I am crawling through the tremulous, ink drenched birth canal toward my future.
Pen in hand, words and lines tumbling in my wake, I make my way through this wild world, spiritualities trailing along behind like the tails of so many dialogue bubbles.
My heart was ready, my commitment was ready.
My soul was a little half baked and still soft, and my ego was, naturally, six steps behind while calling the shots from the back of the parade.
To say that I was prepared for the whole kit and kaboodle of writing, drawing, formatting, self publishing and distributing my own comic would be, for the most part, a pretty egregious understatement—yet not entirely erroneous. If some unseen throbbing part of my internal machinery had not been up to the task, I sure as hell wouldn’t be writing this after finishing the first 24 page issue.
I can already see eyebrows cocking at dubious angles as my nerd starts showing and I attempt to correlate the purportedly immature and base with the lofty heights of spiritual ascension.
Smooth that eyebrow down, kiddlywink, and open that think-pan; let’s go for a spin and orbit around some of the soulful revelations that have clocked me like a baseball bat on the shins while toiling away at this comic.
Maybe, just maybe (as is my hope) you’ll walk off with some small shining trinket that might help you on your own merry way.
7. Time is Fleeting.
The Achilles heel of my creative aspiration is, bar none, being entirely too unrealistic with regards to allocating myself sufficient time to accomplish, well, anything. I learned the hard way how long exactly it takes to kick out an issue of a comic, while prepping for a comic convention and dealing with all the little micro-shits the universe so enjoys pooping in the litter box of life.
I shot myself in the foot big time and boy am I kicking myself for the opportunities missed due to my short sightedness.
Life ain’t getting longer. I think a lot of us (or maybe it’s just me) forget that seconds fly off the clock like bullets from heaven and by contrast we mere mortals have a great propensity to respond with less than equal swiftness.
Give everything the time it needs.
Let things ride as they need, and stop when you must.
Be alert, be aware and be circumspect.
6. Playtime is Over.
When I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing or more so feel like I’m never going to be able to support myself with my creative work, pretty much every other job on the planet looks appealing. “I could become a yogi,” I think to myself, ”Or a go-go dancer.”
But that’s just fear barking up my spine.
When it comes to ecstatic job satisfaction, I get more from pumping out comic and novel pages than I ever would contorting my body in asanas.
I’m not saying hobbies, frivolities and play should be scoured from the creative mind, but it most certainly this means abandoning false aspirations for those that really matter.
Also be aware of what exactly you’re getting yourself into with whatever your pursuit is.
Five pages into the comic, my brain calculated how long it would be to finish, and the the time and effort involved and I kinda wanted to lie down and die.
But I was committed then—I had to keep going, and I am glad I did.
5. People Care as Much as They Don’t.
I don’t think there’s a single person among my friends who doesn’t know I’m an artist. I’ve been drawing for as long as I’ve been writing, and my practice of both have roots in primary school.
These skills are part of my DNA.
Yet when this budding project rolled onto the scene there were quite a few comrades who, as far as I know, haven’t read a single page. Busy, disinterested, not their thing; the reasons I’m sure are myriad and entirely justified. It doesn’t change the fact that those who are close have turned away when they are needed and it kinda, y’know, sucks.
People who you thought would be there, aren’t.
You dust yourself off and keep going.
This is not to imply that people I know have been unsupportive. On the contrary, some of my most verbose and passionate supporters have been close friends, and I’d have given up long ago were it not for them. There’s actually a text I received on my birthday from a dear friend of mine, wishing me the best while expressing ardor for my pursuits and abilities. I re-read that text every damn time I start to get down on myself.
It is my digital divine salve.
Let us also not forget the kindness of strangers. Slinging prints and postcards bedecked with my artwork at an indie comic convention did not leave me with monetary profit. It did, however, see me laden with soul nourishing support from complete strangers who had never laid eyes on my work before. True I did get more than my fill of disgruntled gawks at my jarring work, but these were brushed aside in lieu of the love that I received.
Know who matters and who doesn’t.
Garner that positive feedback.
Hold onto those little love notes that float in.
They keep you going, you cherish them.
4. Take Care of Yourself.
To run at peak performance, a car has to be serviced regularly; humans are no different.
This means taking care of the self; body, mind and soul.
With great frequency I see creative types running their bodies into the ground in lieu of their creative works. I can relate. All too often in the throes of my ardancy to get somewhere with my career, I have uttered the phrase; “I don’t care if I destroy myself and lose everything, as long as I get there, as long as I make it.”
I do honestly feel that way, which in and of itself is a feat; to acknowledge you want your work to be seen and loved and be able to live well off of it and not be party to false altruism and be another poster child for the starving artist army.
Yet from a practical standpoint, I’m going to do better work if I take care of myself. My words and lines will flow better if I hit cardio like it’s going out of style and get ample sleep. Simple as that.
This also means indulging in some inanities, hi-jinks, ear bursting concerts and the foibles of jackanapes. Cause sometimes your brain needs to bask in the wonders of mother nature, and sometimes it just needs to pour over a lot of ridiculous gif sets on tumblr.
You and your work will be better when you’re at your best.
It seems elementary, but things happen and we lose track of ourselves in the shuffle.
3. You’re Not as Shit as You Think You Are.
I follow a lot of webcomics. And a lot of studio released comics. And they both make me feel like I’m a six year old scrawling on the wall with my own feces.
This is a lie.
I’m letting my fears run off with me. I know I’m not terrible, but naturally I’m scared that I’ll be the laughing stock of the online comic world. I’m bracing myself for when a heavyweight finds my scribblings and posts some scathing review.
I’m pretty sure a lot of us are scared about shitting the bed in our respective fields.
We’re not as bad as we think we are. This isn’t about digging up work from people who are technically inferior to you, but about recognizing your own abilities and drawing strength from them.
No matter how inferior you may feel, you’re still a lot better than you think you are, and no matter what, you’re only going to get better by doing whatever it is that you aspire to do.
2. You’ve Got a Long Way to Go.
This little number applies two fold.
It applies to the abstract distance my technical skills must cover in order for me to (in my own opinion) be considered employable by the comic/concept art industry, as well as the slightly more tangible distance with regards to the pages, plot points and story arcs I have yet to do before my own comic will come to a close. Both of these are considerable leagues to leg over, but only as daunting as I allow them to be. They are only daunting because I want to be there now and I dread the wading through all the shit to get there. I know that I do not yet have the technical skill or renowned, where I am right now, to make a little skip to where I want to be.
But I know I’ll get there.
Knowing where we are and where we want to be is important.
Lucidity and clarity of mind and self are paramount to traversing the chasms that separate desire from reality.
They are vast, but not insurmountable.
1. I Can, more than I Can’t.
“Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it, but when I believe I can then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn’t have it in the beginning.”
At the very heart of all this madness, I know I can make a comic. I know I can do this. I may not be the best out there, but I am capable of making a very surreal, snarky and edgy comic and my abilities are going nowhere but up.
It takes a lot to admit that. Admitting it to prospective employers is a whole different deal, and I’ll get back to you on that one when I’ve got a paying job.
At the same time, I know when I can’t do something. This is not for lack self esteem or self love, but simple logistics. I broke my initial deadline for printing the comic because it would be humanly impossible for me to sleep and finish the remaining pages in the time I had given myself.
I know too, though, that with each page, each panel, each drawing—even the ones I erase—my Can is overtaking my Can’t.
Life is one long birthing process towards death, and making this comic has underscoring this fact with a highlighter brighter than the eye of Horus.
Every moment, we’re turning our can’ts into cans.
If there is one sure thing I can pass on, it is that listening to “Feeling Good”, no matter the version, the original or one of the many spectacular covers, will certainly to see your motivation mojo running like hot honey. I’m partial to the Muse’s cover myself.
We’ll get there.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise
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