The hardships of being a struggling writer.
Gun Control for Polar Bears wasn't the big thought on my mind when sending it out, not really a big goal amidst all the projects I have; but when it came out it became a bigger deal than I expected. Not in the world of literature but to me personally. It got my name out, started my career, and gave me a validation I'd sought out for so long. It also started my working relationship with my publisher and since then we've come up with at least a few projects that are exciting and I can't wait to jump on. My heroes in art all started their careers with small artsy stuff before moving on to more noticeable things. These days, things seem to work in the opposite. Nowadays people tend to do something noticeable and then self fund/self publish their little artsy stuff. After just a month of the poetry book being out I realized that I'm following in the same footsteps as my heroes; the struggle of obscurity with no one giving me a chance and then I get my little oddity out. So Gun Control for Polar Bears isn't just a little indie publication of oddball poetry, it's given me a start, it's let me in. Regardless of its low sales it will always hold a place in my heart. This little thing I put out there and expected to hear nothing but "No" on actually started my path anew.
The struggles are aplenty when you choose an art for a life. I wrote for many years and really had no one to speak to about so much of it. For my friends and family it was just me talking as I was constantly speaking of ideas I'd carried but none of it seemed to have weight. I'm no stranger to rejection; I get rejected more now than I did in high school. Incidentally, I still get "friendzoned" with hearing "I love your writing. It's great. It's just not for us at this time." When you choose to do this for a living you're going to get rejected. Just the other day I got an email rejection for Gun Control for Polar Bears from one of the many companies I'd sent it to; the book's been out since February. In the beginning the rejections would really bother me. The ones that actually hurt are the ones from people who straight up refuse to read the work. I'd understand if it was read and not liked but to not read it is worse than a bad review; to me anyway. These days they don't bother me as much. On one hand I think about how I already know where I'm going so these pesky little set backs shouldn't ruffle my feathers so much. On the other hand I think about some of my favorite works of art, for example the film Blade Runner, which tanked upon its release yet now is considered a classic that other sci-fi films are compared to. Things like that let me think "Me or my work may not be appreciated right now but it can change things and make a difference." When you do what I do, you're going to struggle. It's part of it all.
I start every day off with getting a cup of coffee and creating new worlds. It's fantastic. It's difficult, yes. I'm not sitting poolside with gorgeous women bringing me cocktails (and my apologies if this statement sounds sexist in any way as it's not my intent.) I'm not rolling in dough. Financially I'd love to come up with that project that sets my family and I up for years to come but for now I am a struggling writer. I'll be honest, I'd rather struggle with my dreams than be content in what most consider a "normal life". The idea of being trapped in an art-less, monotonous 9-5 scares the hell out of me, so when I have troubles with a book, a screenplay, or a comic book, I just remember that I'm actually doing it. This is exactly what I wanted; trials, tribulations, and all — and I know that down the line the money's coming, I have faith in that. I've never had writer's block. My main problem is the same as everyone else's - time. There aren't enough hours in a day or days in a week to get it all out.
When you create for a living, there's a gap, an odd time lapse if you will. You plan, work, and create your project and people only know what you tell them. Then there's the wait for it to get picked up, then there's the editing, the artwork, and then awaiting release date. Then, eventually, the world gets to see what you worked so hard for. I have so many things going on right now, it's ridiculous. I have one book out that people know about and a dozen others on the way. One of the hardest things about it is your own personal expectations. It's not about money to me but readership. You finally get your labor of love out and you expect people to take notice, a notice you, of course, have a bias towards. It comes out and it's not received as expected. You have to just keep going. That's what I do. Because a project isn't well received or well known doesn't change its existence. It's real, regardless who knows about it or who believes in it.
One of the other hardships in being a "creator" is the fact that when you create your world (which, by the way, it doesn't matter the type of story you are writing, you ARE creating a new world) you see it all in your head. You're an architect. But you're the ONLY one that sees what you see and that can be troubling at times, especially when you're trying to show it around or get it known. You struggle in getting others to see your blueprints for what they really are. To some they're just made up stories and to others, who "get it", they'll see the full building (and city for that matter) as you've designed it. But, of course, the latter isn't always the case; thus, the continuing struggle.
It's funny, I've always been a big Woody Allen fan and these days I find myself exactly the struggling writer character that he's written so often. But, as said, I'd rather keep fighting and keep writing than be another brick in the wall. I have so much in me that I can't wait to get out. My brain's never barren and I have plenty to work on, always. I hope you guys stick around because there's so much for you to see. Some day all the stories I post on my blog (beavertownproductions.blogspot.com) will all go into a book but until then they'll be on there as a taste; a sampler platter.
It's interesting about what else Gun Control for Polar Bears did; it brought me into this new world for me. Beyond a poetry book here or there, I never planned on writing books. I always wanted to do screenplays, plays and comic books. I'm still doing those things but I'm also now in this 'book world' and whatnot. The poetry book came out and all of a sudden I had opportunities to do different kinds of books, which I've jumped on. Like many writers, I hope I can create something that will leave a mark and stand the test of time. Do I have that in me? I don't know. It's not really up to me. I suppose that's more up to you, the reader.
I've achieved the main part of my goal in becoming a writer, now I just need to become a successful one. It's interesting, I've heard writers talk about how they don't want to be a brand and they just want to create; but if you're doing this, essentially you're wanting to build your name as a brand in some way, if that makes any sense. It's still wild to me that I can say that "Yes, this is what I am and what I do". Regardless of that dream coming true, it doesn't really change things at home haha. I can be proud of myself and my accomplishments and the things that are in the pipe for the future but I still here "The trash needs to be taken out". It's a case of 'the more things change, the more they stay the same.' The struggle is real and it's hard but I love where it's leading me.
I have friends who are also writers, artists, creators of all types going through the exact things I am. I'm proud of them all and I'm happy to finally be joining them. So to wrap up I'll say rejections are coming (don't worry about them), it'll seem like nobody cares (as long as you do, everything's gravy), encourage your fellow artists (giving that feels just as good as receiving it), there's a lot of struggle and hard work (but it leads to somewhere greater), and stay positive (why waste your time being negative?).
There's more where that came from!