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*)

2 comments

  1. This might take some explaining, but I submit that you can’t fail. The people who follow, kickstart, and subscribe to you are interested in seeing more of your thoughts and life. So long as that continues (in whatever form, through whatever meltdowns), and it sounds like you couldn’t stop creating even if you wanted to, your audience will appreciate it. I read once about the dynamic between creating for an interested audience, and having the audience dictate what you need to create. The author found that he had effectively gained 500,000 bosses, each with their own stressful demands. It’s like, the more views/responses you get, the higher that builds you, which means you then have that much farther to fall (don’t fuck it up). Instead, I try to think of whatever (minimal) response I get as propelling me forward rather than raising me up. That means the audience approves of the trajectory I’ve already set with where my work is going, and it serves as a boost to continue doing so, rather than instilling anxiety. I don’t know if any of this helps, or just makes things worse (I hope it helps somehow), but tell your inner critic to STFU because your inner creator has some creating to do.

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