New first, then the goods.
I’m now on the tail end of edit and polish on the Lexicon Calopa collection, and I’m really pleased with how it’s shaking out. I’ll be rounding out the month with work on the glossary and timeline, and then next month will be all about illustrating the new maps, interior layout, and cover design. The book will be ready in time for December.
Win? Win. I’ll even have a little Facebook event page set up for the release. Digital party, activate. BYOB. I’ve got the confetti canons covered. But for now, let’s dig in to the succulent brain-meats of today’s tasty offering:
Discouragement, and Beyond
Discouragement. Every creative effort faces it, and everyone’s experienced it. We’ve all been at that apathetic Sisyphus moment where the urge to hit “fuck it” mode and let the boulder roll back down hill is overwhelming.
I’ve no advice on how to deal with that. I truly don’t.
Please accept this adorable forced-perspective pug as a token of my apologies.
Okay, cool, I can sense that some of you are leaving the auditorium—but hold up a sec. I do have a piece of wisdom for you about this, but I want to be honest with you lot first. See, I’m really, truly bad at dealing with discouragement in the moment. It’s something I’ve wrestled with over the years, and an aspect of the Lego set that is me that I’ve learned to accept.
Discouragement has killed a LOT of my projects. Webcomics, music albums, stories, videos, but I can say with all sincerity that those deaths came after mountains of effort on my part. In that, I gave it my all. I tried. The attempt was not simply stopped at the conceptual stage.
But how in the hell does my knowing or coming to terms with that help you, you might ask? Again. Mental projection here. I’m assuming you’re asking. I’m also visualizing you asking this question while sword-fighting against an ambulatory modern-chic coffee table in the middle of the Ikea version of Thunderdome.
My imagination entertains me.
. . . Usually.
Back to your question: how does this help you? How does this shore you up when you’re dealing with discouragement. Well, it doesn’t-
Okay, wait, back in your seats. Bear with me. The truth is, I can’t give you advice on how to deal with feeling discouraged. I’m clearly and empirically not the best person to try to give you clever platitudes that’ll turn things around in that state. BUT, I can tell you what to do after, because I’ve been there so many times at this stage in my life that it’s become an exercise regime of sorts.
You’re going to fail. That’s part of the process. It’s an unavoidable free ticket to the suck show. It’s how we learn and grow. So, when you’re discouraged, when you see something as a failure, I want you to ask yourself the very same question that I pose to myself once the initial suckitude has throttled back:
“Did I do the best I could with what I had at that time?”
Let’s say I’m feeling particularly harsh on myself when I ask that, and my answer to it is an unequivocal “No”. Cool. That begs the follow ups: What could I have done? What mistakes did I make? What else could I have plied to fix the issues?
See, even in that moment of taking myself to task, I’m learning. Eventually, once I get past the underlying self-recrimination, I’ve got new wisdom to apply to my next attempt to swing for the fences. Or, in the case of discouragement threatening to drive me off of something before I’ve given it a fair shake, it can prompt me to keep going at it until I can truly say that I’ve given it the Tao of Deadpool, and employed maximum effort.
Senpai noticed me!
But, as the years have gone by, more and more I find myself answering that question with “Yes”, even as I tally where I personally goofed. That gives me some peace. Failing sucks, and that won’t change, but more and more the sting of it tends to not hang around as long. I bounce back a lot quicker. I’m more apt to leap into the next project with more energy and hope.
It’s also allowed me the clarity to see where I had successes, even with the things that came to an unfortunate end. That simple question has allowed me to lose the rose-colored glasses, look back pragmatically, and not always play the shame and blame game with myself.
There are no winners in the shame and blame game. Believe me. Monopoly ends in less anger and broken friendships.
I can’t tell you how to deal with discouragement. Sorry. I can only clue you in to how to deal with what comes next. Ask yourself that question. Learn from it. USE IT.
Because, if we’re being honest with ourselves, the hardest part of being a creative individual isn’t failure, or deadlines, or even the self-doubt and moments of weakness where being discouraged can throw things off the rails. It’s the aftermath, and what we choose to take away from that, that’ll define whether or not we start building up something new and improved.
You’ve got this. Maximum effort.
Until next time, Horns Up.