Monthly Archives: September 2013

6 posts

Failure and Creatives (me)

I follow awesome people on twitter – and Erika brought up something that I had thought about at PAX (and then forgot because I was confused by my sudden lack of 4 molars), the subsequent short conversation with Kiri (who, btw, is awesome incarnate – not just because we pronounce our names the same way) then spurred me onto a twitter muse which I realized would be better suited for a blog post, because all the thoughts are way more than 140.
I feel like a failure – and if twitter is any indication I’m certainly not alone in that feeling. If you’ve read here before, you’ll probably have seen that strewn across the blog relatively frequently, if in vague terms.
That’s been escalated lately, exponentially. At some point, you become comfortable with your relationship with failure, and hiding in the dark, and doing stuff with little response – even though you desperately want response, all creators do (as hard as that is to admit because it feels…vain?).
Kiri wrote a post the day before I started my kickstarter about the same feeling. Between that and this post by Katie Lane…I’ve expressed the general terrifying-ness and failing feels of everything, but I’ve been so afraid to say what for fear of…I don’t really know.
I think I’m afraid that if I get into detail here of how I feel and why, everyone who’s been there for me and backed me is going to think I’m a horrible person. Which probably is playing a huge part in the creative block I’ve been facing.
I made it into the first round of the G&S Vlogs, my Kickstarter following that was successful, before PAX even! So the paralyzing fear and anxiety should be gone, right? Because everything worked?
Ah, but you don’t live inside my head. I waffle between YAY PEOPLE THINK I’M COOL and OH MY GOD I NEED TO NOT FUCK THIS UP. WHAT IF I’M AWFUL AND THEY HATE ME?
Strangely, the “just don’t fuck this up” part is wayyyy louder than the, “hey people like what I do!” voice.
Because I was successful I’m met with more stress than living in the shadows and making things maybe 30 people saw – most of whom I know, on a good day. It’s gone up a bit since The Daily Beast and Geek and Sundry and Kickstarter and it’s wonderful.
But damned if I’m not fucking terrified. I was funded, partially because Harry Knowles pissed people off, which I mean, I’m not complaining about – but the internet can be scary. I don’t want to piss people off, and I’m afraid that if I don’t deliver something perfect, it’s going to end poorly.
Which I know in my thinking brain isn’t true, because I have a years worth of content people could go back and look at, people knew what they were getting into when they funded me and they liked it, it doesn’t have to be The Best Show Ever(tm) is just needs to be KieryGeek, which I’m actually good at – when I’m not hiding in a corner being afraid.
I’m afraid that I’m not getting things done fast enough, or that I don’t know what I’m doing (I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing anymore, even though I’m doing the same thing, but being actually able to show it this time), or that it’ll still fall short (I’m reminded of Ira Glass on Storytelling) of what I want it to be.
I’m worried I won’t get the rewards to everyone on time, or they won’t like them, or I’m not making KieryGeek episodes fast enough (even though I’m still waiting on my mic to arrive), and I should be making ALL OF THE THINGS right this second, and I’m failing because I’m not. Instead I’m writing this, or playing animal crossing or painting my Archangel (which is actually related, because warmahordes). I’m worried I won’t be able to keep the Humorotica schedule that we’ve only tentatively set, or that if I draw all of the times my drawing will not get better and it’ll just be lamer and lamer (which, I KNOW is bullshit, you can’t get worse at doing something all the time..right?).
I’m afraid that my comics are lame (drawing, not words, because I have a great writer), or that I won’t be able to balance comics and KieryGeek and jobs – even though I’ve been doing that, dare I say successfully, for months.
I’m not sure how everything is going to work from here on out. I know what I want, but I’m also terrified of achieving it. I want to be able to support myself making comics and filming vlogs about games and making webseries and painting and making other digital art. I want to not have to rely on my partner for everything all of the time. It’s really awesome that he doesn’t mind, but, I’d like to be able to contribute too, you know? With more than $9 an hour seasonally.
I’ve not done things because I was afraid or too drained to, and I regret those a lot. I wanted to make friends with all the G&S Vloggers during the competition but didn’t – mostly because I was coming off of hellcation and the PTSD that brought (which, fed into self loathing, oh yeah, that’s tied in too – this is a nasty beast). I’ve regretted it since and haven’t really known how to deal with it. I didn’t meet any of the strip search artists at PAX even though they’re some of my favorite people because, SOCIAL ANXIETY. I feel like I talked a little about the meltdown I was dealing with over that weekend, it’s basically all of this stuff and existential crisis and creative self-doubt.
But, I DID muster up the courage to buy a shirt from MC Frontalot because I was too scared at PAX East…so…that’s a plus? If you don’t listen to the internal montage of “dude, you sounded so stupid” that played for a couple days later.
I realized there, that everyone deals with this – all creatives do – probably all humans, actually. I don’t remember which story Scott Kurtz was telling that made that point, but it was perfect. I think it was about how you put so much of yourself out there that you get exhausted, which…so true. Sometimes everything in my head is exhausting, and everything external is exhausting and everything is just exhausting.
But I can’t not do it.
And that’s what keeps me going – through the blocks and the fear and the anxiety.
I know what happens when I don’t create (I go nuts and YAY MORE MELTDOWN KIERY).
I have to (and I love it).
I realize that ultimately, the problem is coming from myself and my own hangups and my own fears and I am quite literally my own worst enemy. I am the one with the unreasonable expectations and overactive internal critic.
I just don’t know how to fix it – I’ll let you know when I do.
(If you’ve discovered the elixir, tell me? please? begs)

Strangely Quiet

I feel like I’ve been spending the last two weeks trying to catch up from when my teef were taken out of my face. I feel like I missed an entire week of stuff – probably because I did.
Honestly, it’s been a little stressful – I’ve been overwhelmed trying to get things going, or done, or out of the middle – and I’ve been exhausting myself while doing it, which creates more stress, so I’ve lived in a stress bubble for the last couple weeks. Not as fun as it sounds.
On top of that, the vicodin negated the effect of my antidepressants, so that’s been exciting to deal with. I’ve been paralyzed in a cycle of anxiety, depression, and self-loathing because of those reasons + hormones, so yeah, that’s why it’s been so quiet. I can’t relax and everything in my brain is all scattered and overwhelmed and I generally feel like I’m made of fail.
Writing this out, I realize I just need to let go.
But I needed to see it in front of my face first.
Sims 3, tea, and candles for the rest of the day it is, while I ride this out.

Bravery, Voices, and (lack of) Childhood

I’m able to actually sort of think straight for more than 10 minutes. Everything is still in a fuzzy poofy-face and vicodin haze (seriously, can’t wait until I don’t need to take painkillers, and can have pizza..). I have some thoughts that carried over from PAX that got lost earlier this week because it was all I could do to hold ice to my face and somehow swallow pudding. Some of them I was reminded of today, over twitter, and my weekly existential crisis. Some things of myself make a little more sense today, but that could just be the haziness too.
I made a comic last week, because I was frustrated about the whole “check your privilege” thing, and I’m not going to get into it here, because you can just go see it. I don’t like being silenced – and I’ve realized over the last couple years, as I learn about who I am and what I like (not who I’ve been told I am and what I’ve been told to like) that it’s really hard to find my voice and hold onto it, after it’s been taken from and used for me for so long.
It’s so easy to lose myself, because I was never allowed autonomy; I’ve always had to fight for it. I feel a lot of pressure sometimes, to say this or not say that, or to write with certain people in mind – and every time I do that I am losing my voice, and crippling my process. When that happens I don’t follow the “rules”, I just stop creating, I stop writing, because suddenly my voice – my autonomy – feels threatened. Which quickly leads to frustration because writing and creating is just as important as breathing or drinking water to me. I can only go so long without it before I start to lose it.
Aside: this week’s been rough largely because I haven’t been able to draw. holding an icepack is really frustrating when you *have* to because pain, but all you really want to do is draw comics.
So, I get angry when I feel censored and then I shut up and it’s a bad thing.

Erika Moen wrote a post today, which I guess really sums up a lot of how I’ve been feeling lately – about being vulnerable and using her voice. Which triggered this and unleashed a slew of other thoughts that don’t necessarily have the coherency to see through to the end.
It’s hard, and it’s scary to say things, and to say things on the internet. It’s hard to live on the internet so much sometimes. Some things happened in the last couple months that terrified me, and even terrified me to the point of being paralyzed creatively. I live publicly (because, living on the internet is largely public) and it’s scary to be honest and vulnerable and real, but I can’t not be.

I can talk to more people with less social anxiety on the internet than I can in real life – and finding my community has been beautiful. Interestingly enough, I think my depression was masking my anxiety, and all of my social anxiety, because now that I’ve fixed that, I’ve noticed….a lot of anxiousness, especially when it comes to interacting with people. I think I used to not care more, because, depression, but now I care and it’s….I’m a lot more self conscious.

It’s strange, seeing people I know turning into adults. It’s weird because I see them, and I can’t relate. I don’t see me when I was 18….because when I was 18, I was basically 40. It’s strange when I see 18 year olds being…18. And I’m hit with a shockwave of reminders that I didn’t have the luxury of being a teenager or a child. From the time I was 12 I was a full-time care-taker, though my “training” for that began when I was 8. I was never allowed a carefree exploratory childhood, I had to be an adult the entire time.
I panic occasionally because I feel so behind in life. I’m not where I want to be and I feel like time is running out and I have to step back and remember that I’m only 22. I feel like so much of my adulthood has been lived already, and I’m learning what it’s like to relax, and enjoy, and not take responsibility for everything or everyone’s kids. I’m caught between feeling too old, and having no experience…
I have to learn to relax, and to explore and enjoy my 20’s. I’m just now experiencing what most people experience in their teens. I’m forever playing catch-up, but also fighting to figure out how to adult, but not be overly responsible for things that aren’t mine.
I felt like it was too late for me to take my SAT or apply to college or do things that normal 18/19 year olds do when I was 18. I thought I was too old – because my reality was so…completely fucked up. Hint: it’s never too late.
I think this is what happens when you’re stripped of your childhood and expected to be an adult from the time you can reach a stove. You’ve aged, and not aged, in weird places and wrong ways. It’s too much pressure.
Growing up being told to act like an adult, but also, that you’re inherently worthless….it kills a lot of things. A lot of passion and a lot of drive. All the responsibility but none of the power is devastating.
The further away from childhood I get, the more I wonder how I – and how anyone who’s gone through similar things – managed to survive it. It was all we knew, so we adapted. I promised myself, when I was young, that I would always remember how it felt – so I wouldn’t forget and inflict the same wounds on others. I intend to keep that promise.

Being a person is hard, finding and keeping and using my voice is hard and scary, growing up is weird, but I think it’s all worth it – at least, it is for me right now. This is a lot more rambly and meh-ish than I intended, but on the bright side, this is the longest bit of almost coherent thoughts I’ve been able to put together all week.
Oh, and I CHEWED today!
It's a KITTEH

FUNDED.

I actually knew I was funded the day I left for PAX, but it kept going between feeling real and not feeling real yet. I was worried that everyone would take back their pledges last minute and I’d just be one of the many un-funded projects for reasons – like, I don’t know, the creative police coming to my door and being like, hey, no, you don’t get to do this, you CLEARLY don’t know what you’re doing and aren’t really creative anyway. And then they’d take all the money I didn’t have yet and give it to someone else; or pocket it….
But that didn’t happen, and as the seconds ticked away the total amount I made was $1,415. Perfect because when I got home from PAX our apartment roof had leaked and soaked our mic, so now I can afford to replace it with a better mic, which means better audio for everyone!
Anyway, now that the kickstarter is officially over and I don’t have it hanging over my head, I feel like I can actually think about the next steps. I tried, and I got as much as I could done, but it was really hard because it still felt so unsure.
I acquired an HD game recorder at PAX (because I’m married to a sweet person who fronted me the cash). I got the elgato Game Capture HD, and I can’t wait to try it out, because it’s supposed to be really awesome and the owner/creator of it that I talked to at the booth was really great and helpful and open about it and what it did and didn’t do (and is going to do, etc). Score!
While I waited today, I compiled all of the PAX footage, and also added in the promised twerking attempt. See below:

PAX Thoughts

Creatives

I left for PAX drenched in a crazy amount of social anxiety. My kickstarter was funded as I was on my way to the airport which was phenomenal and completely unexpected. It all suddenly became very real (but simultaneously completely surreal). Sometimes I think the scariest thing is actually succeeding. Like in Neil Gaiman’s speech, just waiting for someone to come by and say “nope, game over, we’ve found you out” for having the audacity to create publicly and wanting to be able to like, eat and stuff while doing it.
I’m scared of failing, really really really scared of failing, and for the better part of the week, I was terrified of admitting it. But it’s driving me crazy and into a not-good anxiety spiral, so here:
I am terrified. I am really fucking terrified that I’m going to fuck this whole thing up, I’m terrified everyone who backed me will hate me because I suck, or I didn’t do things exactly how they wanted, or because life happened – as it does (for instance, I came home to water leaks in my living room and studio, and now I need to replace the broken equipment as well).
So then the Q&A’s with Mike and Jerry (Gabe & Tycho) happened. They touched on anxiety, and valuing their work, and just doing it anyway.
These songs happened on Saturday and I realized something really important:
What I’m feeling, and this (increasingly volatile) cycle is normal, and I’m not alone.

Introversion and Drive

I watched the panels and the musicians, and I realized I was just one of many socially awkward, introverted, and insecure creatives in the room – including the ones on stage. I realized that the more creative I am, and the more I put myself out there, the more introverted I become, because I feel like I’m living so externally already and it’s an incredibly vulnerable feeling.
The more of myself I put into what I do, I feel like, the less barrier there is, which is awesome – authenticity is something I value and I get really irritated if I feel like I’m not being honest (hence: this post) and it starts eating away at me. It’s also really really scary, because everything feels so much more personal.
But, as much as that is, as much as I feel the need to invert and crawl into myself, I can’t escape one this drive.
This drive to create, publicly, and live, publicly. Every time I go to a con or see a panel or performance, it’s one of those things where I know I belong up there, creating things that I love, and other people love and want to know about. Like, it’s different somehow, and it’s an inescapable drive and something that I’m kind of moving toward.
I think this is a plight of creative people – especially creative people who tend to become introverted or socially anxious. Creating and sharing that creation calls to us and drives us and we can’t escape it; so we do it, because it matters to us and we don’t really have a choice, it is us. I think that’s okay.
I think it’s okay to feel anxious when you’re putting your heart on the line because it’s scary.
But I also think that I need to fix my anxiety, because it becomes crippling.