Since it all began in June of 2008, this blog has been many things: a place to vent, an archive for commentary on television and comic books, the occasional crafting tutorial, advertisement for my various entrepreneurial enterprises, and a chronicle of my ongoing war with the responsibilities of adulthood.
What is it now?
Eight years ago I had just graduated from UC Riverside with a degree in creative writing, and I wanted to work in film or television. As I attempted to navigate the world outside university, I thought I’d share my experiences, in the hope that I could help others avoid my mistakes. It wasn’t long before I realized I didn’t have the temperament needed to ‘sell myself’ in Hollywood, and the focus of my blogging changed – as did the landscape of the internet, to say nothing of the technology. Soon my blog was part of my ‘brand,’ a necessary piece of the platform I was told I needed to establish myself as a writer. I kept blogging about television, about geek life, and eventually about comic books after I started working at my local comic shop.
Then the world got a lot less friendly.
As the news filled up with mass shootings, apocalyptic predictions, and more mass shootings, I found I had less and less to say. I had opinions, certainly, but frequently questioned whether or not expressing those opinions would really contribute anything to the conversation. As a result, I stopped blogging, I stopped tweeting, I stopped updating Facebook on my whereabouts (though I’m sure it still knows), and in avoiding the sadness and anger fermenting online, I found I had less inspiration for art – it seemed pointless to draw geeky things when the world was such a dark and scary place.
But as I look for the next chapter of my life, I’m constantly reminded that in order to succeed in my chosen field, I have to take part in social media. I have to have an online presence – withdrawal is not an option. I need to showcase my strengths, share the things I love, and engage. So with that in mind, and remembering why I started this blog in the first place, here are some of the lessons I’ve learned over the past eight years:
- Apply for internships while you can still afford to work for free. I cannot stress this enough. It’s a terrible system with no guarantees, but nearly all ‘entry-level’ jobs in the arts are slave labor for college credit. Not only can you not afford to work these jobs without a paycheck after you’ve graduated, in most cases you can’t even apply for them since, you know, without that college credit, it’s basically illegal. If you can do the grunt work at a time in your life when it won’t bankrupt you, you stand a greater chance of making it a career. Trying to enter it later is significantly harder.
- It’s okay to be sad sometimes, even if you’re one of the fortunate ones. Depression doesn’t care; perspective is all that matters. If you’re in a relatively secure position in life, you should remind yourself the fog will pass – but feeling down, angry, frustrated, or hopeless is not a crime. Other people have and will suffer more than you, but the brain doesn’t take that into account when filling your head with chemical reactions. I can know, objectively, that I’m a lucky person, but that doesn’t mean I can always feel it.
- Self-imposed deadlines are only useful if you have a reason to meet them. Outside of school, outside of work, there are very few instances when you have to get something done. So you don’t, because there’s no cost to failure besides a little extra guilt. The best way to combat this is to find others in a similar situation – drag them in and use them to create consequences. In my case, it’s called a writing group.
- Just because you have something to say, doesn’t mean you have to say it. There are a number of posts sitting in the drafts folder of this blog that will never see the light of day. Self-censorship is not a negative concept if it comes as a result of thought. Watching what you say due to fear of how others will react is a slippery slope, but recognizing that what you have to say simply doesn’t need to be heard by other human beings is an evolutionary step. Curb your ego, rather than your tongue.
- Do the work. We all want to be instantly successful and brilliant, but real life doesn’t work that way. If my life was a movie I could compress time to a montage set to a Fleetwood Mac song, but reality requires practice. Boring, tedious practice. You might think, why waste time on something that isn’t going to be very good? Because if you don’t, it’ll never get better. Sad, but true.
- There’s still time. One of the hardest lessons, and one I still reject on a weekly basis. After all, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, and then what would happen to my unfinished magnum opus? Everybody loves stories of people who didn’t find success until later in life, conveniently forgetting that those same people struggled with the same feelings of failure that they probably wouldn’t wish on others. Having hope on the horizon is all well and good, but what about right this minute? I believe that’s the key. Ask yourself, what can I get done right this minute? Then do it. Maybe it’s a bad minute. Maybe all you can do in that minute is lie down and feel sorry for yourself. So wait for the next minute. Laziness fuels the cycle of anxiety, but panicking about wasting time after the fact doesn’t magically create a pause button for the universe. And that’s okay.