Firstly, this post seems incredibly selfish to me. Things like this start off as my journal entries, but as I’m writing I realize that it sounds like I’m writing for a reader who is not necessarily me in the future. As a result, it may sound self-helpy. My whole journal is this way. And so I feel kind of weird making blog posts out of these because I think: who am I too think other people would care about what’s in my journal, in my mind. I guess if you don’t care you can stop reading, so I shouldn’t worry about wasting your time. I do not care if you stop reading, but please, if you do, go watch Broad City instead because that show is amazing.
But secondly, I was reading Amy Poehler’s book Yes Please! and even though it wasn’t amazing writing-wise, there were moments when things she was writing were things that I was thinking. I thought: this is amazing. It feels great when your fears/anxieties are echoed in something someone else does (e.g., the whole purpose of art), because suddenly you feel less weird about those insecurities and you can actually work to do something about them. So I guess I hope some other people read this and are like “TOTALLY DUDE LET’S ACHIEVE OUR DREAMS.” Older people may not find this interesting because they’ve maybe already realized this / figured it all out. But also I think everyone has dreams at all times, even if you are older. This schema is specifically geared towards my dreams, so again, if your dreams are not my dreams then maybe you’d get more value out of watching Broad City. If so, that’s totally cool.
This post was written in a Macdonald’s. There’s something about Macdonald’s French fries that make me want to lick the salt off my fingers and WRITE. Another post from the dregs of a cup of Coke.
THE ACTUAL POST:
A realization: I’m afraid. My fear of rejection, failure, and embarrassment keep me from turning dreams into goals into realities.
I need to be unafraid. I thought about it and everyday is the same day. Challenges may appear to be different on the surface, but at their core they all require the same thing from us – leaps. Some challenges seem easy, like crossing a stream where dry rocks are perfect stepping-stones for your small leaps. Other challenges seem like jumping from one Colorado River canyon wall to the other. But our subconscious is capable of making this jump if only our conscious mind would give up its inhibition.
Jump across the canyon wall. Easier said than done. Okay, then start with something easier. A slightly larger gap between stepping-stones. Train the frontal cortex not to turn off but to jump, to see every gap as the same gap. Every day is the same day.
So, for me, if my dreams are to be a creative, to live in an intellectual creative community where I feel like I gain inspiration and assistance from those around me while also contributing to the community, how do I turn this dream into goals, and later, goals into reality? The mental leaps will be necessary at every stage. The dream is abstract. Like a sleeping dream, a life dream is blurry. It lacks clear definition. It can shift frequently. It is recalled as an emotion more so than an event.
My dream is broad in scope. I attempt to narrow it – tease it out with a fine tooth comb, separating strands with which I’ll build my goals.
I say I want to be creative. I want to be supported in my creative endeavors. I realize I write so much. I think it’s easy for me to dismiss thinking, “I’m not special. I’m not unique. Others must do this too.” But the variety of things I’ve written or been thinking about writing lately – creative non-fiction, sketches, fiction short stories, screenplays, plays, webisodes, audio fiction, comic books – and the frequency with which I think of these stories or of characters I think up in my head or of characters I meet in real life and how I want to tell all these stories with all these characters to everyone outside my head. Sometimes that seems narcissistic – “well what makes you so special?” Truly nothing. Everyone is capable but only some desire to do so. I guess that’s what’s special? No one with my exact life wants to write my stories but me? And if all those people who desired to make art thought themselves selfish and then didn’t make what they wanted, we would have no art probably. And I love TV and films and novels, which brings me to:
I say I want to support a creative community and gain support from a creative community. I’m pretty indiscriminant when it comes to all forms of art. I love a vast array of music and TV and film to the point that some friends make fun of my tastes (*cough cough* Matt). I’ll ponder anything that had intention in it’s creation. I may not like it, but I’ll consider it because I love discussing it. Some of my best memories of college come from discussion like this over dinner, or coffee. These discussion and other interactions within a creative community only strengthen the art an individual creates. Good art is impossible in a vacuum. The creative individual and the community feed off each other so both are necessary.
Okay, so, the knot loosens. We’ve started broad, abstract. Now to narrow to specific, concrete. What are my goals?
Goal: the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. So goals can have varying proportions of abstraction and concretion. Goals can also have varying levels of attainability. The mind cannot first leap across the canyon. It has to first leap across the stream.
Okay, what are my streams? WRITE MORE. REVISE MORE. SHOW MY WORK TO MORE PEOPLE. SUBMIT MY WORK TO ONLINE PUBLICATIONS AND CONTESTS. READ MORE ONLINE PUBLICATIONS AND CONTESTS. BE MORE CONFIDENT.
Honestly this last one is probably the most important. If you’re down with my streams and rivers analogy, confidence would be the water – a component of every challenge everywhere all the time.
WRITE MORE is an obvious goal. WRITE MORE everything and anything: short stories, screenplays, comic book scenes, audio pieces, webisodes, blog posts, journal entries. Okay, but how can that become more concrete. I’m always weary of too hard goals, like “finish a webisode a week” or “a blog post biweekly” or “story outline every week.” Things like that can end up discouraging me from working when I blow past a deadline. I’ll make flexible concrete goals: write 30 minutes a day. Sit with the journal or computer for at least 30 minutes of writing time a day. Instead of assigning that time for a specific project, it can flow freely and easily be accomplished.
REVISE MORE. LOL. At present I pretty much don’t revise. I think this is partly because I’ve completed so few things that when I finish something I want to move on. Ira Glass has a quote. In order to get better you need to constantly ask yourself: “how can this be better?” It’s not just about doing the 30-minute jog everyday, doing that will make an amateur. It’s about trying to run further EVERYDAY. That’s how you get yourself semi-pro. Actively trim the fat until your muscles are marble perfection.
SHOW MY WORK TO MORE PEOPLE. The streams are getting wider and the leaps are getting longer. The thing preventing me from sharing my work with others is the irrational fear that people will not like this thing I’ve spent a lot of time on and/or care a lot about. There’s also the fear that if I get constructive criticism, I won’t know how to address and fix the problems in the criticism. But, again, getting over this fear would strengthen my revisions and revisions strengthen my writing and my writing abilities. When I finish a draft, I will show it to whoever is interested, get feedback, and consider it. I think this is a good way to normalize sharing my work. Becoming more comfortable having other see my work and becoming a stronger writer because I allow others to critique my work will help me: SUBMIT.
SUBMIT MY WORK TO ONLINE PUBLICATIONS AND CONTESTS. When I feel like a piece is “finished,” I’ll submit it somewhere. Because if I want this to be more than just hobby… people outside my circle of friends and family should probably read my stuff. I don’t necessarily want to get paid, but I just want these stories to be known/read. (To get work published online I must read online publications to see where my writing would fit with the landscape. And everyone knows the best writers are also the best readers.) So I will READ ONLINE PUBLICATIONS at least once a week. That’s like totally not a lot but it’s better than nothing.
BE MORE CONFIDENT (Honestly this could apply to every facet of my life.) If the goals previously mentioned create a web, BE MORE CONFIDENT would be the spider churning out the (spider web material). I need to be more confident when I’m writing: “it’s OK if this plot point seems dumb now, get through and reassess.” More confidence in revision: “At the critique they didn’t want me to kill of DJ Riff Raff, but I really want his face to be eaten by zombies.”* Confidence in showing people: “So what if they think this story is too dark. Or too dumb. Or too dark and too dumb at the same time.” Confidence in sending my work places: “There is no submission fee. WHAT’S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN? I know accomplishing all these goals (they’re really more of habits) will help me find and/or build a creative community in which I can feel like both a nourisher and a nourished. And confidence will help me at every stage.
So confidence allow me to push this rock of a dream up a steep hill with the full knowledge that this process must be repeated ad infinitum because the stories and ideas will never stop popping up in my head. But that’s OK. I once wrote in my journal “I want to push the rock up the hill and watch it roll down relishing in the knowledge that I will get to push it back up again.” I understand that now.
While writing this I realized I’ve actually started working towards these goals. I finished a collection of webisode scripts called #LOSERS** (which is sort of similar to Broad City but set in college and the main characters are way more neurotic and awkward). I’ve joined a science fiction writing workshop where I workshopped the beginning of the zombie apocalypse comic book I’m writing**. And I’ve bookmarked online publication websites and read several (although not one a week…). I’m moving confidently in the direction of my dreams, y’all! (I think that’s a quote. A paraphrase of Henry David Thoreau.)
*This is a legit plot point in a story I’m writing.
**You wanna read it? I’ll send it to you because I am trying to be more confident.