"No one can help you but yourself -- in other words, you're fucked."

I've been thinking about writing this for the past four weeks. Maybe a little bit longer.

The past few weeks I've been trying to find some kind of order in my life. Or not even that, I guess you could probably call it just taking inventory, trying to say this is this, and this is that, and this is what I have. Which I guess isn't odd -- I'm always self-analyzing, that's even what this blog is about in a way, and I imagine there are at least a few people who will read this and chuckle when I say "but this feels different from that." But this does feel different from that, and if only because I'm feeling so reluctant to try and get a handle on it all.

Even now, I'm sort of dancing around it.

I recently had a pretty big opportunity fall through -- not even "fall through" in the traditional sense, but just the parties involved in said opportunity stopped returning my calls, and I found myself without the thing that I thought would be my major focus for most of next year, and perhaps the greater part of my near-future. I didn't talk about this job here, because I was asked not to, and I'm still not going to get into it because, well, I just don't think this is the place. The main point is that it's not something I feel comfortable depending on anymore, and that changes a lot of things.

It particularly calls into question my living situation. Staying with my grandmother was never supposed to be a long term solution to getting kicked out of my house. It's certainly true that being here has afforded me a lot of luxuries -- I've had plenty of time to write, and probably wouldn't have been able to crank out the work I have on "Unfilmable," "Nova," and the still unfinished "Trendsetter" [not to mention a handful of smaller works] if I'd had to get a real job to support a rent check. I got almost a year with Dad, which let us work a lot of things out, something I'm really thankful for considering how suddenly and unexpectedly he died. And when he died, I was glad to be here for my grandmother, who had to bury her eldest son, and didn't need to go through that alone.

And I've been useful here. I would never say my grandmother depends on me, because I really can't think of anyone more capable, but chores, shopping, various things around the house -- these are things I've been able to do for her to make her life easier, and earn my place here, and the fact that I'm probably a big, temperamental inconvenience of a house guest. And that's good. I think there are some things about my personality that keeps me from being fully satisfied by the good I have done here, and yet without being arrogant I know I have done some good, and that has been a lot more important than some of the more selfish things that I've committed my time to.

So, I've been privileged, privileged to not have needed a job, to have a roof over my head, to be of use to someone, and to have been able to write, and by proxy, write about my writing here. And that's been okay, that's worked for the past year or so, and it's not that it isn't working now, either, but it's just... not a good idea anymore. I'm not waiting on anything, I'm not really building towards anything, and that makes all this sitting around, all this house work, all these sleepless nights seem sort of pointless.

And the writing. I keep asking myself what I expect to do with this now. Writing a screenplay seems more than a little pointless when I know I have no connections, no crew, and no interest in my work. And I don't really have the skills, equipment, or money to pursue these things on my own, and honestly I don't think there's anything in me that wants to be a filmmaker anyway. Handle the creative end, as a producer, or something like that? Sounds great. Write a story? I mean, that's why I'm here, that's what I love. But get behind a camera? That has never really sounded appealing to me, except in the most extreme cases.

If I'm honest with myself, it's not even the kind of writing I want to be involved in. My interests there came from the fact that I love movies, and that I wanted to get into comics -- and the only way a lone writer seems to get into comic books anymore is by way of film. And comics, that's what this has almost always been about, that's what I've always enjoy the most, that was one of my defining moments, when I cracked open that box with Sam and mine's SULK: The Morning After on that cold night in Bennington. Or when a certain redhead approached me in the dining hall to tell me she liked what we'd done in Murmur. Or when I'm getting new pages in my e-mail from Justin. That's what I get the charge from, and if I've enjoyed writing anything this past year, it was probably the script for "Real Quality Comics," where I went back to basics and just... wrote the book like I'd want to see it.

Which is another problem with my living situation; I'm not meeting new people, let alone new artists, and I'm not in a place where I'm finding a lot of folks excited about doing comic books. Illustrators are not as plentiful as one may think, and I'm certainly not finding them when most of my days are spent at home, or in the local Kroger's. Harder still is finding someone willing and able to work with me, which, hey, I'm trying to make easier too, but there's really no way to know if I'm making any progress until I actually get to work with someone new.

And I have been so lucky to have Justin, but I've also given him a huge job, and he's got other project's after "Calamity Cash and the Town with No Name" has finished. When we're done, who knows how long until he'll want to do another with me, and I think between the two of us we've pretty much decided this book is going to fall under the header of "practice." So again we hit this question of what, and who, is next for me. I know what I wanted to be doing by this time, writing books, working with one or two artists who just "get" me, and want to do what I do, all the while selling my wares at various conventions and churning out wonderfully depressing things like what they do over at Modern Mythology.

There's also the elephant in the room, the prospect of me trying to write a novel. I keep going back and forth, yes I will, no I won't, it's too big a job, it's not something I can do, but maybe if, etc, etc. But again I come to the same problems as the screenplays, the lack of connections, I don't know any publishers, and I certainly don't have an agent. Writing just to be writing is how I stay sane, but there is this question that keeps coming up -- is this a hobby, or is this something I can realistically turn into a job?

Other things. I'm certainly past the threshold of being discovered as some sort of savant. This little voice in the back of my head which keeps saying "If it was going to happen like that, it would have happened already" is very persuasive, and if I am playing the long game at this, then I need to start figuring out a way to balance that with the things real people do, like rent, and bills, and work. And historically anything resembling an occupation tends to put a dead stop on my creative drive... which is really a whole other fear, and probably not something I should obsess over as much as I do. But I'm terrified of winding up back in that place I was in when I worked at the book store, where I couldn't bring myself to write with the few hours I had to myself at home [and to this day, I don't know I'd have survived that whole time had Anna not been supporting me].

I look around, and I see the success of my peers, too, and while I'm thrilled for them, it is a good reminder of how little I've done. I'm not going to grad school, I don't have some wonderful job, I don't live in some commune-like township where everyone knows everyone and there's a wicked two-kegger every Saturday night. My friends like John and Glen are selling things, and growing in notoriety, you might even say popularity. Justin and Staci are getting into galleries, so are a lot of folks from school. I know many of the writers I had class with at Bennington are getting published. Ian and Heke are in Japan. And that's not even counting all of my friends who have found some place new to live, or someone to marry, or are starting to become actors, or directors, or kick-ass music producers. Other have found directors, or are starting shows. And I'm at home, with my biggest claim to fame being... this blog.

And not all of those things are things I want, but all of those things are success, which I've seen precious few of. I miss a lot of those things, those comforts, hell, even the discomforts, of which I'm sure there are [things are as never as rosy for our loved ones as we believe they are]. And there are things, selfish things, that I have begun to want as time goes on, that aren't afforded to me because of the way I've decided to live and conduct my life. Some of them people would probably thing of as stupid, material things, like comics [re: indie books, and graphic novels] or clothing, and a digital camera, for this space, because I think some pictures might liven things up a little. And some of the things I want are way more important, especially to my sanity, like friends I actually see, relationships that don't exist solely on the internet or in letters [not that I take any of those relationships for granted -- they, like the people I have them with, are brilliant], a social life, maybe a girlfriend or something like a girlfriend again. This is all stuff I feel like I've sacrificed, to do what I've done, to still be here. I was more okay with it a year ago. I'm less okay with it now.

More than any of that, and I know most people who know me won't believe this, but there's also a part of me that's felt this need lately to just... get involved, and maybe take on some public service. Like, if I need to get a job, if I need to do something with my life, that I should actually do something, something charitable, something helpful. Like teaching, or social work, or just... anything, where I can actual give back, where I could help someone, or at least try. To make my life feel like it was worth something. To make it feel like I've done something. And I'm looking into that, and trying to find something in that vein.

There are other things I want from life too. I'd like to go back to school, eventually, though not today, both because I don't think I have the money, and because I worry I'm not ready yet, that I don't have the focus, that the slacker sensibility that just let me... slide by mostly on being clever in high school and a lot of college isn't out of my system enough to really get from that what I'd want. And if I did go, I can't help but think I'd want to wind up someplace prestigious, which might be a bit of pipe dream, but... after Bennington, I just can't think about taking a step backwards, academically. And I'd like to travel, and I'd like to not do that traveling alone, if at all possible, and I'd like so many other things which just don't seem possible now. And some therapy. I'm starting to think a little of that would be good for me.

Staying here though, I know none of that will happen. Money, and insurance, and such.

I don't know what any of this means for me, either. I doubt this entry is some first step, and it's certainly not a grand gesture to show everyone I'm sorting my life out. This year has been awful, and I've fucked up getting a new job and moving away so many times even before things turned into one giant shit storm. So I don't know. I just feel like some things need to be done differently.

Which brings me to another point, one that's probably been apparent from my posts lately; I haven't really written anything of note in the past month. It's not writer's block, not really, because the ideas have been there, but the motivation hasn't. I've been down. I haven't seen the point. And I'm worried again, like I was after Dad died, that if I can't write when I'm at my worst, do I really have any business writing at all? If this is what I want to do, if "a writer" is really what I am, shouldn't I be able to just man up, and work anyway? Or is that unrealistic? [Feels like I'm wrong just for wanting to give myself that sort of pass...]

I don't know what any of this means for the blog. I'm not stopping now, at any rate, though I do feel like all these things threaten this part of my life somehow. I'm still working that out in my head, though.

But this space is clearly still useful to me. And that's something to consider.

I don't know. All of these possibilities sound fine laid out like this, but actually making any of it happen seems so foreign and unlikely, and makes me feel bad that these things which come so naturally to my peers are such a struggle for me. I don't know what's next, and even the baby steps towards them take up a lot of time and energy that usually goes towards the creative side of things. And that does affect the Mojo Wire.

Anyway. Brain dump. Here's to starting over.

1 comments :: "No one can help you but yourself -- in other words, you're fucked."

  1. First, I don't think you should kick yourself for not being able to write under all conditions. Everyone has trouble doing work sometimes, especially creative people who can be hit with mental blocks and all sorts of things. I go through daily or sometimes even hourly phases where I feel like I'm unable to create anything worthwhile.

    Second, I think creative people are hard on themselves when things don't work out like the picture of success they have in their head. I've told you before, this idea of how people define success is very interesting to me. Sometimes the solution to your problem is the most logical and the least romantic, as much as we want it to be otherwise. Get a grunt job, save up for a car, etc. Everyone has to do that, with very little exceptions. For several years I worked as a file clerk during the summers, then during school I worked for two years for the science dept tracing pictures of molecules and building web pages that I didn't even slightly understand, then for a year I worked in a traditional office setting designing the interior of furniture stores. As sure as you know me you know I didn't want to do any of those things, but you do what you have to to stay afloat. Then when I got laid off I was determined to turn my misfortune into a positive, so I took all my newly acquired free time and got my drivers license, without which my relationship with Hillary would not be possible, not to mention other job opportunities.

    And lastly, take every opportunity that comes at you, and make your own opportunities while still being smart, guarded, and using common sense. Years ago I sent an email to Destructoid.com telling them to check out my website to see if they wanted to feature my art on their page. They did, and then they asked me to design a shirt for them. They used Splitreason to print the shirts, and the guys there then asked me if I would like to send them designs on a regular basis. So if I hadn't sent that email I wouldn't have the job I have now, and I also wouldn't have the time to be in a relationship that requires so much travel. Sending that email literally changed my life in a couple major ways. So don't pass things up, send your work out, and take chances, even if they seem like they won't go anywhere. You never know what might happen.