Maybe it’s me getting older and wiser, but I’m starting to understand more about where to spend my energy as an artist.
I admit: all of this is a black box to me. When I was a kid, I acted and I got paid. That’s as far as I took it. Understanding all the pieces and parts to a major creative enterprise like a feature film, that was beyond me. I don’t get the luxury of that ignorance today and neither does any other indie artist.
We’re forced by necessity to be intensely focused on all the moving parts of a successful, monetized project. Fair or unfair, that’s our reality. It’s hard to get it right. Easy to get it wrong. We’re all figuring stuff out for ourselves.
And here’s the other part: We’re all passionate. In exchanges with other artists, and creative people, I’ve become aware how passionate people are and how that passion manifests itself. Some (I’m looking at you, @Scalzi and @HamillHimself) are bright shining stars that beckon.
Others are warning lights, saying ‘Watch out … I’m trouble.’ We’ve all had exchanges like that. Sometimes we’re the offender. Sometimes the offendee. As easy as it would be to poke fun, I don’t want to do that. I can’t point fingers. I’ve been that guy. I can’t judge too much. It’s bad for recovery … When You Point a Finger at Someone, There Are Three More Pointing Back at You and all that.
When an exchange goes south, it becomes an interesting personal exercise for me. What can this exchange teach me about how I interact with other people as I find new readers? As I mentioned, I still have a lot to learn. Many others do, too, apparently. Let’s distill our thoughts into one simple idea: Don’t hate. Create. The rest of this blog post is about unpacking those three words.
To begin with, let’s understand one point. Creating stuff is hard. We’re throwing ourselves off the cliff, and growing our wings on the way down. It’s difficult. It’s uncomfortable. Emotionally, you’re a baseball catcher without any pads. Internet fastballs coming at you at 90mph. ‘May the odds be ever in your favor?’ Yeah … heheh … let me know how that works for you.
Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll get feedback. If you’re very lucky, that feedback will be positive. Other times, the truth will be in the silence. What people don’t say. Understanding the culture of the audience you’re speaking with, their speaking style, and how they relate to each other. That’s yet-another moving piece of the larger machine that you must come to understand.
There’s no school for any of this, so you must learn by doing. And you will. So will they. You’re going to take an Internet beating, and it’s going to teach you how tough you really are. Because it hurts, you have a lot of anger and resentment. It manifests itself as anger toward people you think are trolling you, but what you’re really mad at is yourself.
You believed in your idea. You thought your idea would help you connect with other people. You’ve been waiting for this moment of connection your entire life, and it didn’t happen. So yeah, you’re experiencing some powerful emotions. What do you do with this energy and information? I’ll save that discussion for Part Two of this essay – stay tuned for some thoughts later this week.