I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a variety of projects I’m currently working on. One in particular is a children’s books I’m struggling to put together with a friend of mine… and I stress the word “struggling”. It seems that every time I go to work on the book life gets in the way — life and a lack of enthusiasm. I’d liken it to writer’s block but I’m illustrating. Well, I’m writing it too but as I write this article the story line of the book is already written. I’m sure writing out the actual book text will involve some uphill climb and a series of obstacles as well. I’m not being pessimistic, it’s just the way it is for many of us creative types.
When you’re creative nothing comes easy… although we sometimes make it look easy. Yeah, the creativity can flow and you can get into a groove or a rhythm. You want to ride that wave as long as you can cuz sooner or later you’ll find yourself thrown upon the rocks you failed to notice while you were daydreaming. When the mundane goings on of daily life get in the way you’ll come up with a million reasons for not working on your craft and when you snap back into work mode it’s suddenly 1 am and your brain seduces you into either one more episode of your favorite show on Netflix or the soft comfy pillow on your bed. It’s funny how your brain never gives you the option of going back to work on a creative project you’ve been putting off forever. And it’s too bad cuz I do some of my best stuff at 2am.
I get excited when I come up with new ideas. They come to mind almost daily. But like many creative people, I fantasize what it would be like to have completed the project and, in my head, is already a published success and I’m suddenly signing copies of my book at — insert popular book store name here — and raking in royalty checks hand over fist whilst talking to Disney about optioning the script… when in reality I’ve made no effort whatsoever to even start the project. My brain has tricked me into reaping the imaginary benefits and I suddenly adopt this been-there-done-thatattitude when in fact I haven’t done a damn thing. It’s bizarre!! Oh, and it gets better! I move on to the next project I won’t start or finish. Too bad I can’t pay the mortgage on fantasy dollars.
I’m not sure why creative people have to deal with this perpetual tug of war between getting things done and finding anything and everything to keep us from working on a project we seemed so passionate about in the beginning. I suppose it’s a testament to the term “they suffer for their art”, cuz it really is suffering! It drives us batshit crazy! It’s an unending struggle for us to get off our asses and get something done. But why?
I’ve had small successes here and there and some really BIG near misses. I was one nod away from launching a comic book series with DC Comics based on the late nineties Warner Brothers TV show “La Femme NIKITA” I was working on many moons ago. But in the end the execs couldn’t get permission from Luc Besson, creator of the original “Nikita”.
Like many a young starry-eyed dreamer, there was a time when I wanted to draw Spider-Man comics. I once had a two-page rejection letter from an editor at Marvel Comics. Most people would have read the letter and thrown it in the trash out of anger but I saw gold. Each paragraph started with, “You need to work on…” and “I suggest you read…”. The editor was telling me EXACTLY what I needed to know. And then the time I got a hand-written letter from Tribune Media Services (at one time one of the largest newspaper syndicates in the US). The letter started started with, “Hand-written letters are not the norm in this business unless we see promise in someone’s work. We see promise in yours…”. In the end the theme of my cartoon strip was too risky for them (Ancient Egypt). I submitted more work in a different theme but no response. After a couple years and some time well-spent researching, I learned comic book artists and cartoonists actually don’t make that much money. Many of them have side jobs to supplement their income and when you have a family, that kind of uncertainty ain’t gonna cut it. Unless you turn out to be the next Jim Lee or Todd MacFarlane you probably won’t get far in the comics industry.
As I’m faced with a new season of my life, I realize that the only true way to succeed is to (and you’ll likely wanna write this down) JUST CREATE!!! It’s so simple. Create something then move on to the next creation. Create something else then move on to the next thing. Never stop! Keep putting it out there. When I’m on a beach I do sand sculpture. When I’m on the couch I draw. When the kids aren’t driving me bananas I write. When they’re spending mommy/daughter time I go out on a photo or short movie shoot. Something’s gotta give, right?!! Oh, and at some point you might wanna eat something and get some sleep.
As much as life tends to get in the way and throw me off course now and then, I come home from my day job being Batman (not literally), revert back to my mild-mannered persona — caring father of two little girls, faithful husband, artist, musician, writer, filmmaker and dreamer. After the children are in bed, I sit at my drawing desk and stare at the blank, off-white, cold pressed sheet of paper. My mind drifts back to the summer cottage.
Meh! Maybe I’ll get something done tomorrow.