedly feel, I want to continue.Â I have to.Â If I don’t stick my fingers in my ears and shout everything will be drowned out by the overwhelming prospect of failure.Â And failure will not happen.Â I don’t care if this 6-page story isn’t published.Â I’ll try a different venue and a different artist.Â I don’t care if the first six publishers shoot down the 6-pager and the graphic novel because someone, eventually, will read it and recognize what I’m trying to do.
Is it egotistical to think this way?Â Of course it is.Â But, really, there’s nothing else I or nearly anyone else with a dream can do but think we’re awesome and capable and that our idea is worth it.Â Because, without that ego, we would sit in cubicles like I used to and bemoan the opportunity we let split.Â And I’ve already spent six years in cubicles, working at jobs I had no desire to be doing.Â It’s time to buckle down.Â My stories will be published, dammit.Â Not because I think so, but because they’re pretty damned good.Â And when that day comes, I’ll feel vindicated for all my slamming into walls and verbose prose and pontifications.
This is what creative people have to do to keep themselves sane and get work done, put on the blinders, have faith in yourself, and hope.